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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

Monday, May 9, 2016

7th Street Gang Associate Pleads Guilty To Rico Conspiracy; The Last Of 18 Defendants Charged In The Case

CONTACT:      Barbara Burns
PHONE:         (716) 843-5817
FAX:            (716) 551-3051

Buffalo, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that 7th Street Gang associate Joseph Whitely, 26, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty to Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) conspiracy before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

“For more than 10 years, the 7th Street Gang – together with their 10th Street gang rivals– perpetrated violence, trafficked in deadly narcotics, and terrorized residents living on the West Side of Buffalo,” said U.S. Attorney Hochul. “As a result of this prosecution, more than five dozen gang members have been removed from our community. Most importantly, peace and hope for a better future have been restored.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi, who is handling the case, stated that the
7th  Street  Gang  was  responsible  for  narcotics  trafficking,  numerous  shootings  and multiple murders in the 7th Street area of the West Side of Buffalo between 2000 and
2012.  Defendant Whitely, as a 7th Street Gang associate, sold heroin on behalf of the gang.

Regarding violence, Whitely served as the getaway driver for 7th Street Gang member Efrain Hidalgo, who murdered rival 10th Street Gang member Eric Morrow on August 11, 2009. In doing so, Whitely assisted Hidalgo to avoid capture by the Buffalo Police Department.
A total of 18 defendants were charged in the prosecution of the 7th Street gang. All 18 defendants have now been convicted.  The prosecution of the 10th Street gang, meanwhile, involved 44 defendants, all of whom were convicted.

“The successful prosecution of the 7th and 10th Street gangs, and the resulting prosperity of the City’s West Side, demonstrates the true value of federal intervention,” U.S. Attorney Hochul further stated. “We will continue such vigorous efforts until every last gang member operating anywhere in this District is brought to justice.”

The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Steven Nigrelli, the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Daniel Derenda, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Delano A. Reid.

Sentencing  is  scheduled  for  September  15,  2016  at  12:30  p.m.  before  Judge Arcara.

Updated May 12, 2016