Trinitarios Gang Member Sentenced To 3 Years In Prison For Witness Retaliation
Audrey Strauss, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that CHRISTIAN NIEVES, a/k/a “Eric Rosario,” a/k/a “White Boy,” was sentenced today to three years in prison in connection with his retaliation against a witness who had testified at a previous federal murder trial by slashing the witness across the neck with a blade. NIEVES was convicted on April 23, 2021, following an approximately eight-day jury trial presided over by U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff, who also imposed today’s sentence.
U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said: “Christian Nieves’s violent assault of a witness to federal crimes was a naked attempt to subvert the administration of justice, sow fear through the community, and prevent future witnesses from coming forward. Today’s sentence proves that justice will prevail, and sends a clear signal to other gang members that witness retaliation will not be tolerated.”
According to court documents, the evidence at trial, and statements made in court proceedings:
NIEVES was a member of the Trinitarios street and prison gang, a criminal enterprise with written rules, oath, and constitution. The gang has a strict prohibition on cooperation with law enforcement (“snitching”), and violations of the gang’s rules are punished by acts of violence. Among other governing principles, the Trinitarios mandate a “code of silence,” meaning that members are prohibited from cooperating with law enforcement and speaking about the gang in general.
The Trinitarios had an ongoing rivalry with another Dominican gang, Dominicans Don’t Play (“DDPs”). In 2018, a member of the DDPs, Stiven Siri-Reynoso, was convicted following a jury trial before U.S. District Judge Colleen McMahon of charges including the murder of Jessica White, a Bronx mother who was inadvertently hit during a shooting on a playground as part of the rivalry between the DDPs and the Trinitarios. Significant evidence at that July 2018 trial focused on the DDP-Trinitario rivalry. The victim of NIEVES’s retaliation was among the witnesses who testified about the inner workings of the Trinitarios gang (the “Victim”). In the course of his testimony, the Victim testified about crimes that he had committed with NIEVES, including an incident in 2009 when the Victim took a gun from NIEVES after a Trinitarios-related shooting that had resulted in the death of Issi Dominguez. The Victim’s testimony violated the Trinitarios’ longtime prohibition against testifying against members of the gang.
Following his testimony, around 7:00 p.m. on the evening of February 5, 2019, the Victim was walking on Grand Concourse in the Bronx when he saw NIEVES and other Trinitarios gang members on the steps of a building near the sidewalk. As the Victim walked past, one of the group called out to him, and NIEVES and at least one other person began following the Victim. NIEVES caught up to the Victim, took out a razor blade, and slashed at the Victim’s face, cutting him down the jawline. During the attack, NIEVES told the Victim “this is happening to you because you are a snitch.” The Victim received prompt medical attention, including stitches to close the wound.
Ms. Strauss praised the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Allison Nichols and Jun Xiang are in charge of the prosecution.