A Latin Kings gang member accused of fatally shooting a C.W. Post basketball player more than a decade ago pleaded not guilty Wednesday and was held without bail in federal court in Central Islip.
Jaime Rivera, 32, of Freeport, is charged with shooting Tafare Berryman, 22, of Brooklyn in the head in a drive-by killing on April 3, 2005 in what federal authorities said was a case of mistaken identity.
At the five-minute bail hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Steven L. Locke to keep Rivera behind bars until his trial, saying he is a danger to the community and a flight risk.
When federal agents arrived at Rivera’s house on Feb. 4 to arrest him, Gatz said the defendant fled in a car.
“It took agents three days to find him,” Gatz told the judge.
Rivera was planning to go on the lam, Gatz said, because he had $1,200 on him at the time of his arrest and had made arrangements for the care of his dog.
Public defender Randi Chavis, who represents Rivera, asked the judge to consider his “significant” ties to the community where she said he has lived his entire life.
But Locke ordered Rivera held without bail, citing the prosecution’s arguments.
The slaying had been unsolved for nearly 12 years despite it being featured on “America’s Most Wanted” and a $10,000-reward offer.
The arrest came after local law enforcement turned to federal authorities for help. Sources said Latin King members and others being investigated for dealing heroin and committing violent crimes were pressured into giving up information about the Berryman slaying.
On the night Berryman was gunned down, he and Aaron Daly-Firth, then 19, a friend and teammate, along with several hundred C.W. Post students, were at a party at La Mansión Club in Island Park. The club, authorities said, also happened to be a Latin Kings’ hangout.
A brawl had erupted across the street from the club. Berryman and Daly-Firth, who authorities said did not take part in the melee, fled afer Daly-Firth was struck in the head with a bottle.
Daly-Firth, who was driving, had trouble seeing because a cut on his forehead was bleeding into his eyes, according to authorities. He pulled over on Long Beach Road near Henrietta Avenue in Oceanside, so Berryman could drive. As Berryman was sliding into the driver’s seat, authorities said a large, full-size gray or silver car pulled up alongside and two shots were fired, one of which went through Berryman’s arm and into his chest.
Berryman was taken to Long Beach Hospital where he was pronounced dead. Daly-Firth was treated and released.
The evidence against Rivera is strong, according to court documents. It includes testimony from eyewitnesses and “admissions” Rivera allegedly made to “multiple” individuals.