BRONX, New York (WABC) -- Eight reputed gang members have been arrested in connection with the shooting of a 39-year-old innocent bystander who struck in the right thigh while attempting to shield his three children from a shooting at a Bronx car dealership last year, as well as in other crimes.
Authorities say the same suspects are responsible for a shooting that injured a woman walking on the street, stealing from 10 rideshare drivers, the theft of $300,000 in pandemic relief funds, and several gun crimes.
Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr., and NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea announced the arrests of alleged members of the "20-30" crew, AKA "30 Block" on a 155-count indictment that includes conspiracy to commit murder.
In Manhattan, five of those defendants are charged in a complaint with sophisticated thievery that targeted Uber and Lyft drivers as well as state unemployment funds, netting them hundreds of thousands of dollars.
"These alleged gang members are charged with the two gang activities that plague our communities, financial crimes and wanton gun violence," Clark said. "Manhattan DA Vance's Office and the NYPD began investigating them for stealing from rideshare drivers and other thefts and executed search warrants in their Bronx homes that recovered seven firearms. My Violent Criminal Enterprise Bureau then conducted an investigation and tied the gang to the shootout in a car dealership where a father was wounded while protecting his kids, and to a shooting on the street targeting rival gang members that instead wounded a 52-year-old woman for life. Our investigation also recovered five guns and two large capacity magazines. With our law enforcement partners, I will not let people destroy the Bronx bullet by bullet."
The Manhattan DA's Office's investigation began in May 2020, when the Office's Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau was examining complaints made to the NYPD during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City.
Beginning with a single $750 theft from a Lyft driver, the investigation uncovered an extensive high-tech scheme targeting rideshare drivers.
In total, between January and April 2020, defendants Daijon Crawford, AKA "Dayday;" Aaron Heredia, AKA "Whitey;" Zykeith Fearon, AKA "Kaykay;" and Kelechi Ogidi, AKA "Dresser Mouth," allegedly stole approximately $6,500 from drivers working for companies like Lyft and Uber.
As alleged, the defendants booked rides -- targeting more than 50 drivers -- with a destination address that was nearly identical to the pick-up address.
When the driver noticed the problem, the defendants would ask the driver to call a friend to get the correct address, and then borrow the driver's phone for the conversation. While another passenger distracted the driver, the defendants quickly transferred the drivers' in-app earnings to their own personal bank accounts using debit cards and mobile banking apps like Cash App.
During the investigation of these rideshare thefts, investigators observed several of the defendants posting photos of cash and postal money orders on their social media accounts.
"We've made it our mission to modernize and reposition the Manhattan D.A.'s Office to confront contemporary threats to New Yorkers, and this case shows how the investments we've made to become a global leader in cyber are having a real-world impact on the safety of our communities," Vance said. "As alleged, members of 30 Block did not limit their pandemic crimes to stealing from essential workers or plundering unemployment funds meant to be a lifeline for the most vulnerable - they also helped drive a surge of gun violence in what would become a very bloody summer. Thanks to the expertise of my Office's Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, we were able to unravel these massive schemes, and help unmask the perpetrators of multiple shootings. This case drives home the need for collaboration across boroughs, and I thank the Bronx D.A.'s Office, the NYPD, and all of our law enforcement partners for their work on this investigation."
With assistance from the United States Postal Service, the Manhattan DA's Office determined that these postal money orders were purchased with debit cards loaded with fraudulently obtained pandemic-related unemployment benefits.
Between May and September 2020, the four defendants and Akeyle Baker, AKA "Akey Goon," allegedly used stolen identities to successfully receive more than $300,000 of pandemic-related unemployment funds from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Additionally, three defendants received more than $50,000 in unemployment benefits directly from New York State.
In October 2020, the Manhattan DA's Office, the NYPD, and other law enforcement partners executed search warrants on the defendants' homes in the Wakefield section of the Bronx, Yonkers, and Mount Vernon. Investigators recovered more than $100,000 in cash and money orders, more than 150 credit and debit cards, and a laptop open to an out-of-state online unemployment application, as well as loaded firearms.
Based on the evidence obtained in the Manhattan DA's search warrants, the Bronx DA's Office and the Violent Criminal Enterprise Bureau launched its own investigation into the violent crimes committed by members of the 20-30 gang.
"These alleged gang members are charged with using elaborate financial crimes to fuel a violent lifestyle that harmed innocent New Yorkers and tore at the fabric of life in two boroughs," Shea said. "But our investigators and prosecutors, worked together to stop them, once again highlighting our intelligence-driven approach to building strong cases, getting illegal guns off our streets and keeping New Yorkers safe."
According to the indictment in the Bronx, on or about August 9, 2020, Baker sent a message on an instant messaging app stating that the chat participants need an address of a member of the rival Mac Baller gang in order to go and shoot him. On or about August 10, 2020, Fearon sent a message reminding the chat participants to have a firearm readily available: "friendly reminder to carry artillery everywhere..."
According to the investigation, on September 21, 2020, Baker, Heredia, Crawford, Fearon, and others exchanged dozens of messages on an instant messaging app in which they agreed and planned to shoot the rival gang member. Later that day, 20-30 crew members went to a car dealership at 4077 Boston road, where their intended target was looking at luxury vehicles.
Baker, Fearon and Crawford allegedly fired multiple shots at their target, and he returned fire. A 39-year-old Bronx man who was there to buy a car with his three children was caught in the shootout and was struck three times as he shielded his children with his body. A bullet remains in his thigh.
According to the investigation, in the afternoon of September 30, 2020, on East 224th Street, Delroy Salmon, AKA "Dboy," acting with others, allegedly shot at an unidentified rival gang member, but struck an innocent bystander, a 52-year-old woman who suffered a life-altering injury. Salmon later sent a text saying, "just had a shoot out."
Tahari Pritchard, AKA "Binny," was charged with possessing a loaded pistol in January 2021 and was charged with Dorien Alexander, AKA "Gz," in March 2021 for possessing four loaded firearms.
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