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Press Release

Defendant Sentenced To 17 Years For Murder-For-Hire Scheme And Related Shooting In Poughkeepsie

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

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Michael J. Driscoll, the Assistant Director in Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), and William V. Grady, the Dutchess County District Attorney, announced that JUSTTIN KENYOTTA HAYWOOD was sentenced to 17 years in prison for his participation in a murder-for-hire scheme and related shooting in Poughkeepsie in 2020 in which HAYWOOD, having been offered $5,000 to kill another individual, wrongly identified, pursued, and shot at a 17-year-old boy who had been playing basketball in a park with two friends in Poughkeepsie.  HAYWOOD previously pled guilty to murder for hire and being a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition before United States District Judge Nelson S. Román, who imposed the sentence.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Justtin Haywood’s sentence shows that senseless acts of violence will be met with severe consequences.  Haywood agreed to murder another individual and then shot at an innocent 17-year-old boy, who had been playing basketball with friends in a park.  For this crime, Haywood will spend 17 years in federal prison.”

FBI Assistant Director Michael J. Driscoll said: “As this sentence demonstrates, there is no place in our community for anyone willing to commit murder.  Criminal behavior like Haywood's is a dangerous bane to society and often results in innocent people being placed in harm's way.  The FBI's Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force and our partners in law enforcement work tirelessly to make those who have complete disregard for humanity face the consequences of their actions.”

Dutchess County Chief Assistant District Attorney Matthew Weishaupt said: “We commend the joint effort by all the agencies involved in bringing Mr. Haywood to justice for this horrific shooting and targeting of an innocent young man.  Let the message be clear: we will use all available resources to bring violent criminals to justice and ensure the safety of our community.  We have an outstanding working relationship with our federal partners and will continue to work together to combat this senseless violence.”

According to the Complaint and the Information filed against the defendant, other documents filed in federal court, and statements made in public court proceedings:

In late December 2019 and early January 2020, Haywood traveled from Colorado to North Carolina and then ultimately up to Poughkeepsie, New York, and met with a co-conspirator (“CC-1”) who offered him $5,000 to kill another male individual.  Haywood agreed to do so, and on January 15, 2020, wrongly believing to have found his intended target, approached three teenagers playing basketball in King Street Park in Poughkeepsie and attempted to shoot one of them, a 17-year-old boy, ultimately chasing them in his car as they fled on foot and firing multiple shots from inside of his car.  Fortunately, no one was hit.

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In addition to his prison sentence, HAYWOOD, 40, of Aurora, Colorado, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding work of the FBI, the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department, the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, and the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office.

The FBI’s Hudson Valley Safe Streets Task Force, the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department, the City of Poughkeepsie Police Department, and the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office conducted a joint investigation of the 2020 shooting and murder-for-hire scheme.

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Sullivan is in charge of the prosecution.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated March 6, 2023

Violent Crime
Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 23-089