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Press Release

A Leader Of Gorilla Stone Sentenced To 35 Years In Prison For Murder Of 15-Year-Old And Other Offenses

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, announced that BRANDON SOTO, a/k/a “Stacks,” was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Philip M. Halpern to 35 years in prison for racketeering, transferring a firearm to a juvenile, and conspiracy to commit arson arising out of his leadership role in the Untouchable Gorilla Stone Nation Bloods Gang (“Gorilla Stone”).  As part of his participation in the racketeering conspiracy, SOTO planned out and ordered a fellow gang member, who was a teenager at the time, to murder a rival gang member.  On September 21, 2020, SOTO drove the shooter to the location and provided him with the gun and directions to commit the shooting.  With people, including small children, nearby, the shooter shot Jalani Jones in the head, killing him instantly.  Jones was just 15 years old at the time.  Following the murder, SOTO took numerous steps to avoid detection, including setting fire to the car that was used in connection with the murder and ordering the deletion of social media accounts associated with those involved.  SOTO previously pled guilty on October 27, 2022, before Judge Halpern to one count of conspiring to conduct and participate in the conduct of the affairs of a criminal enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity, one count of transferring a firearm to a juvenile, and one count of conspiracy to commit arson.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Brandon Soto used his leadership role in the violent Gorilla Stone gang to direct a teenager to kill a 15-year-old boy, who was riding his bike down the street.  This horrific act of violence was committed in broad daylight as small children looked on just feet away.  Today’s sentence holds Soto accountable for the senseless murder of Jalani Jones, as well as for his yearslong participation in the wide range of crimes committed by the Gorilla Stone gang.  Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively prosecute those who engage in such violence in our communities.” 

According to the Indictment, public court filings, and statements made in court:

Since at least 2004, Gorilla Stone has been a brutally violent street gang with a national presence that was founded by SOTO’s co-defendant Dwight Reid, a/k/a “Dick Wolf.”  Gorilla Stone has many members across New York State, including throughout New York City, Westchester, and the New York State Prison System, and all over the country.  Gorilla Stone is comprised of various sets (or “Caves” as they are called by gang members).  Gorilla Stone is a highly organized and efficient street gang with an organizational commitment to violence that strictly enforces its internal laws.

For years, SOTO participated in and was associated with the Gorilla Stone racketeering conspiracy.  Over time, SOTO rose to a leadership role in the gang.  SOTO took an active role in the gang’s distribution of crack cocaine, which is one of the main ways the gang made money.  SOTO was also one of the gang’s more violent members.  SOTO bragged about his access to firearms and directed that his reports in the gang commit retaliatory acts of violence, the most significant of which was his direction and involvement in the murder of Jalani Jones.  Following the murder of Mr. Jones, SOTO got a new phone number and directed another Gorilla Stone member to delete relevant social media accounts to avoid being caught.  Days after the murder, SOTO’s car, which he had used in connection with the murder, was towed.  SOTO went with other Gorilla Stone members to the lot where the car was parked, stole the car from the lot, and then set it on fire in a further effort to avoid being caught.

SOTO’s violence extended beyond his involvement in the murder of Mr. Jones.  SOTO violently attacked someone in the street, punching and kicking the man in the head and body as he lay defenseless on the ground and ultimately became unconscious.  As SOTO beat the man unconscious, he yelled “You’re not Gorilla.”  The violent incident was recorded on video, and SOTO proudly posted the video to his Instagram account.

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In addition to the prison term, SOTO, 26, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced to three years of supervised release.

All 21 defendants in the Gorilla Stone case before Judge Halpern have been convicted.  With SOTO’s sentencing today, 14 defendants have been sentenced and seven defendants have been convicted and are awaiting sentencing.  The 13 defendants aside from SOTO who have been sentenced by Judge Halpern to date are:

  • Godfather DONAVAN GILLARD, a/k/a “Donnie Love,” who was sentenced to 248 months in prison;
  • Godmother NAYA AUSTIN, a/k/a “Baby,” who was sentenced to 234 months in prison;
  • Godmother BRINAE THORNTON, a/k/a “Luxury,” who was sentenced to 210 months in prison;
  • JARRETT CRISLER, Jr., a/k/a “Jayecee,” who was sentenced to 207 months in prison;
  • CASWELL SENIOR, a/k/a “Casanova,” who was sentenced to 188 months in prison;
  • Godfather BRANDON NIEVES, a/k/a “Untouchable Dot,” who was sentenced to 110 months in prison;
  • JAMAL TRENT, a/k/a “Trap Smoke,” who was sentenced to nine years in prison;
  • DEZON WASHINGTON, a/k/a “Blakk,” who was sentenced to 97 months in prison;
  • ROBERTA SLIGH, a/k/a “Trouble,” who was sentenced to eight years in prison; 
  • JORDAN INGRAM, a/k/a “Flow,” who was sentenced to eight years in prison;
  • STEPHEN HUGH, a/k/a “Chino,” who was sentenced to seven years in prison;
  • ISAIAH SANTOS, a/k/a “Zay,” who was sentenced to seven years in prison; and
  • SHANAY OUTLAW, a/k/a “Easy,” who was sentenced to three years in prison.

Five additional defendants have pled guilty and are awaiting sentencing: Godfather DESHAWN THOMAS, a/k/a “Don,” Godfather WALTER LUSTER, a/k/a “Shells,” AHMED WALKER, a/k/a “Ammo,” NEIKO CRUDUP, a/k/a “JhitRilla,” and ROBERT WOODS, a/k/a “Blakk Rob.”  Finally, DWIGHT REID a/k/a “Dick Wolf,” and CHRISTOPHER ERSKINE, a/k/a “Beagle,” were convicted following a jury trial and are awaiting sentencing.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (“FBI”) Westchester County Safe Streets Task Force, which is comprised of special agents and task force officers from the FBI; U.S. Probation; New York State Police; New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision; New York City Police Department; Westchester County Police Department; Westchester County District Attorney’s Office; Putnam County Sheriff’s Office; Rockland District Attorney’s Office; and the Yonkers, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon, Greenburgh, White Plains, Peekskill, Ramapo, and Clarkstown Police Departments.  Mr. Williams also thanked the Dutchess County District Attorney’s Office and the Poughkeepsie Police Department for their assistance. 

This case is being prosecuted by the Office’s White Plains Division.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shiva H. Logarajah, David R. Felton, Courtney L. Heavey, and Kathryn Wheelock are in charge of the prosecution.


Nicholas Biase, Lauren Scarff
(212) 637-2600

Updated February 22, 2024

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 24-066