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Bloods gang member convicted in fatal shooting of rival gang member, feds say

A Bloods gang member was convicted Tuesday of fatally shooting a rival Crips gang member at a Deer Park gentlemen’s club in 2017, as well as rape, sex trafficking, drug, weapons and witness intimidation charges, prosecutors said.

Lawrence Lewis, 38, of Calverton, was found guilty of murder in the fatal shooting of John Birt on July 29, 2017, at the Illusions Gentlemen’s Club, prosecutors said in a news release Tuesday.

Lewis, who prosecutors said is also known by the street name of "L Boggs," and another alleged Bloods gang member approached Birt, who was posing for pictures inside the club, and got into a dispute after Lewis’ associate attempted to display a Bloods hand signal, prosecutors said.

Birt began arguing with Lewis, who then shot and killed him. Afterward, according to prosecutors, Lewis texted others that he was "sleeping good" and would "do it again."

"Lewis’ conviction today ensures that he will never again be able to terrorize our community with his senseless acts of gang-related violence," U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.

Prosecutors alleged at trial that between April 2004 and June 2019, Lewis sold cocaine base and heroin in Suffolk County and possessed several firearms — including an AR-15 assault rifle, a pistol-grip 12-gauge shotgun, a Mossberg .22 caliber rifle and a Ruger .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol — in order to protect his drug supply.

Prosecutors also said in 2014, Lewis forced a woman into prostitution until she repaid a debt to him after his guns were stolen.

A jury found Lewis guilty of the charges following a four-week trial in federal court in Central Islip. U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert, who presided over the trial, did not immediately set a date for sentencing. Lewis faces a mandatory penalty of life in prison on the murder charge.

Lewis’ first murder trial ended in November 2019 in a mistrial after prosecutors said Lewis’ then-attorney, Christopher Cassar, was being investigated by federal authorities for alleged witness tampering. Cassar had sent a newspaper article to a witness who was set to testify against Lewis, prosecutors said then.

John Marzulli, a spokesman for the prosecution, declined to comment on the status of the investigation Tuesday.

Lewis’ defense attorney, Peter Brill, said his client was raised in an "abusive household" and was exposed to drugs at a young age.

"We believe that no one is beyond redemption and we hope that the judge will take into account the horrific circumstances of Mr. Lewis’ life in determining a fair sentence," Brill said.

Lewis was also convicted of witness tampering. Prosecutors said Lewis "and others acting on his behalf made efforts to prevent witnesses from testifying against him, through the use of veiled and implicit threats of violence."

Ricky J. Patel, the acting special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in New York, said in a statement: "With extreme violence and indifference to human life, Lawrence Lewis with the Bloods street gang reigned terror over neighborhoods in Suffolk County, Long Island for over a decade."

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