United States Attorney Richard P. Donoghue Announces Project Safe Neighborhoods Achievements on the One-Year Anniversary of the Revitalization of the Program
One year ago, the Department of Justice announced the revitalization and enhancement of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made the centerpiece of the Department’s nationwide violent crime reduction strategy. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in communities and to develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally-based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
“Project Safe Neighborhoods is a proven program with demonstrated results,” Attorney General Sessions said in marking the anniversary. “We know that the most effective strategy to reduce violent crime is based on sound policing policies that have proven effective over many years, which includes being targeted and responsive to community needs. I have empowered our United States Attorneys to focus enforcement efforts against the most violent criminals in their districts, and directed that they work together with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and community partners to develop tailored solutions to the unique violent crime problems they face. Each United States Attorney has prioritized the PSN program, and I am confident that it will continue to reduce crime, save lives and restore safety to our communities.”
“Over the past year, the Eastern District of New York has arrested and prosecuted dozens of gang members, gun traffickers and other violent offenders who have committed hundreds of serious crimes in our District. The charged crimes include racketeering, murders, aggravated assaults, armed robberies, drug trafficking, firearms trafficking, and the possession of firearms by convicted felons and illegal aliens. These prosecutions are a testament to the Project Safe Neighborhoods targeted enforcement strategies, which we have pursued with our federal and local law enforcement partners,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “We and our partners remain completely committed to identifying those who are most responsible for violence in our District and prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law, while continuing to support vital outreach programs for young people at risk.”
The PSN efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York over the last year include:
Over the last year, this Office has continued its decade-long enforcement efforts against the MS-13 street gang. For example, in 2018, more than two dozen Long Island MS-13 gang members were charged in a single superseding indictment with racketeering offenses, including 16 murders and numerous attempted murders. Additional racketeering charges were brought against other Long Island MS-13 defendants in additional indictments throughout the year. Numerous defendants, including juvenile defendants, have already pleaded guilty to serious charges, including several murders. The investigations that led to those indictments were conducted with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Long Island Gang Task Force, which includes the FBI, the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department (NCSD), the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) and other partners.
Also, in August of 2018, four MS-13 gang members were charged with murder conspiracy and attempted murder in Queens. Those MS-13 defendants are charged with aiding and abetting co-conspirators who shot and paralyzed a 16-year-old suspected rival gang member. The investigation was conducted with the FBI’s Safe Streets Gang Task Forces in Queens and on Long Island, which includes the FBI, the New York City Police Department (NYPD) and other partners.
Coney Island Gang Enforcement
The Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section has increased its enforcement efforts in the Coney Island area. The number of shooting victims in the NYPD’s 60th Precinct is down 70 percent year-to-date, and the number of shooting incidents is down 66 percent year-to-date, according to the NYPD.
In June 2018, a Brooklyn gang member was convicted of racketeering and two murders. The defendant, a member of the Coney Island-based Rival Impact gang, gunned down the victims in a gang war with the Thirty-O gang. The investigation was conducted with the FBI and the NYPD.
In November 2017, five members of a Coney Island street gang were indicted for murder, racketeering conspiracy and unlawful use of firearms. Three of the defendants are charged with a fatal shooting outside the Mermaid Houses in Brooklyn. The investigation was conducted with the FBI, the New York City Department of Investigation and the NYPD.
Other Street Gang Enforcement
In April 2018, four 18th Street gang members and associates were indicted for murder conspiracy and the murder of an MS-13 gang rival in Queens. The investigation was conducted with the Queens County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI’s New York Metro Safe Streets Task Force, including the NYPD.
Also in April 2018, a Long Island Bloods gang member was indicted for murder and racketeering. The defendant is charged with fatally shooting a victim at the Illusions Gentlemen’s Club in Deer Park. The investigation was conducted with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI’s Long Island Gang Task Force, which includes the FBI, the Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD), the Nassau County Police Department (NCPD), the Nassau County Sheriff’s Department (NCSD), the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department (SCSD) and other partners.
In March 2018, three members and associates of the 18th Street gang were indicted for the murder of a fellow gang member they suspected of being an informant. The defendants video recorded the murder and mutilation of the victim before burying the corpse in Turkey Point State Forest in Saugerties, New York. A fourth defendant is charged with helping a co-defendant evade capture by law enforcement authorities after the murder. The investigation was conducted with the Ulster County District Attorney’s Office and the FBI.
Since October of 2017, the Office has prosecuted over more than two dozen felon in possession of a weapon cases and more than 30 Hobbs Act robbery cases.
Firearms Trafficking Enforcement
In September 2018, two defendants were arrested for trafficking firearms from Virginia to Queens and Long Island. The defendants are charged with selling an assault rifle, high-caliber handguns and several other firearms. The investigation was conducted with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the FBI and the NCPD.
In June 2018, three defendants were arrested for trafficking firearms from Virginia to New York. The defendants allegedly used Facebook to market and sell firearms illegally obtained by straw purchasers. The investigation was conducted with the ATF and the NYPD.
Additional Federal Prosecutors Assigned
In June 2018, Attorney General Sessions announced 311 new Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) positions throughout the country. This was the largest increase in AUSAs in decades and, as part of that increase, the Attorney General allocated nine new prosecutors to the EDNY to focus on violent crime, civil enforcement and immigration crimes.
In addition, in January 2018, Attorney General Sessions selected the EDNY to receive two new AUSA positions to combat violent crime on Long Island. The two additional federal prosecutors enhanced the Office’s ability to prosecute violent crimes committed by members and associates of MS-13 and other violent gangs such as the Crips, Bloods, Latin Kings, 18th Street gang and Outlaw motorcycle gangs, all of which have a significant presence in the district.
Community Partnerships and Grants
PSN funding has also been made available to provide direct support to local law enforcement agencies as well as prevention, education and awareness programs for at-risk young people and parents. Presentations regarding gang awareness, internet safety and monitoring your child’s electronic devices all provide students and parents with necessary tools to more effectively avoid the dangers of violent crime.
In September 2018, a federal award of $1,036,044 was granted to Suffolk County to oversee and implement various violent crime reduction strategies in Suffolk County, Nassau County and throughout the district. Resources will be dedicated to enforcement and prevention efforts including, but not limited to, funding for prosecutors and police, providing technical training, promoting community outreach efforts and supporting existing gun and gang violence reduction programs.
In addition, in October 2017, the Justice Department awarded a $500,000 grant to the Suffolk County Police Department for a violent gang and gun crime reduction program. The grant supported enforcement strategies targeting individuals responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent crime and expanded community outreach programs for at-risk youth.
Charges in complaints and indictments are allegations, and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.