An associate of a Bloods street gang on the East End was sentenced to 20 years in prison Monday for taking part in the mistaken killing of a man during a targeted attack of an alleged rival gang member, officials said.
Terrill Latney, 40, of Mastic Beach, pleaded guilty in Central Islip federal court to murder as part of racketeering, as well as dealing large quantities of crack cocaine, cocaine and heroin in the Riverhead area.
Thomas Lacolla was fatally shot in November 2015 in Flanders by members of the Red Stone Gorillas Bloods set as he sat in the car of the intended victim, Trendell Walker, an alleged Bloods rival, authorities said.
Latney drove the shooters to the scene before they fired 39 shots into the car, instantly killing Lacolla. Lacolla was a friend of Walker, according to Eastern District federal prosecutors Nicole Boeckmann and Michael Maffei. Latney did not fire any shots, prosecutors said.
Two of the shooters are awaiting sentencing in the case. Walker is awaiting sentencing in an unrelated 2017 fatal shooting of 15-year-old boy as the teenager left a "Night Out Against Crime" rally in a North Bellport park.
The Latney and Walker cases are among federal prosecutions connected to a crackdown on gang violence and drug dealing on the East End involving the FBI and Suffolk County law enforcement’s East End Drug Task Force.
In court papers, Boeckmann and Maffei noted Latney's three previous felony narcotics convictions and said he has never "attempted to be a productive member of society."
The defendant, they said, "has no history of regular or verifiable employment. … The reason for this is clear, Laney works as a drug dealer. That has been his profession for the last 20 years."
"With today’s sentence, justice has been served for years of drug dealing, violence and murder, which wreaked havoc in Riverhead and the surrounding area," Eastern District United States Attorney Seth DuCharme said in a statement. "This outcome brings a measure of closure to the victims and stands for the principle that we remain ever-committed to dismantling violent street gangs on Long Island and restoring safety and the rule of law to every community."
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert before he was sentenced, Latney said: "Before the Covid-19 pandemic struck the nation, I began to see many errors of my past, the horrible decision making, [along] with the faults of my lifestyle I chose to partake in …. I’d like to express my sincerest apologizes to the Lacolla family, who lost a member of their family, a son, brother, father, uncle and cousin Thomas Lacolla to a senseless act of violence."
Latney’s attorney Neil Checkman said after the sentencing that because his client wasn’t one of the shooters — who will likely face even more prison time when they are sentenced — "I think it’s a just sentence," adding "it’s a tragedy all around."