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Hempstead street gang leader gets over 30 years in prison

Andre Chandler, a high-ranking member of the Bloods,

Andre Chandler, a high-ranking member of the Bloods, was sentenced on Thursday, June 7, 2018, to more than 30 years in prison in federal court in Central Islip. Credit: NCPD

A leader of a Hempstead street gang who federal prosecutors say conspired to distribute drugs and shot a rival drug dealer in a 2014 turf war was sentenced Thursday to more than 30 years in prison.

Andre Chandler, 34, who authorities said was a high-ranking member of the Bloods, pleaded for leniency, asking U.S. District Court Judge Joan Azrack in Central Islip to give him a chance to demonstrate he could change and become a better person.

“My past, I cannot change,” Chandler, a father of four, told the judge. “It’s my future I am talking about.”

The judge, however, was not moved.

Chandler committed those and other crimes shortly after he was released from federal prison in July 2014 for selling crack, Azrack noted. Chandler’s recurring criminal behavior, she said, shows, among other things, a lack of respect for the law.

Most disturbing, the judge said, was the fact Chandler hid the 9-mm semi-automatic weapon used in the shooting under the mattress of the bed where a 6-year-old child slept.

The judge sentenced Chandler to a total of 366 months in prison, far less than the 40 years sought by prosecutors.

Chandler, also known as “Mac Dre”, was among 10 “significant players” linked to drug-dealing street gangs arrested in July 2015 and charged with various gun, drug-dealing and assault charges stemming from gang activity in Hempstead Village.

On Dec. 13, 2014, federal prosecutors said Chandler hunted down Hashim Handfield, a rival drug dealer, lured him to his car, and shot him with the pistol in the body and leg. The bullets pierced Handfield’s colon, a lung and a vertebra, and tore a kidney. A bullet remains lodged in Handfield’s body.

“It’s an attempted murder, really,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz.

Federal probation officers searched Chandler’s Queens home in January 2015 and found the 9-mm pistol, later determined to be the gun used to shoot Handfield, tucked under the child’s mattress. In Chandler’s bedroom, officers found a second semi-automatic pistol, envelopes of heroin, drug packaging equipment, and $9,265 in cash. Officers searching a rental car near Chandler’s home recovered a loaded semiautomatic handgun, a digital scale used to weigh narcotics, and heroin, cocaine base, oxycodone and hydrocodone.

In October 2016, a federal jury convicted him of seven crimes after a two-week trial. The jury found Chandler guilty of conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and heroin; discharge of a firearm in relation to that conspiracy; being a felon in possession of three different firearms; possession with intent to distribute crack, heroin, oxycodone and hydrocodone; and possession with intent to distribute heroin.

A woman, identified by Chandler’s attorney as the defendant’s sister, was among more than half a dozen people who showed up in court for the sentencing. She declined to comment as she left the courthouse.

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