NEWARK, NJ - Acting Essex County Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino announced today that Bomani Duncan, 20, of Bloomfield entered a guilty plea, admitting to using Twitter to recruit gang members and sell guns. He also pled guilty to possession of a handgun.Co-defendants Taquan Williams, 22, and Yasin Shabazz, 20, both of East Orange, also entered guilty pleas.
Assistant Prosecutor Joseph A. Giordano, who handled the case, said under the terms of the plea agreement entered before the Honorable John Gizzo, Judge of the Superior Court, Duncan is expected to be sentenced to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison. He must serve five years before he is eligible for parole.
The charges arise from a robbery that occurred on March 17, 2015 when Duncan arranged a deal on Twitter to meet the victim in a parking lot in East Orange where he stole $200 from her. Later that night, he was arrested with a silver .38 revolver and an imitation firearm. He admitted using a Twitter account which he also used during the same time frame to contact another Twitter user later identified as the co-defendant, Shabazz.
Using Twitter, he not only attempted to sell a firearm to Shabazz, but he also attempted to recruit Shabazz to join the Ella Street Gang. The gun was recovered from his car and appeared in a still photograph from his music video posted shortly after the robbery.
“The Internet is not a magical place where the law does not apply. This case clearly shows that old laws still apply in the digital world. The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office will prosecute those who violate the law whether it be in the streets, online, or both,” said Assistant Prosecutor Giordano.
"I want to commend the Essex County Prosecutors office and the members of the Bloomfield Police Department for working collaboratively on this very successful prosecution." said Bloomfield Public Safety Director Samuel DeMaio. "This is a clear case of how policing has changed in the technology age and the use of social media is used in so many investigations. This dangerous criminal will no longer walk the streets of our township."
Shabazz plead guilty to one count of fourth degree attempting to buy an illegal firearm. He admitted to using a Twitter handle to purchase a firearm from Duncan.
Co-defendant Williams plead guilty to the theft. He also plead guilty to an unrelated burglary and theft that occurred prior to this crime. The state recommended a sentence of five years State Prison, the maximum sentence for such crimes.
Duncan also admitted to possessing a second handgun on Sept. 30, 2015 which was found in his black Mercedes while he was out on bail for the first gun charge.
Sentencing for all three men is scheduled for Sept. 11 before Judge Gizzo.