Leader of the Simple City Criminal Organization Pleads Guilty to a Racketeering Conspiracy and Aggravated Identity Theft
Stole Vehicles and Used the Stolen Identity Information of Victims to Engage in Fraudulent Financial Transactions
Greenbelt, Maryland – Jeff Crews, a/k/a “Fro,” age 25, of Washington, D.C., pleaded guilty today to conspiring to participate in a racketeering conspiracy and to aggravated identity theft, in connection with his activities as the leader of the Simple City Criminal Organization (SCCO), a racketeering enterprise engaged in fraud and related activity, including vehicle theft, interstate transportation of stolen property, and aggravated identity theft.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department; and Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department.
According to his plea agreement, the SCCO is a criminal organization based in the southeast quadrant of Washington, D.C. in a neighborhood known as “Simple City.” From at least 2009 to July 2015, Crews and his conspirators, including Sylvia Price and Stefon Janey, met on a regular basis, and planned criminal activity, including vehicle theft, the interstate transportation of stolen property, identity theft and credit/debit card fraud. The SCCO received money and income from those criminal activities.
According to his plea agreement, Crews and other SCCO members would steal vehicles in Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties, Maryland, as well as in Washington, D.C. Crews and SCCO members sometimes used the stolen vehicle in a short crime spree during which they committed a string of auto thefts; thefts from autos; and commercial burglaries targeting ATM machines. Once the SCCO had used a stolen vehicle to commit one or more crime sprees, the SCCO would then transport the stolen vehicle across state lines for resale.
Crews and other SCCO members would provide any personal identification information and access devices stolen during the crime spree to another group within the SCCO, which was led by Sylvia Price. Sylvia Price and those under her direction would conduct fraudulent transactions with the stolen identification documents and access devices, in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia. Price would provide a portion of the fraud proceeds to Crews, for disbursement to the SCCO members who participated in the thefts.
For example, on April 18, 2015, Crews, Janey, and another co-conspirator robbed a BP Gas Station in Beltsville, Maryland. While Crews acted as the getaway driver, Janey and another co-conspirator used a crowbar to forcibly enter the vestibule area, where an employee was working. Janey and the co-conspirator threatened the employee and stole the employee’s cell phone and cash from a cash register. In addition, Janey and the co-conspirator forcibly opened an ATM in the gas station, causing damage to the ATM, and took cash from the ATM. They fled the gas station in a gray Acura MDX that had previously been stolen in Prince George’s County, on March 31, 2015.
At least $550,000, but not more than $1,500,000, was reasonably foreseeable to Crews based on his involvement in the activities of the SCCO.
As part of his plea agreement, Crews will be required to forfeit and pay restitution of at least $1,250,000.
Crews and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Crews will be sentenced to between 96 and 120 months in prison for the RICO conspiracy, and a mandatory two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence for aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel has scheduled sentencing for January 31, 2017, at 9:30 a.m.
Seven other defendants have pleaded guilty to their participation in the racketeering conspiracy, including Sylvia Price, a/k/a “Deez Nuts,” age 50, of Suitland, Maryland, and Stefon Janey, a/k/a “Stef,” and “Stef Luva,” age 23, of Marlow Heights, Maryland. U.S. District Judge Hazel has scheduled sentencing for Sylvia Price on November 21, 2016, at 2:30 p.m. Judge Hazel previously sentenced Janey to 27 months in federal prison.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, Prince George’s County Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department and the members of the Washington Area Vehicle Enforcement Unit for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Thomas M. Sullivan, Nicolas A. Mitchell, and Sujit Raman, who are prosecuting the case.