A man who federal prosecutors said was a leader of a Roosevelt chapter of the Crips street gang was convicted Thursday of the murder of a leader of the rival Bloods street gang, officials said.
Eric Smith, 29, allegedly one of the seconds-in-command of the Rollin’ 60s chapter of the Crips, with the gang title of The Big Hood, also was convicted Thursday in federal court in Central Islip of charges including attempted murder, cocaine dealing, racketeering and robbery.
“The defendant’s crimes and those of his fellow gang members demonstrated a disregard for human life and the safety of citizens of the Roosevelt community. The defendant took a young man’s life because of his allegiance to a violent street gang,” Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Bridget Rohde said in a statement.
Anthony La Pinta, Smith’s lawyer said: “We are disappointed with the jury’s verdict. We mounted a strident defense by making many compelling arguments. We will continue our efforts for Mr. Smith by promptly appealing this verdict.”
Smith’s conviction came after a five-week trial, officials said. He faces a sentence of up to life in prison.
The murder charge involved the December 2010 shooting death of James McClenic, a leader of the Roosevelt Bloods chapter. Prosecutors said at trial that Smith shot McClenic in the neck several times while the victim sat in a car on a Hempstead street.
McClenic was killed because he had “shot at [a] member of the Crips and was taunting and disrespecting them on social media, such as Twitter,” Eastern District federal prosecutor Michael Maffei said during the trial.
Maffei said that the Rollin’ 60s had “turned the Roosevelt, New York, community into a war zone” between 2003 and 2013.
To harden his image on the streets, Smith used the nickname Esama da Bomba, his variant of the name of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, said Maffei, who prosecuted the case along with Nichole Boeckmann and Christopher Caffarone.
“There is no question that the defendant lived up to his nickname . . . dealt drugs with the gang, robbed for the gang, shot for the gang and killed for the gang,” the prosecutor said.
One of Smith’s attorneys, Anthony La Pinta of Hauppauge, admitted in court that his client had a history of felonies, but said that many of the government’s witnesses were former gang members who fabricated testimony to get a better deal from the government for their crimes.
La Pinta said: “The government’s case is based on evil, violent liars who would sell their grandmothers and bury their friend for self-gain.”
“They have no credibility,” said La Pinta, who defended Smith with attorney Peter Mayer, also of Hauppauge.
In January, the leader of the Rollin’ 60s, Raphael Osborne, who had the title of The Big Whale, was sentenced for his role in the gang’s rampage to three life terms plus 145 years.
Some 20 members of the gang or associates have been convicted of various crimes or are awaiting trial since a crackdown on the chapter began following the 2011 shooting of a Hempstead police officer by a reputed gang member. The officer was shot in the arm and in his bulletproof vest.
The investigation into Smith and the Roosevelt Crips gang was a joint effort by the FBI, the Nassau County police, and the Nassau County district attorney’s office, officials said.