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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of New Jersey

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Two Men Involved In Atlantic City Kidnapping And Murder Case Sentenced To Prison

CAMDEN, N.J. – Two Atlantic City, N.J., residents were sentenced to prison today for their roles in the kidnapping and death of a 20-year-old Atlantic City woman, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Aziz Sanders, 21, was sentenced to 30 years in prison and DeShawn Hicks, 22, was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Each previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez to separate, one-count informations charging them with use of a firearm, and aiding and abetting the use of a firearm, in furtherance of a crime of violence – specifically, the Hobbs Act robbery and kidnapping that resulted in the death of Nadirah Ruffin, whose body was found in Philadelphia in April 2011. Judge Rodriguez imposed the sentences today in Camden federal court.

Henry Ruffin (no relation to Nadirah Ruffin), 43, previously pleaded guilty before Judge Rodriguez to an information charging him with one count of misprision of a felony by concealing what he knew about several people allegedly involved in the home invasion and kidnapping of Nadirah Ruffin.

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

On March 23, 2011, D.H. met with Isiah Ruffin (no relation to the victim) in the courtyard area of a housing complex on North Maryland Avenue, a section of Atlantic City known as “Back Maryland,” to talk to Isiah Ruffin about a dispute between Isiah Ruffin and Victim One. After a brief conversation, D.H. viciously assaulted Isiah Ruffin, knocking Isiah Ruffin unconscious and robbing him of cash. When Isiah Ruffin regained consciousness, D.H. assaulted Isiah Ruffin again. As a result of the assault, Isiah Ruffin was treated at the Atlantic City Medical Center for a possible concussion and facial lacerations. After Isiah Ruffin was released from the hospital, Shamerria Smith, 27, and Sanders visited Isiah Ruffin, during which time Isiah Ruffin told Smith that D.H. had assaulted him.

To retaliate, Smith planned to enter Victim One’s house and assault and rob Victim One of illegal drugs and money. Sanders agreed to help Smith execute her plan and recruited Hicks to participate. Smith supplied the gun, duct-tape and handcuffs.

On March 26, 2011, Smith, Sanders and Hicks entered Victim One’s house and duct-taped Victim One and four other victims, including Nadirah Ruffin, who were present. While in the house, Sanders and Hicks took money from Victim One, some of which Victim One had earned from selling illegal drugs. They took money from another victim, as well as marijuana that the victim was planning to sell. Sanders and Hicks admitted to taking more than $500 dollars and 50 bags of marijuana from the house.

During the robbery, Nadirah Ruffin recognized Smith’s voice. Smith ordered Sanders to punch Nadirah Ruffin. After Sanders hit Nadirah Ruffin, Smith punched her because she did not think Sanders had hit her hard enough. As the defendants were leaving the residence, Smith told Sanders and Hicks to take Nadirah Ruffin from the residence. Smith, Sanders and Hicks then placed Nadirah Ruffin into a green van. They drove to the Clementon area and eventually to Philadelphia. Smith said that because she was a mother she could not kill Nadirah Ruffin. Smith placed the gun near Sanders and told him that they were not leaving until someone else killed Nadirah Ruffin. Sanders and Hicks took Nadirah Ruffin to the banks of the Schuylkill River, where Sanders shot her in the head, killing her. Her body was dumped in the river.

On June 17, 2014, Smith was sentenced to 35 years in prison for her role in the kidnapping and death of Nadirah Ruffin.

In addition to the prison terms, Judge Rodriguez sentenced Hicks and Sanders to five years each of supervised release and ordered them each to pay $1.5 million in restitution.

U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office and the Atlantic City Police Department, for the investigation leading to the sentencings.

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason M. Richardson and Matthew T. Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden, assisted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Feder of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Appeals Division in Newark, and Mark Coyne, Chief of the Appeals Division.


Defense counsel:

Sanders: Edward Borden Esq. and Carl J. Herman Esq., Cherry Hill, N.J.
Hicks: Michael Huff Esq. and David Glazer Esq.. Livingston, N.J.

Updated March 18, 2015