Nine members of a Roosevelt chapter of the Crips street gang have been charged with a host of crimes, including conspiracy, racketeering, and eight counts of attempted murder, involving members of the rival Bloods street gang and a government informant, according to court records and officials.
The nine were also charged in federal court in Central Islip Friday in a 50-count indictment, which ranged from January 2005 to April 2013, with robbery, distribution of cocaine, heroin and marijuana, and use of a weapon in the commission of a felony. The robberies mainly involved those of drug dealers, the records said.
If convicted, the nine each face life in prison.
The alleged victims were not identified in the indictment, filed late Thursday, which was the result of a joint investigation by Eastern District federal and Nassau County prosecutors, the FBI and Nassau County police.
Many of those charged are leaders and members of the Rollin' 60s chapter of the Crips, and had been charged last year by the Nassau district attorney's office with gang-related crimes. But a number of those state charges involved lesser crimes with lesser potential penalties upon conviction, such as sale of a controlled substance and reckless endangerment.
The Crips who were charged were identified as Derick Hernandez, Raphael Osborne, Merlyn Benitez, Daquanne Nunn, Courtney Smith, Tyshawn Gitto, Rommel Lobban, Rudy Montour, and Kurtis Phillip.
Osborne and Hernandez refused to plead guilty at arraignment in federal court in Central Islip, declining to comment or saying they did not recognize the authority of the court or of federal prosecutors.
As a result, U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert entered not guilty pleas for each of them, and said she would hold further hearings to determine how to proceed with their cases. Among the possibilities she said was ordering mental competency hearings and trying them without their presence in the courtroom.
Benitez, Nunn, Smith and Gitto pleaded not guilty. Lobban pleaded not guilty in court Thursday night; Montour was arrested upstate and is being transported to Long Island for arraignment; and Smith is being sought, officials said.
Gitto's lawyer, Richard Haley of Islandia, declined to comment, as did Smith's lawyer, Sally Butler of Bayside, Queens.
Eastern District federal prosecutors Nicole Boeckmann and Christopher Caffarone declined to comment.
The Roosevelt Crips became a focus of increased law enforcement scrutiny in December 2011 when an alleged gang member shot a Hempstead police officer, once in an arm and once in the officer's bulletproof vest. The shooter was sentenced in April 2013 to 25 years in prison.
The Crips was originally a Los Angeles-based gang that has spread across the country with members now in Long Island, Queens and New York, according to the indictment.
Police have said that in the past decade they have identified a total of about 2,700 members of the Crips and their rival Bloods gang on Long Island.