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Press Release

Member Of The New Jersey Grape Street Crips Gets 112 Months In Prison For Crack-Cocaine Distribution

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

NEWARK, N.J. – A gang member who sold crack-cocaine for the New Jersey set of the Grape Street Crips was sentenced today to 112 months in prison, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

Ernest Valentine, a/k/a “Bop,” 32, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares to an information charging him with conspiracy to distribute 28 grams or more of crack-cocaine. Judge Linares imposed the sentence today in Newark federal court.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

The New Jersey Grape Street Crips controlled drug trafficking and other criminal activities in various areas of Newark, including the neighborhood of 6th Avenue and North 5th Street. Valentine obtained crack-cocaine from more senior gang members and associates who used and shared a dedicated cell phone to accept orders for thousands of clips of crack-cocaine. These gang-members included Hakeem Vanderhall, a/k/a “Keem,” a/k/a “Sugar Bear,” Eric Concepcion, a/k/a “Eddie Arroyo,” a/k/a “E-Wax,” a/k/a “Wax,” and Rashan Washington, a/k/a “Shoota.”

To protect their gang and drug territory, the New Jersey Grape Street Crips operating in the 6th Avenue and North 5th Street location used “community guns” that were easily accessible to gang members. During the course of the investigation, law enforcement agents seized numerous firearms, including a .410 caliber assault rifle, a.45 caliber Thompson semi-automatic carbine, a 7.62 caliber assault rifle, and numerous semi-automatic handguns.

In addition to the prison term, Judge Linares sentenced Valentine to five years of supervised release.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing. He also thanked prosecutors and detectives of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Carolyn A. Murray, police officers and detectives of the Department of Public Safety and Newark Police Division, under the direction of Director Anthony A. Ambrose, and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Armando B. Fontoura, for their work on the investigation.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Osmar J. Benvenuto and Barry A. Kamar of the OCDETF/Narcotics Unit of the Criminal Division in Newark.

This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.

Defense counsel: Stacy A. Biancamano Esq., Chatham, New Jersey

Updated May 24, 2017