Two Defendants Sentenced to 202 Years' and 40 Years' Imprisonment, Respectively, for their Participation in the Murder and Extortion of Queens Business Owner
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Ppassim Elder, also known as “Bsam,” “Big Sam” and “Sam,” and Wilbert Bryant, also known as “Will” and “La,” were sentenced by United States District Judge William F. Kuntz II, to terms of imprisonment of 202 years and 40 years, respectively. The defendants were sentenced for extortion and fraud offenses following their conviction after a three-week trial in September and October 2021. At trial, the evidence showed that Elder and Bryant participated in an extortion scheme during which one victim was pistol-whipped and another victim was fatally shot in the face.
Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the sentence.
“The defendants are guilty of multiple crimes of violence and fraud that victimized many persons, including the patriarch of a Queens family who was gunned down in his place of business,” stated United States Attorney Peace. “The defendants will deservedly serve lengthy prison sentences for their ruthless and vicious conduct.”
Mr. Peace also expressed his thanks to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, the New York City Police Department, and the Queens County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance during the investigation and prosecution.
As proven at trial, on the morning of October 23, 2017, Bryant and two co-conspirators entered Garden Valley Distributors, a family-owned wholesale distribution center in Ozone Park, Queens. The perpetrators said that “Big Sam” sent them to collect his money. Earlier that year, Elder, who was known as “Big Sam,” had loaned Hani Kasem’s son money, which the son used to support the business. When Elder demanded full repayment, the son was unable to repay the debt because the money had been used to purchase merchandise for the business. Elder then began a campaign of intimidation against the son and his family. On one occasion, Elder paid co-conspirators to throw a rock through a window of the victim’s home. On another occasion, Elder barged into Kasem’s home, intimidating members of his family. Finally, Elder dispatched Bryant and two co-conspirators to the Garden Valley Distributors business where the perpetrators brandished a firearm, pistol-whipped the son and shot Kasem in the face, mortally wounding him.
In addition to the murder, Elder extorted another person whose brother had stolen the proceeds of a fraud scheme perpetrated by Elder. Although the victim was not involved in the theft, Elder punched him in his face in front of his daughters, breaking and bloodying his nose in order to “send a message” to the victim’s brother. Elder and Bryant were also convicted of bank fraud conspiracy for lying to banks about the true owner of certain bank accounts, which permitted Elder to defraud innocent victims across the country, including an elderly man who lost over $30,000 when he was tricked into believing he was purchasing a car and another individual who lost over $150,000 when he was defrauded into believing he was purchasing two real estate properties. Elder was also convicted of crimes committed after his arrest in this case, including stealing his attorney’s identity and lying to federal officials.
This case was brought as 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. Attorneys’ 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 Genny Ngai and Anna L. Karamigios are in charge of the prosecution.
PPASSIM ELDER (also known as “Bsam,” “Sam,” and “Big Sam”)
Staten Island, New York
WILBERT BRYANT (also known as “Will” and “La”)
Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-92 (S-5) (WFK)
Danielle Blustein Hass
United States Attorney’s Office
Updated February 8, 2023
Project Safe Neighborhoods