A sentencing hearing Tuesday for five convicted players in a violent Harlem drug gang became a judge's rallying cry for communities to crack down on gun crime.
"If your relative has money, jewelry and nice clothes but no job, your relative is in the drug business. If you do nothing, you are complicit," Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Edward J. McLaughlin said as he sent convicted gang leader Jaquan "Jay Cash" Layne and four others to prison.
Layne, 21, and his cohorts, including two younger brothers, Malik Layne, 19, and Jahlyl Layne, 18, blanketed a Harlem block with drugs and violence, using gunfire, beatings and robberies to protect their crack-peddling turf, prosecutors said.
Jaquan Layne's girlfriend, Afrika Owes, 17, pleaded guilty earlier to carrying guns and was jailed for four months.
Jaquan Layne, Jahlyl Layne and three others were convicted in October of drug conspiracy and other charges.
But Jaquan Layne's attorney, Frank Rothman, told the judge Layne was a small-time drug seller, not a drug kingpin.
McLaughlin sentenced Jaquan Layne to 20 years to life in prison. Jahlyl Layne got 7 1/2 to 23 1/2 years. Three others were sentenced to 15 years in prison.