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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of New York

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Leader Of Brownsville, Brooklyn-Based Gang Sentenced To Life In Prison Following His Conviction Of Racketeering, Murder In Aid Of Racketeering, And Other Charges

Defendant Committed Murder, Sex Trafficking, Narcotics Trafficking and Witness Tampering

Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York, Paul Rivera, a leader of a Brownsville-based gang, was sentenced to life in prison, plus a consecutive sentence of 20 years, following his conviction after trial in June 2015 on charges of racketeering, murder, sex trafficking, narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and witness tampering.  These charges arose out of the defendant’s participation in and leadership of a gang known as “Together Forever” or the rap group “TF Mafia” (also referred to as “TF”) that for many years engaged in criminal activity in areas including the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, an area victimized by a high rate of gang and drug related violent crime.

The sentence was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and William F. Sweeney, Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI).

“With this sentence, I hope that victims of Rivera’s crimes will have some sense of closure,” stated United States Attorney Capers.  “The defendant’s involvement in violent gang activity, including drug trafficking, the prostitution of young women and girls, and a senseless murder, was a scourge on the community.  This case again demonstrates our Office’s unwavering commitment to investigate and prosecute those who perpetrate such crimes.”  Mr. Capers extended his thanks to the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, New York City Police Department, the Pennsylvania State Police, the New Jersey State Police, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution of this case.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney stated, “The sum of crimes the suspect committed in this investigation are proof of his complete disregard for obeying the laws governing everyone else.  His goal was money and power, and he used intimidation, threats and even murder to assert his dominance over others.  His victims and the communities he operated in can breathe a sigh of relief that he will spend the rest of his life in federal prison.”

As proven at trial, TF has operated in various neighborhoods of Brooklyn well as in other parts of New York and in Pennsylvania since the 1980s.  In connection with his leadership of TF, Rivera killed Robert Barber in the summer of 2011 because he and others in the gang perceived Barber, who was a member of a rival gang, as a threat to TF’s control of narcotics sales in Brownsville.  On the evening of August 22, 2011, Rivera observed Barber walking outside the tattoo shop run by Rivera, which was located at 361 Sutter Avenue in Brownsville.  Rivera took a firearm that had been supplied by another member of TF, stood in the entrance to the tattoo shop, and shot Barber once, killing him.  Rivera later was paid, in the form of money and heroin, for the murder by a fellow TF member.

The jury also found the defendant guilty of interstate prostitution and sex trafficking, including sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion, and sex trafficking of one or more minors, which activities were committed as part of TF’s illegal activities.  At trial, two victims testified about their involvement with TF, including one victim who became involved with TF when she was 14 years old, and another who testified that she began working as a prostitute for the defendants when she was 15 years old. 

The counts of conviction also included narcotics trafficking conspiracy, involving cocaine base, heroin, cocaine, and marijuana, and firearms offenses, including use of a firearm to cause the death of Robert Barber, as well as witness tampering and attempted obstruction of justice related to Rivera’s efforts to convince a witness to cease cooperating with the government.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Taryn Merkl, Alixandra Smith, and Michael Robotti.

The Defendants:
Age:  49
Brooklyn, NY

E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 13-149 (KAM)

Drug Trafficking
Human Trafficking
Violent Crime
Updated December 22, 2016