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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 29, 2018

Three Members Of “Central Divisadero Players” Gang Sentenced To 12 Years Or More In Prison For Racketeering

SAN FRANCISCO – Adrian Gordon (aka “Tit”), Esau Ferdinand (aka “Sauce”), and Monzell Harding, Jr., were each sentenced today for their respective roles in a racketeering conspiracy, announced Acting United States Attorney Alex Tse and FBI Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  Gordon was sentenced to 27 years in prison, Ferdinand was sentenced to 20 years, and Harding was sentenced to 12 years.  The sentences were handed down by the Honorable William Orrick, U.S. District Judge.  The defendants were tried for crimes committed on behalf of the San Francisco gang referred to as Central Divisadero Players, aka Central Divis Playas, aka CDP.

“Eradicating violent gang crime is one of the top priorities of the Justice Department,” said Acting US Attorney Tse.  “The substantial federal sentences ordered today against convicted gang members is a true warning that the criminal justice system will be used to the fullest extent to punish the menace of gang conduct.”  

“For years, the Central Divisadero Players terrorized San Francisco through acts of murder, assault, robbery, and pimping,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Bennett.  “The FBI and our partners used the full force of the federal justice system to bring an end to these racketeering activities and bring these five defendants to justice.  We especially want to thank the SFPD and the San Pablo Police Department for their hard work in investigating these crimes.”

After a 14-week trial ending on March 5, 2018, a federal jury convicted Gordon, 29, Ferdinand, 35, and Harding, 26, as well as co-defendants Charles Heard (aka “Cheese”), 33, and Jaquain Young (aka “Loc”), 44, of various charges in connection with a racketeering conspiracy.  The defendants were the first five to stand trial for crimes alleged in an eleven-defendant, 22-count second superseding indictment filed on August 14, 2014.  The indictment described CDP as a racketeering organization that worked collectively with other gangs in the Western Addition of San Francisco to preserve and protect power, territory, reputation, and profits of the enterprise through the use of intimidation, violence, assaults, and murder.  During the trial, the jury heard evidence that the five defendants, all from San Francisco, each played a role in the racketeering conspiracy whose crimes ranged from pimping to murder. 

Each defendant was found guilty of participating in the conspiracy.  In addition, Gordon was convicted of attempted murder for shooting at a victim during a nighttime ambush in San Pablo, Calif., on May 20, 2011.  Further, the evidence at trial showed the defendants’ involvement in a number of violent crimes, including Ferdinand’s and Young’s roles in the murder of Jelvon Helton at the Gravity bar in the Marina District of San Francisco on November 1, 2010, and Gordon’s and Harding’s involvement in a series of nine armed robberies throughout San Francisco between September 23, 2011, and October 5, 2011.  In sum, the five defendants were convicted of the following specific charges:

Defendant

Found Guilty of the Following Charges

All Five Defendants

Racketeering conspiracy

in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)

 

Racketeering, including murder,

in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)

 

Gordon

Attempted racketeering murder of Victim 3 on May 20, 2011, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(5)

 

Racketeering assault with a dangerous weapon May 20, 2011, on Victim 3, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(3)

 

Use, carry, brandishing, or discharge of a firearm during a crime of violence during the May 20, 2011, assault with a deadly weapon of Victim 3, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)

 

Heard

Racketeering murder of Andre Helton on August 14, 2008, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1)

 

Racketeering murder of Isiah Turner on August 14, 2008, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1)

Use of a firearm in aid of the August 14, 2008, racketeering murders of Andre Helton and Isiah Turner, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(j)(1)

Young

Racketeering murder of Jelvon Helton on November 1, 2010, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1)

 

Use, carry, brandishing, or discharge of a firearm in connection with November 1, 2010, murder in aid of racketeering of Jelvon Helton, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)

Use of a firearm in aid of the November 1, 2010, racketeering murder of Jelvon Helton, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(j)(1)

Attempting to entice and persuade an individual to travel for prostitution (from August 9, 2012, to March 11, 2013), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(a)

Attempting to entice and persuade a minor to engage in prostitution (from August 9, 2012, to March 11, 2013), in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2422(b)

 

 

In addition to the prison terms, Judge Orrick sentenced Gordon, Ferdinand, and Harding each to 5 years of supervised release to follow their prison terms.  

On June 8, 2018, Judge Orrick sentenced Heard to four life sentences for his role in the conspiracy, including the murders of Andre Helton and Isiah Turner in a double-homicide that took place by the University of San Francisco on August 14, 2008.  Judge Orrick also sentenced Young to four life sentences for his role in the conspiracy, including the murder of Jelvon Helton and the attempted pimping of a minor; to an additional ten-year sentence to run consecutively for a related firearms charge; and an additional 20 years in prison for attempting to persuade an individual to travel for prostitution.

The defendants currently are in custody and will begin serving their sentences immediately.   

The prosecution is the result of joint investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation; San Francisco Police Department, including the Gang Task Force, Homicide Detail, Robbery Detail, Special Victims Unit, Night Investigations Unit, and the Northern, Park, Bayview, Mission, Central, and Taraval Stations; San Francisco District Attorney’s Office; and the San Pablo Police Department.

Updated June 29, 2018