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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, March 21, 2019

Federal defendants sentenced in operation targeting Sex, Money, Murder gang in Richmond County

Operation is credited with reducing gun violence in South Augusta

AUGUSTA, GA: Three men charged with federal crimes as part of the multi-agency investigation of the Sex, Money, Murder criminal street gang in Richmond County have been sentenced to prison terms.

Christopher Cohen, 25, was sentenced to 46 months in federal prison by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Dudley H. Bowen after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Cohen’s sentence will run consecutively to more than two years of a probationary sentence for which he was deemed in violation.

Previously, Johnny Franklin, 26, was sentenced to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty to Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon, while Rashad Smith, 22, was sentenced to 30 months in prison after pleading guilty to Receipt of a Firearm While Under Indictment. 

Federal charges against the three were announced in September 2018 along with state charges against the three and six other defendants for multiple felonies, including violation of the Georgia Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act. The investigation by the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI Safe Streets Task Force focused on Sex, Money, Murder (SMM), a subset of the Bloods criminal street gang. Much of the gang’s activities centered in an area south of Tobacco Road in Zone 7 of the Sheriff’s Office, and Sheriff Richard Roundtree reported a significant decrease in firearms-related crimes after the sweep of the gang members.

“The swift conclusion of these cases, from arrest to indictment to guilty plea and sentencing, is a testament to the diligent work of law enforcement and prosecutors in coordinating the details of the investigation,” said Bobby L. Christine, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. “Our intentional, focused strategy of combining our forces to combat these violent street gangs will continue to take these criminals out of our neighborhoods and make our communities safer.”

“The arrest and convictions of these gang members had a direct and immediate positive impact on the neighborhoods they prowled,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “The FBI’s Safe Streets Gang Task Force and its law enforcement members should be proud of those results and know that the citizens of those neighborhoods are safer today because of their hard work and determination.”

The cases in the operation were investigated by the FBI and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office, and prosecuted by the Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for the state of Georgia and by Assistant United States Attorney Tara Lyons for the United States. The operation is part of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Project Safe Neighborhoods program, which leverages law enforcement and community partnerships to combat violent crime.

Topic(s): 
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Contact: 
For any questions, please contact Barry Paschal at the United States Attorney’s Office at (912) 652-4422.
Press Release Number: 
19-19
Updated March 21, 2019