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Press Release

Yonkers Gang Leader Convicted In Federal Court Of Racketeering Charges, Murder, Conspiracy To Murder, Attempted Murder, Narcotics, And Firearms Offenses

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

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that STEVEN KNOWLES, 25, was convicted today in White Plains of various racketeering charges, murder, conspiracy to murder, attempted murder, narcotics conspiracy, and firearms offenses following a four-week jury trial before the U.S. District Judge Kenneth M Karas. The jury convicted KNOWLES of charges arising out of his involvement, from 2000 through 2013, in the criminal activities of the Elm Street Wolves gang (the “Wolves”) – a violent street gang that was involved in drug-trafficking and multiple acts of violence, including murder and attempted murder, in Yonkers, New York.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “It was four years ago almost to the day, July 4, 2009, that Steven Knowles shot down rival gang member Christopher Cokley, killing him in cold blood. With today’s verdict, Knowles is now held accountable for not only Cokley’s murder, but for the years of violence and drug dealing committed by Knowles on the streets of Yonkers. This conviction is a continuation of the long-standing commitment by federal, state, and local law enforcement authorities to rid Yonkers and other communities in the Southern District of New York of violent drug gangs. Law enforcement has pledged itself to this cause for several years now and has not stood down.”

According to the Superseding Indictment and evidence admitted at trial:

From 2000 through 2013, KNOWLES was a member, and then leader, of a racketeering enterprise – the Elm Street Wolves. As part of his participation in that enterprise, KNOWLES conspired to murder a member of a rival gang, the Strip Boyz, which culminated in the violent murder by KNOWLES and others of Christopher Cokley on July 4, 2009. On October 14, 2007, KNOWLES also participated in an attempted murder of Tremaine Garrison, a/k/a “Triggermain,” also a member of the Strip Boyz. Further, KNOWLES participated in a more than decade-long conspiracy to distribute kilograms of crack cocaine within a several block radius of Elm Street and Oak Street in Southwest Yonkers, New York. The evidence at trial also showed that KNOWLES and other members of the Wolves possessed, brandished, and discharged a number of firearms in connection with their drug trafficking and racketeering activities with the Elm Street Wolves gang.

KNOWLES was convicted of one count of racketeering, one count of racketeering conspiracy, one count of conspiracy to murder in aid of racketeering, one count of murder in aid of racketeering, one count of conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute 280 grams and more of crack cocaine, two counts of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence or a drug-trafficking crime, and one count of discharging a firearm in connection with the murder of Christopher Cokley on July 4, 2009. He was acquitted of one count of conspiracy to commit murder, one count of attempted murder, and one count of possession, use, and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, all stemming from shooting another member of the Strip Boyz. KNOWLES faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison, plus 35 years. KNOWLES is scheduled to be sentenced on May 29, 2014, at 10:00 a.m. before Judge Karas.

Mr. BHARARA praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and the Yonkers Police Department. He also thanked the Westchester County Department of Public Safety and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance in the case. He added that the investigation is continuing.

This case is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division and Violent Crimes Unit. Assistant United States Attorneys Andrew Bauer and Jessica Ortiz are in charge of the prosecution.

Updated May 13, 2015

Press Release Number: 13-221