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Press Release

Life Sentence For 2010 Murder Of Dancer On “the Block” In Baltimore

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Maryland

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar sentenced Tyrone Johniken, a/k/a “Hassan Muhammed,” and “Roland,” age 30, of Baltimore, today to life in prison for a racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute drugs in connection with a drug gang operating on a stretch of Baltimore Street in Baltimore known as “the Block.” Johniken was convicted on November 21, 2012, after a three week trial.

Yesterday, Judge Bredar sentenced co-defendant Donte Bernard Baker, a/k/a “Tay,” and “Donnie,” age 23, also of Baltimore, to 40 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Baker previously pleaded guilty to the racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

The sentences were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Steven L. Gerido of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives - Baltimore Field Division; Special Agent in Charge Karl C. Colder of the Drug Enforcement Administration - Washington Field Division; and Commissioner Anthony W. Batts of the Baltimore Police Department.

“This case demonstrates how illegal drugs can lead to violence and despair,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Evidence introduced at the trial showed that Cherrie Gammon helped the conspirators distribute drugs on the Block, and Tyrone Johniken and Donte Baker arranged to murder her because they were worried about her cooperating with the police.”

According to evidence presented at Johniken’s trial and court documents, from at least January 2008 to the present, Donte Baker and his mother, co-defendant Monica McCants, were leaders of the gang who supplied heroin and crack cocaine in “packs” of 10, 20 or 60 pills/vials to lower tier members, including defendants Johniken and Gary Cromartie. Johniken and Cromartie then sold the drugs to runners and drug users on the Block. The profits from these sales were given to McCants and Baker, who paid the lower tier members for making the sales. Johniken also assaulted a police officer on July 2, 2009. In November 2010, Baker collected money from drug sales in an effort to bail McCants out of jail.

The gang members protected themselves and the drug organization through violence and intimidation, including the murder of Cherrie Gammon on December 12, 2010. More specifically, on November 25, 2010, McCants instructed Baker to assault Gammon to ensure that Gammon provided the gang with drug proceeds. On December 12, 2010, Gammon was driven to the area of Leon Day Park in Baltimore where she was murdered by Johniken, Baker and Cromartie. In a phone call on December 30, 2010, McCants stated to Baker that law enforcement probably learned from Gammon that Gammon owed money to Baker for drugs.

Gary Thenor Cromartie, a/k/a “Miami,” age 24; and Monica McCants, a/k/a “Money,” age 42, both of Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty to their participation in the racketeering conspiracy. Cromartie also pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit murder in aid of racketeering. Cromartie and McCants are scheduled to be sentenced on May 23 and May 24, respectively. They each face a maximum sentence of life in prison for the racketeering conspiracy and for conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute drugs.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the ATF, DEA and Baltimore Police Department for their work in this investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Joshua Kaul and Robert R. Harding, who prosecuted the case.

Updated January 26, 2015