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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 1, 2020

18 Members Of The “Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation” Gang Charged With Racketeering, Murder, Narcotics, Firearms, And Fraud Offenses

Brandon Soto, a/k/a “Stacks,” Is Charged in Connection With the Murder of a Minor in Poughkeepsie, New York, On September 21, 2020

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, William V. Grady, Dutchess County District Attorney, William F. Sweeney Jr., Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), Thomas Pape, Chief of the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department (“CPPD”), Dermot Shea, Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), Don Halmy, Chief of the Peekskill Police Department (“PPD”), Thomas Gleason, Commissioner of the Westchester County Department of Public Safety (“WCDPS”), and Anthony J. Annuci, Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (“DOCCS”), announced the unsealing of a 16-Count Indictment charging 18 members of the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation Gang (“Gorilla Stone”) with committing various racketeering, murder, narcotics, firearms, and fraud offenses.  BRANDON SOTO, a/k/a “Stacks,” is charged in connection with the September 21, 2020, murder of a minor in Poughkeepsie.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Philip M. Halpern.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “As alleged in the Indictment, members of Gorilla Stone committed terrible acts of violence, trafficked in narcotics, and even engaged in brazen fraud by exploiting benefits programs meant to provide assistance in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Because of that, communities across the Southern District – from Poughkeepsie to Peekskill to New York City – suffered.  Most shocking, as alleged in the indictment, a minor was murdered in furtherance of the gang’s activities.  Because of the extraordinary work of our law enforcement partners, the defendants now face federal charges for their crimes.”

FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney Jr. said:  “As the indictment alleges, the violence and drug activity committed by these gang members threatened the safety of our communities and placed innocent lives at risk.  Their unabashed criminal behavior, as alleged, included the murder of a 15 year-old and even extended to defrauding programs meant for people suffering economic hardship due to the pandemic.  But thanks to the partnership and hard work of all law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation, we were able to stop this violent criminal organization – and show that Gorilla Stone is actually not ‘untouchable.’”

NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea said:  “These arrests demonstrate the NYPD’s relentless pursuit of the few individuals who drive violence and disorder in New York City.  I commend the NYPD investigators and the many law enforcement agencies involved in this investigation whose hard work resulted in these arrests.  Murder, robberies, narcotics trafficking, and other associated gang behavior will never be tolerated by the people we serve.”

Peekskill Police Chief Don Halmy said:  “While it’s clear that the alleged actions of these individuals had a negative impact on the quality of life in Peekskill, it’s also obvious that the extent of their alleged criminal enterprise was much further reaching.  Through this joint operation, utilizing Federal, County and local law enforcement agencies, communities both large and small will benefit from the arrest of those allegedly responsible for the distribution of illegal narcotics as well as the commission of violent felonies.  We thank all those involved in bringing this to such a successful conclusion."

Westchester County Department of Public Safety Commissioner Thomas Gleason said:  “Today’s arrests put a halt to an alleged criminal enterprise involved in drug trafficking, gang-related violence and other crimes in Westchester and the Hudson Valley.  Our streets are indeed safer thanks to the great work of the Westchester Safe Streets Task Force and all of the partner agencies that contributed to the success of this complex investigation.”

DOCCS Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annuci said:  “DOCCS has zero tolerance for any criminal activity involving incarcerated individuals in its custody and within our facilities. These arrests highlight the successful investigation that the Department fully assisted with in the pursuit of justice.”

Dutchess County Chief Assistant District Attorney Matthew A. Weishaupt said:  “Gorilla Stone Nation, as alleged below, was involved in widespread crimes of violence which erodes the infrastructure and quality of life in our community.  Our office will continue to collaborate with our Federal, State, County and Local partners to eradicate the crime drivers that fuel gang violence.  This effort will enhance the safety and quality of life in our community.  We extend our thanks to the outstanding job of all the law enforcement agencies involved and special thanks to the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force, and Bureau Chief Sara Thompson of our office.”

City of Poughkeepsie Chief of Police Thomas Pape said:  “I would like to thank our partners at the Federal, State and Local levels of law enforcement for the unwavering assistance and dedication to their sworn duties.  These partnerships are proof that collaborations with agencies at all levels of law enforcement work to bring those responsible for the heinous murder of a 15-year-old on our City streets to justice.”

As alleged in the Indictment unsealed today in White Plains federal court[1]:

DWIGHT REID, a/k/a “Dick Wolf,” CHRISTOPHER ERSKINE, a/k/a “Beagle,” WALTER LUSTER, a/k/a “Shells,” DESHAWN THOMAS, a/k/a “Don,” NAYA AUSTIN, a/k/a “Baby,” BRANDON NIEVES, a/k/a “Untouchable Dot,” AHMED WALKER, a/k/a “Ammo,” CASWELL SENIOR, a/k/a “Casanova,” BRANDON SOTO, a/k/a “Stacks,” DEZON WASHINGTON, a/k/a “Blakk,” ROBERT WOODS, a/k/a “Blakk Rob,” STEPHEN HUGH, a/k/a “Chino,” JORDAN INGRAM, a/k/a “Flow,” SHANAY OUTLAW, a/k/a “Easy,” ISAIAH SANTOS, a/k/a “Zay,” ROBERTA SLIGH, a/k/a “Trouble,” and BRINAE THORNTON, a/k/a “Luxury,” are members of a racketeering conspiracy known as Gorilla Stone. 

On September 21, 2020, BRANDON SOTO, to further the Gorilla Stone enterprise, participated in and facilitated the murder of a minor victim, and aided and abetted the same, in Poughkeepsie, New York.

On July 20, 2020, STEPHEN HUGH shot at rival gang members in New Rochelle.  HUGH shot at rival gang members to maintain and increase his position in the Gorilla Stone racketeering enterprise operating in the Southern District of New York.

On June 12, 2020, NAYA AUSTIN, DEZON WASHINGTON, and JORDAN INGRAM committed a gunpoint robbery of a rival drug dealer in Peekskill, New York.  AUSTIN, WASHINGTON, and INGRAM committed the robbery in order to maintain or increase their position in the Gorilla Stone racketeering enterprise operating in the Southern District of New York.

On August 28, 2018, BRINAE THORNTON shot at a rival gang member in Brooklyn, New York, and aided and abetted the same.  THORNTON shot at the rival gang member to maintain and increase her position in the Gorilla Stone racketeering enterprise operating in the Southern District of New York.

On January 12, 2018, ROBERT WOODS maimed and assaulted an individual with a dangerous weapon, and aided and abetted the same, by slashing the individual in the face.  WOODS slashed the individual in part to maintain and increase his position in the Gorilla Stone racketeering enterprise operating in the Southern District of New York.

In August 2020, NAYA AUSTIN and SHANAY OUTLAW, without lawful authority, knowingly used the identification of others to file fraudulent applications for COVID-19-related unemployment benefits, and aided and abetted the same.   

*                      *                     *

Seventeen of the 18 defendants are in custody.

Charts containing the names, charges, and maximum penalties for the defendants are set forth below.  The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI’s Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force – which comprises agents and detectives from the FBI, Yonkers Police Department, Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, WCDPS, PPD, Putnam County Sheriff, Mount Vernon Police Department, NYPD, Greenburgh Police Department, New Rochelle Police Department, Ramapo Police Department, and U.S. Probation – as well as the outstanding investigative work of the CPPD and DOCCS, Office of Special Investigations.  Ms. Strauss also thanked the FBI’s Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force, the FBI’s Newark, Albany, and Tampa Divisions, the New York City Department of Correction, Correction Intelligence Bureau, and the New York State Department of Labor for their assistance in the investigation.

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division and Violent and Organized Crime Unit.  Assistant United States Attorneys Shiva H. Logarajah, Jacob Warren, and David R. Felton are in charge of the prosecution.           

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

COUNT

DEFENDANT(S)

MAX. TERM OF IMPRISONMENT

Count One: Conspiracy to Commit Racketeering (18 U.S.C. § 1962(d))

DWIGHT REID

CHRISTOPHER ERSKINE

WALTER LUSTER

DESHAWN THOMAS

NAYA AUSTIN

BRANDON NIEVES

AHMED WALKER

CASWELL SENIOR

BRANDON SOTO

 

 

DEZON WASHINGTON

ROBERT WOODS

STEPHEN HUGH

JORDAN INGRAM

SHANAY OUTLAW

ISAIAH SANTOS

ROBERTA SLIGH

BRINAE THORNTON

Life in prison as to all defendants except OUTLAW, for whom the maximum term is 20 years in prison

 

Count Two:  Travel Act Murder

(18 U.S.C. §§ 1952 and 2)

 

BRANDON SOTO

Life in prison

Count Three: Attempted Murder and Attempted Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering (18 U.S.C. §§ 1959(a)(5), (a)(6), and 2)

 

STEPHEN HUGH

10 years in prison

Count Four:  Possession and Discharge of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence (18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(i), (ii), (iii) and 2)

 

STEPHEN HUGH

Life in prison; Mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison to run consecutively to any other sentence imposed

 

Count Five: Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering (18 U.S.C. §§ 1959(a)(3) and 2)

 

NAYA AUSTIN

DEZON WASHINGTON

JORDAN INGRAM

 

20 years in prison

Count Six: Possession and Brandish of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence (18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(i), (ii), and 2)

 

NAYA AUSTIN

DEZON WASHINGTON

JORDAN INGRAM

 

Life in prison; Mandatory minimum of 7 years in prison to run consecutively to any other sentence imposed

 

Count Seven: Attempted Murder and Attempted Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering (18 U.S.C. §§ 1959(a)(5), (a)(6), and 2)

 

BRINAE THORNTON

10 years in prison

Count Eight: Possession and Discharge of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence (18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(i), (ii), (iii) and 2)

 

BRINAE THORNTON

Life in prison; Mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison to run consecutively to any other sentence imposed

 

Count Nine: Maiming and Assault in Aid of Racketeering (18 U.S.C. §§ 1959(a)(2), (a)(3), and 2)

ROBERT WOODS

30 years in prison

 

Count Ten: Possession with Intent to Distribute Crack Cocaine (21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B) and 18 U.S.C. § 2)

NAYA AUSTIN

 

40 years in prison; Mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison

Count Eleven: Possession with Intent to Distribute Crack Cocaine (21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B) and 18 U.S.C. § 2)

 

CHRISTOPHER ERSKINE

NAYA AUSTIN

JORDAN INGRAM

40 years in prison; Mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison

Count Twelve: Possession with Intent to Distribute Crack Cocaine (21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a)(1), (b)(1)(B) and 18 U.S.C. § 2)

 

 

BRANDON SOTO

40 years in prison; Mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison

Count Thirteen: Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances (21 U.S.C. § 846)

 

DWIGHT REID

CHRISTOPHER ERSKINE

WALTER LUSTER

DESHAWN THOMAS

NAYA AUSTIN

BRANDON NIEVES

AHMED WALKER

CASWELL SENIOR

BRANDON SOTO

DEZON WASHINGTON

ROBERT WOODS

STEPHEN HUGH

JORDAN INGRAM

ISAIAH SANTOS

ROBERTA SLIGH

BRINAE THORNTON

JAMAL TRENT

Life in prison; Mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison

Count Fourteen: Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime (18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(i) and 2)

 

DWIGHT REID

CHRISTOPHER ERSKINE

WALTER LUSTER

DESHAWN THOMAS

NAYA AUSTIN

BRANDON NIEVES

AHMED WALKER

CASWELL SENIOR

BRANDON SOTO

DEZON WASHINGTON

ROBERT WOODS

STEPHEN HUGH

JORDAN INGRAM

ROBERTA SLIGH

BRINAE THORNTON

Life in prison; Mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison to run consecutively to any other sentence imposed

Count Fifteen: Possession and Brandish of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime (18 U.S.C. §§ 924(c)(1)(A)(i), (ii), and 2)

 

 

ISAIAH SANTOS

Life in prison; Mandatory minimum of 7 years in prison to run consecutively to any other sentence imposed

Count Sixteen: Aggravated Identity Theft (18 U.S.C. §§ 1028A(a)(1), 1028(b) and 2)

NAYA AUSTIN

SHANAY OUTLAW

20 years in prison;

Mandatory minimum of two years in prison 

 

 


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

Topic(s): 
Drug Trafficking
Firearms Offenses
Identity Theft
Violent Crime
Contact: 
James Margolin, Nicholas Biase (212) 637-2600
Press Release Number: 
20-271
Updated December 1, 2020