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Justice News

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

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Two Men Plead Guilty To Murder And Attempted Murder Involving In 7th Street Case; Third Defendant Pleads Guilty To Rico Conspiracy

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

BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced today that Kasiem Williams, 26, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty to RICO Conspiracy, before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, Leslie Cunningham, 44, of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty to Attempted Murder in Aid of Racketeering, also before Judge Arcara. That charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi, who is handling the case, stated that Kasiem Williams participated in several acts of violence during the course of his involvement in the racketeering conspiracy. Specifically, the defendant participated in the following gang-related shootings:

• On July 10, 2009, Williams shot at a rival 10th Street Gang member during an attempted murder. In the aftermath of the attempted murder, Williams shot himself in the foot.

• On August 11, 2009, Williams spotted rival 10th Street Gang members on the corner of Auburn and West Avenue in Buffalo and notified his fellow gang members to shoot at the 10th Street Gang members.  As a result, Eric Morrow was shot and killed.

• On November 5, 2009, Williams and a fellow gang member shot and attempted to murder a victim on 7th Street in Buffalo because they believed the victim was associated with the 10th Street Gang.   

• On May 24, 2010, Williams and a fellow gang member shot a maintenance worker during the course of attempting to shoot and kill a rival gang member.

• On June 5, 2010, Williams shot and killed Virgil Page at 41 19th Street in Buffalo, a drug rival of Leslie Cunningham. As a result, Cunningham agreed to murder 10th Street Gang rivals for members of the 7th Street Gang as a part of a “favor for a favor” deal.  

• On June 13, 2010, Cunningham went to the vicinity of 224 Virginia Street in Buffalo. Armed with the same .380 caliber semi-automatic handgun used by Kasiem Williams to kill Virgil Page, Cunningham shot a 10th Street Gang associate who was inside a store, and fired several shots at a 10th Street Gang member who was seated inside a sport utility vehicle parked outside the store.

Kasiem Williams also conspired to distribute marijuana, cocaine, and heroin as a part of his involvement in the gang.

In addition, Sammy Ortiz, 28, of Buffalo, pleaded guilty to RICO Conspiracy, also before Judge Arcara. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and $250,000 fine. As a part of his participation in the 7th Street Gang, Ortiz sold cocaine and permitted other members of the gang to store firearms at his residence.   

A total of 18 defendants have been charged in this case, to date 12 have been convicted.
Today’s pleas are the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the FBI Safe Streets Task Force, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Michael Cerretto, 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, New York Field Division.

Kasiem Williams will be sentenced on January 15, 2016, at 1:30 p.m.; Leslie Cunningham on February 3, 2016, at 12:30 p.m.; and Sammy Ortiz on February 4, 2016 at 12:30 p.m., all before Judge Arcara.

Updated October 2, 2015