Ex-Federal Correction Officer Pleads Guilty to Taking Bribes in Exchange for Smuggling Contraband into the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn
A superseding indictment was filed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging John Pena, also known as “Tragedy,” “Don Tragg,” “Last Don” and “Money Baggz,” with murder in-aid-of-racketeering for the March 10, 2021 murder of Mark Bajandas on Staten Island. The superseding indictment also charges Pena with causing death through use of a firearm, being a felon in possession of ammunition, and conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana and crack cocaine. Pena was previously arrested in June 2021 on an indictment charging him with being a felon in possession of ammunition related to Bajandas’s murder and he was ordered detained in federal custody pending trial. Pena will be arraigned at a later date.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York and Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI) and Keechant L. Sewell, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges.
“As alleged, the defendant, a leader of a violent street gang, unleashed a barrage of gunfire on a public street, killing the victim and placing our community in grave danger,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “This Office, working closely with our federal and local law enforcement partners, is relentlessly pursuing gang members who terrorize our neighborhoods with senseless acts of gun violence, and we will not rest until this threat is neutralized.”
Mr. Peace expressed his appreciation to the Richmond County District Attorney’s Office for its assistance on the investigation.
“As alleged, Pena murdered a perceived rival, who sustained 18 gunshot wounds in the attack,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Driscoll. “His apparent lack of respect for the sanctity of human life will now be met with appropriate consequences imposed by the federal criminal justice system. Along with our NYPD partners, we will continue to be relentless in addressing the scourge of gang and gun violence that plagues our city.”
“The elimination of violent streets gangs is an absolute precondition to the sustainable prosperity and justice that New Yorkers deserve,” stated NYPD Commissioner Sewell. “Everyone has a right to live in peace and safety. But gang activity – particularly the carrying and indiscriminate shooting of illegal guns on our streets – injects fear into the daily lives of people in our communities. The NYPD, in close partnership with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, will continue to use every tool at our disposal to identify, arrest, and hold accountable these criminals.”
As alleged in the superseding indictment, the Gorilla Stone Mafia (or “GSM”) is a subgroup of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation, which is a faction of the nationwide Bloods street gang comprised primarily of individuals residing in and around the Stapleton neighborhood of Staten Island. Members of GSM use intimidation, threats of violence and acts of violence, including murder, robbery and assault, to preserve and protect GSM’s power, territory, and criminal ventures, and to expand the GSM’s criminal operations. They use drug trafficking, gun trafficking, robbery, fraud and trafficking in stolen identities as means of obtaining money.
According to court filings, Pena was the leader of the Gorilla Stone Mafia. In the early morning hours of March 10, 2021, Pena fired multiple gunshots from close range at Bajandas, a former GSM associate and perceived rival, killing him. Bajandas suffered at least 18 gunshot wounds to his upper torso and extremities. The murder occurred after Pena and Bajandas had attended a memorial earlier in the evening to commemorate the death of Avanti Brock, a former GSM member who was murdered approximately one year earlier.
If convicted, Pena faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
The charges in the superseding indictment are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. As part of the program, U.S. Attorney’s Offices work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and their local communities to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Saritha Komatireddy, Matthew R. Galeotti, Tara B. McGrath, and Garen Marshall are in charge of the prosecution.
Staten Island, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 21-CR-176 (S-1) (AMD)
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney’s Office