A Roosevelt man turned his neighborhood into “a war zone” for five years as he and his violent street gang conducted their drug trade, a federal prosecutor charged yesterday.
Between 2010 and 2015 the Crips street crew run by Raphael Osborne, 29, “brought hundreds of guns to Long Island,” and they didn’t hesitate to use them, prosecutor Nicole Boeckmann said in her opening statement at Osborne’s trial in federal court in Central Islip.
“He turned Roosevelt into a war zone,” Boeckmann told the jury of eight women and four men. “He created an army of young men, an army of young men who swore allegiance to him. He armed it with guns, lot of guns. He was ruthless.”
She said some shootings involved fusillades of up to 19 bullets and the targets were often members of the rival Bloods gang.
“Miraculously,” Boeckmann said, no one was killed, but one victim was paralyzed for life when a bullet shattered his spine.
Defense attorney John Carman of Garden City told the jurors that most non-police witnesses in the case were gang members who would lie to get leniency in their cases.
Carman said jurors would hear “a long list of crimes committed by other people that Raphael Osborne was not involved in,” and he urged the jurors to “ask yourself: ‘What is it that connects it to Mr. Osborne?’
“Roosevelt is a very tough neighborhood. Not everyone who lives in Roosevelt is a gang member,” he said.
Osborne faces life in prison if convicted of the most serious counts of an indictment charging him with racketeering, narcotics trafficking, attempted murder and other crimes.
U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert told the jurors the trial would last four to five weeks.
Boeckmann said testimony would take the jurors through the hierarchy of streets gangs and the role that Osborne played as the leader of a local gang known as Rollin 60s.
“When Mr. Osborne gives an order, it is followed,” she said, adding that gang life was lived under two rules: The gang comes first, even above family, and “you never cooperate with law enforcement.”
Crips member Maurice Gardner violated one of those rules by cooperating with police and was marked for death by Osborne, she said. Osborne turned to a 17-year-old gang member, Denzel Smith, to carry out the killing, she said. Smith “wanted to be a Crip. He wanted to prove himself,” she said.
Smith will testify that he shot Gardner, who was left paralyzed, the prosecutor said.
She conceded to the jurors that she wanted them to believe prosecution witnesses who themselves had committed violent crimes.
“These are not good people,” she said. “They are violent. They committed violent crimes with and for the defendant.”