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Short Hills Mall Meeting Leads to Gang Killing

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A high-ranking member of the New Jersey set of the Grape Street Crips today admitted his role in orchestrating a murder, participating in a separate attempted murder, and conspiring to distribute crack-cocaine, Acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick announced.

Rashan Washington a/k/a “Shoota,” 30, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court to five counts of a sixth superseding indictment charging him with murder and attempted murder as part of a racketeering conspiracy, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to possess a firearm, conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of crack-cocaine, and participating in a continuing criminal enterprise.

According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:

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Washington admitted that he orchestrated the murder of a person identified as “Victim-5” in the indictment. On Nov. 12, 2013, Washington purposely left Victim-5 alone inside of a blue Jeep Cherokee knowing that another gang member intended to shoot and kill Victim-5. Washington admitted that, after he set up Victim-5 in the Jeep Cherokee, another gang member shot Victim-5 once in the head, killing him. Afterwards, Washington was promoted to the rank of “G,” of “Gangster,” within the N.J. Grape Street Crips.

As charged in the pending sixth superseding indictment, the gang’s leader, Corey Hamlet, a/k/a “C-Blaze,” 41, of Newark, ordered Victim-5’s murder. Hamlet and other gang members believed that Victim-5 had been disloyal by setting up a meeting at the Mall at Short Hills in Millburn, New Jersey, in an attempt to end a long-running feud between Hamlet and a person identified in the indictment as “Victim-1,” a rival.

After the Short Hills meeting, Hamlet used a social media account to post a report from the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office purportedly indicating that Victim-1 had provided a statement to law enforcement. Just three days after Hamlet’s social media post, gang members – acting on Hamlet’s orders – repeatedly shot and nearly killed Victim-1 and another individual identified in the indictment as “Victim-4,” a bystander who was inside Victim-1’s car. Following the attempted murder of Victim-1, Hamlet ordered Washington and another gang member to murder Victim-5.

Washington also admitted that on Oct. 7, 2013, he and other gang members sought to avenge the murder of a fellow gang member by individuals from a rival gang. Washington and others travelled to the area of Avon Avenue in Newark where one of Washington’s fellow gang members discharged 14 rounds in an attempt to shoot members of the rival gang. After returning to their staging area after the shooting, Washington fled law enforcement who attempted to arrest him and his fellow gang members.

Under the terms of the plea agreement, which has been accepted by the Court, Washington will be sentenced to 30 years in prison and 10 years of supervised release. Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 2, 2018.

Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick credited special agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Carl J. Kotowski, and special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Timothy Gallagher, with the investigation. Acting U.S. Attorney Fitzpatrick also thanked prosecutors and detectives of the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Acting Prosecutor Robert D. Laurino, police officers and detectives of the Newark Department of Public Safety, under the direction of Director Anthony F. Ambrose, and the Essex County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Armando B. Fontoura, for their work on the investigation.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Osmar J. Benvenuto and Barry Kamar of the District of New Jersey’s Criminal Division, as well as Richard J. Ramsay of the Office’s Appeals Division in Newark.

This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. 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.

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