A Norfolk, Virginia, man was sentenced today to three consecutive life terms plus an additional 40 years in prison for his leadership role in a racketeering conspiracy, multiple murders, multiple attempted murders and various drug and gun crimes, all as part of his leadership of the Nine Trey Gangsters Bloods gang according to a press release by the Department of Justice.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger for the Eastern District of Virginia; Special Agent in Charge Martin Culbreth of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; Interim Chief Angela Greene of Portsmouth Police; Chief Larry D. Boone of Norfolk Police; Chief James A. Cervera of Virginia Beach Police; Chief Colonel K.L. Wright of Chesapeake Police and Chief Thomas E. Bennett of Suffolk Police made the announcement.
According to evidence introduced at trial, Antonio Simmons, aka Murdock, 41, was a high-ranking leader of a group of Portsmouth and Norfolk-based members of the Nine Trey Gangsters, a Bloods gang affiliated with the United Blood Nation. Simmons and five other members and associates of the gang were charged for their roles in a spate of extreme violence in December 2015 that ended with five people dead and four others shot during seven separate shootings that crossed nearly every city in South Hampton Roads. Simmons was sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark S. Davis.
Nearly all of the victims in the case were unaffiliated with the Nine Trey Gangsters or any other gang. They included two mothers of young children and one grandmother who was murdered, along with her boyfriend, because gang members believed she was cooperating with the police in an investigation of another shooting carried out by a Nine Trey member just weeks before.
Simmons was found guilty of the two murders that occurred during attempted robberies he directed his men to commit. By the end of December, two of the gang’s primary shooters, Anthony Foye, aka Ace, and Nathaniel Mitchell, aka Savage, were in a competition to see who could gain a reputation within the gang for shooting the most people. To even the score the men were keeping, Mitchell gunned down a woman walking home from her job at the Norfolk International Airport four days before Christmas. The evidence at trial showed that Simmons bragged about the shootings carried out by Foye and Mitchell.
In late 2015, Simmons ordered Foye, Mitchell and co-conspirators Alvaughn Davis, aka LB, and Malek Lassiter, aka Leeko, to murder high-ranking members of a rival Hampton Roads-based Nine Trey Gangsters “line.” When the men were unable to find two of their targets, they drove to the house of a third man they planned to shoot. When the woman who opened the door told them the man was not at home, they shot her six times; her life was saved by the quick response of local EMTs and the Portsmouth Police Department. While the men fled from the scene, they fired several rounds at witnesses looking out of their windows. Foye and Mitchell were arrested after robbing a gas station store later the same night.
Simmons, Mitchell and Lassiter were convicted on all counts after a seven-week jury trial. Foye and Davis pleaded guilty before trial, and another associate of the gang, Donte Brehon, pleaded guilty in a separate case. Simmons was the last defendant to be sentenced. The men charged, and the sentences they received, are as follows:
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
The case was investigated as part of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF), Operation Billy Club. The OCDETF program is a federal multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional task force that supplies supplemental federal funding to federal and state agencies involved in the identification, investigation, and prosecution of major drug trafficking organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.
Trial Attorney Teresa A. Wallbaum of the Justice Department’s Organized Crime and Gang Section and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph E. DePadilla, Andrew C. Bosse and John F. Butler prosecuted the case.
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