Separate Indictments Stem from Long-Term Investigation that Exposed Multiple Criminal Schemes; Defendants Reside in New York, South Carolina, Connecticut and Elsewhere
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill, today announced that 19 defendants have been variously charged in three separate indictments for allegedly selling 40 trafficked firearms, attempting to steal about $60,000 from bank accounts and possessing two illegal guns. The charges all stem from a long-term investigation that relied on electronic surveillance and revealed interconnected schemes and alliances between alleged gang members and their associates.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “These indictments are a testament of our resolve to continue going after firearm traffickers, who endanger the safety of our communities for profit, and gang members, who often fund their crimes through larceny and fraud. Gun runners and those who aid them should be on notice that they are not safe from prosecution just because they live out of state – we will arrest them and bring them to Brooklyn to face justice.”
Commissioner O’Neill said, “At the heart of this long-term investigation is the trafficking of illegal firearms from South Carolina to New York City. Those guns—40 of them—would be on our streets if not for the hard work of investigators. I want to thank our law enforcement partners who continue to be focused, with us, on keeping this city safe and whose work led to these 19 arrests.”
The Acting District Attorney said that three defendants have been variously charged in a 140-count indictment with first- and second-degree criminal sale of a firearm, fourth-degree conspiracy and related counts; 15 defendants have been variously charged in a 63-count indictment with second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, second-degree attempted grand larceny, third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree conspiracy and related counts; and four defendants have been variously charged in a 10-count indictment with second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, fourth-degree conspiracy and related counts. (Three of the defendants are named in two indictments; see defendant addendum). Fifteen defendants have been arraigned over the past week before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun. Four defendants, who reside in Connecticut and Nassau County, are in custody in those jurisdictions and will be arraigned at a later date.
The initial target of the investigation was Colin (“Rum”) Toney, 27, of South Carolina. Between June 2015 and September 2016, on 19 occasions, Toney allegedly sold a total of 40 guns that were purchased in his home state to an undercover NYPD detective in Brooklyn and Manhattan, according to the indictment. On seven of these occasions, the defendant was accompanied by his girlfriend, Dedra Shantel Wheeler, 21, of South Carolina, who, at times, allegedly conducted the transactions with the undercover. On four occasions, Toney was joined by Donte Smith, 25, also of South Carolina. Toney and Wheeler face up to 25 years in prison and Smith faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top counts with which they are charged.
During the course of the investigation, detectives learned of Toney’s past affiliation with a set of the Bloods gang based in New York City and started to monitor communications of two alleged gang leaders: Alixe (“Kash)” Charlot, 41, of Canarsie, Brooklyn, and Richard (“Gurilla”) Michel, 36, of Flatbush, Brooklyn. Through them, the investigation exposed an alleged larceny operation run by Julius (“Juju”) Salazar, 26, of Far Rockaway, Queens.
As part of the charged scheme, according to the evidence, between May and September of 2016, Salazar enlisted co-conspirators who paid individuals to open bank accounts or provide information about existing accounts. The account holders handed over all personal information associated with their accounts, including dates of birth, Social Security numbers and banking credentials. Salazar then allegedly arranged for either the deposit of fraudulent checks or the completion of fraudulent wire transfers into the accounts. The account holders were then instructed to quickly withdraw the funds (before the banks could discover the bogus transactions) and the co-conspirators split the proceeds.
The investigation found that the larceny operation used accounts at Wells Fargo, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Capital One and TD Bank in four states: New York, Connecticut, Maryland and Georgia. The defendants allegedly tried to steal approximately $60,000 from the banks and succeeded in withdrawing at least $37,000. The defendants charged in this indictment face up to seven years in prison if convicted of the top count with which they are charged.
In the course of the investigation, intercepted communications indicated that unidentified individuals contacted Charlot and Michel on two occasions for the purpose of obtaining firearms from them. The investigative team intervened both times and prevented the weapons from reaching the streets of Brooklyn, according to the indictment.
On June 28, 2016, Michel called Titus (“LS”) Haynes, 34, and Shyla (“Chyna”) Negron, 34, and told them that he needed to secure a gun that they had, so that Michel could deliver the gun to Charlot. The next day, Charlot drove to Harlem to meet Michel and pick up the gun. Around the same time, a vehicle containing Michel, Haynes, and Negron was stopped, and the loaded .380 caliber pistol was recovered from the vehicle. On August 9, 2016, Charlot texted Michel, telling him he needed to pick up a firearm referred to as “Becky.” On August 11, 2016, Charlot drove to Michel’s location in Flatbush to pick up the gun. Michel brought the loaded gun from an apartment in Flatbush to Charlot, whose vehicle was stopped a short time later. A loaded .357 caliber revolver was recovered from the car Charlot was driving. All four defendants face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of the top count with which they are charged in this indictment.
The case was investigated by Detective Brian McSweeney, with the assistance of Detective Frank Kolanovic of the New York City Police Department’s Firearms Investigations Unit, under the supervision of Sergeant Donald Morgan, Sergeant Alex Lago, Lieutenant Michael Jennings, Captain Jonathan Korabel, Deputy Inspector Brian Gill and Captain Jonathan Korabel, Commanding Officer of Firearms Investigation Unit, and the overall supervision of Inspector Richard Green and Assistant Chief James Essig of the Gun Violence Suppression Division.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Owen Sucoff of the District Attorney’s Violent Criminal Enterprises Bureau with the assistance of Assistant District Attorney James Slattery, also of VCE, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Tara Lenich, Deputy Chief for Special Investigations, and Assistant District Attorney Nicole Chavis, VCE Bureau Chief, and the overall supervision of Executive Assistant District Attorney William E. Schaeffer, Chief of Investigations and Patricia McNeill, Deputy Chief.