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Press Release

Woman Involved In Kidnapping And Death Of Atlantic City Woman Sentenced To 35 Years In Prison

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

CAMDEN, N.J. – An Atlantic City, N.J., woman was sentenced today to 35 years in prison for her role in the kidnapping and death of a 20-year-old Atlantic City woman, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.

Shamerria Smith, 27, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez to an information charging her with one count of 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. Judge Rodriguez imposed the sentence today in Camden federal court.

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

On March 23, 2011, a person identified as “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 him 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, Smith and Aziz Sanders, 21, of Atlantic City, 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 a third co-defendant, DeShawn Hicks, 22, of Atlantic City, 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 three 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 in a green van. They drove first 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.

In addition to the prison terms, Judge Rodriguez sentenced Smith five years of supervised release and ordered her to pay restitution of $1,512,840.  Hicks and Sanders have also pleaded guilty and both are scheduled to be sentenced July 9, 2014.

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, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor James P. McClain; and the Atlantic City Police Department, under the direction of Chief Henry White, for the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.

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:

Smith: Christopher O’Malley Esq., Assistant Federal Public Defender, Camden
Sanders: Edward Borden Esq., Cherry Hill, N.J., and Carl J. Herman Esq., West Orange, N.J.
Hicks: Michael Huff Esq., Camden, and David Glazer Esq.

Updated March 18, 2015