PLAINFIELD, NJ--A Plainfield man who officials say is a member of a gang based in Elizabeth admitted to shooting an innocent bystander in Plainfield in 2015, Union County Prosecutor Thomas Isenhour said Friday.
Abdul Ward, 26, a member of the Elizabeth-based 111 N.H.C. (Neighborhood Crips) street gang pleaded guilty to aggravated manslaughter in the shooting death of Wilson "Miguel" Valdez, 31, officials from the Union County Prosecutor’s Office said.
In 2015, Plainfield police were called to the 600 block of Berckman Street, after receiving a report of a shooting in that area. When police arrived at the location they discovered the body of Valdez. He was pronounced dead at the scene according to Union County Assistant Prosecutor Jeremiah Lenihan, who prosecuted the case.
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Plainfield patrol units spotted a suspect vehicle leaving the scene of the shooting, and a brief pursuit ended when suspect vehicle collided with an SUV at the intersection of Central Avenue and West Sixth Street.
The vehicle was occupied by Ward and 27-year-old Arthur Negron of Elizabeth, who authorities say is the ringleader of the 111 N.H.C.
Two occupants of the SUV and a pedestrian in the area were treated for minor injuries.
A handgun was recovered from the scene and Ward and Negron were taken into custody, police said.
Days after the killing, Ward, Negron, and about a dozen other defendants were charged with racketeering and numerous other crimes as the result of a long-term Prosecutor's Office's Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force investigation into the gang's activities, according to the release.
The members of the Elizabeth-based street gang faced a 49-count indictment for "white-collar crimes," including filing false tax returns and manufacturing fake gift cards and debit cards to collect thousands of dollars, as well as drug sales, officials said.
A Union County Homicide Task Force investigation revealed that Ward, a confirmed member of the Elizabeth-based street gang, had been targeting a local drug dealer when Valdez was killed. Just days after the shooting, Ward and about a dozen other defendants were charged with racketeering and numerous other crimes as the result of a long-term Prosecutor’s Office’s Guns, Gangs, Drugs, and Violent Crimes Task Force investigation into the gang’s activities.
The investigation resulted in a 49-count indictment returned under New Jersey’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute, targeting the defendants for their roles in incidents of identity theft, tax fraud, illegal production of fake debit and gift cards, and drug sales. The primary target of the investigation and gang ringleader, Negron who was with Ward at the time of the shooting – ultimately pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree racketeering and is awaiting sentencing.
Ten of the defendants in all were sentenced or are awaiting sentencing to state prison terms, as Ward’s manslaughter plea marked the case’s last criminal charge.
The primary target of the investigation and gang ringleader, Negron, ultimately pleaded guilty to first-degree racketeering and is awaiting sentencing.
Sentencing for Ward has been scheduled for Friday, February 2, 2018, at which time the State will recommend a sentence of 28 years in state prison, with 85 percent of the term to be served before the possibility of parole.