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Press Release

Two Men Arrested And Charged With 2008 Murder

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

Joon H. Kim, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Division of the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), and James P. O’Neill, the Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (“NYPD”), announced the arrests of FRANKLYN STERLING and XAVIER DELISER for the 2008 murder of Francisco Unapanta. STERLING was arrested on August 10, 2017, and DELISER was arrested this morning.

On August 10, 2017, a one-count indictment was unsealed charging STERLING and DELISER with committing murder through the use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. STERLING was presented in federal court in Manhattan before U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis on August 10 and ordered detained; DELISER will be presented later today in federal court. The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald, who has scheduled an initial conference for Tuesday, August 29, 2017, at 11:00 a.m.

Acting United States Attorney Joon H. Kim said: “As alleged, Franklyn Sterling and Xavier Deliser shot and killed Francisco Unapanta during a Brooklyn robbery nearly nine years ago, a murder that remained unsolved until now. Together with our law enforcement partners, we will continue to pursue justice for victims like Mr. Unapanta, no matter how cold the case.”


ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan M. Benedict said: “Francisco Unapanta and a co-worker were hard working immigrants who fell victim to a gun point robbery alleged to have been committed by Sterling and Deliser. A struggle ensued during the robbery and Unapanta was fatally shot. Thanks to the outstanding investigative work of the special agents and detectives assigned to the ATF SPARTA Task Force, for whom the passage of time does not lessen the resolve to identify the perpetrators of violent criminal activity, these defendants will now face justice for their alleged crimes.”


NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill said: “Our commitment to both preventing and solving crime is relentless. This homicide, nearly a decade old, is further evidence of our commitment. Thanks to the detectives, agents, and prosecutors whose focus led to the arrests and charges.”

As alleged in the Indictment against STERLING and DELISER[1]:

On September 3, 2008, in the vicinity of 358 Montgomery Street in Brooklyn, FRANKLYN STERLING and XAVIER DELISER robbed Francisco Unapanta, and during the course of that robbery, Unapanta was shot and killed.


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STERLING, 34, of Brooklyn, and DELISER, 34, of Brooklyn, each face a maximum sentence of death or life in prison, and a mandatory term of five years in prison.

The statutory maximum and minimum sentences are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for information purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants would be determined by the respective judges.

Mr. Kim praised the investigative work of the NYPD and the ATF, and in particular the Strategic Patterned Armed Robbery Technical Apprehension (“SPARTA”) Task Force, which is composed of agents and officers of the ATF and the NYPD. Mr. Kim also thanked the Joint Regional Fugitive Task Force for their work in apprehending DELISER.


This matter is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Scott Hartman, David Zhou, and Jason Swergold are in charge of the prosecution.


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


[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.

Updated August 15, 2017

Violent Crime
Press Release Number: 17-254