Criminal Justice News

Friday, March 24, 2017

Gang Member Pleads Guilty to Federal Murder Charge



21 Red Side Guerilla Brims Members and Associates Charged and Now Convicted

Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ROBERT SHORT, also known as “Santana,” 30, of New Haven, pleaded guilty today in Bridgeport federal court to causing the death of Darrick Cooper through the use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

According to court documents and statements made in court, in January 2014, ATF and the New Haven Police Department began “Operation Red Side” through a series of controlled narcotics purchases and firearms seizures.  The investigation revealed that members and associates of the Red Side Guerilla Brims (“RSGB”), a sect of the Bloods street gang based in New Haven, were engaged in narcotics trafficking and related acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, assaults and armed robberies.  In addition to distributing crack cocaine and other narcotics in and around New Haven, the investigation indicated that members and associates of the RSGB, under the direction of Jeffrey Benton and others, transported the drugs to Bangor, Maine, and sold them in Bangor and its surrounding communities.  The RSGB also traded narcotics for firearms, brought the firearms back to New Haven and distributed them to gang members.
In September 2011, leaders of the RSGB ordered SHORT to murder Darrick Cooper, who was a leader of a rival gang and seen as a threat.  On September 19, 2011, SHORT lured Cooper to a location in Hamden. SHORT then shot Cooper in the back of the head as Cooper walked up a staircase.

With today’s guilty plea, 21 members and associates of the RSGB have now been convicted of federal charges in Connecticut and Maine.  The investigation has resolved seven murder cases, four attempted murders and four armed robberies that occurred in 2011 and 2012.

“The Red Side Guerilla Brims were a violent and ruthless gang that created a climate of terror throughout neighborhoods in New Haven in 2011 and 2012,” said U.S. Attorney Daly.  Twenty-one gang members and associates will now be held responsible for seven cold case homicides, four attempted homicides, four armed robberies as well as drug and gun running from Connecticut to Bangor, Maine.  We hope and pray that the resolution of these homicides and shootings brings some sense of solace to the families of the victims and the communities where this violence occurred.  I thank our law enforcement partners, particularly the ATF, New Haven Police Department and Hamden Police Department, for their tireless dedication during this long-term and ongoing investigation.  They are providing justice for the many victims of this brutal gang, and making New Haven a safer and better place to live.”

“ATF’s mission is to combat violent crime and criminal organizations, and this investigation resulted in meeting that standard,” said Lawrence J. Panetta, Acting Special Agent in Charge, ATF Boston Field Division.  “The arrests and subsequent convictions of the Red Side Guerrilla Brim gang members and their associates, sends a clear message that ATF and its federal, state and local law enforcement partners will not allow these criminal street gangs to continue their violent criminal enterprise.”

SHORT is scheduled to be sentenced on July 5, 2017, by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven.  If the binding plea agreement filed today is accepted by Chief Judge Hall, SHORT faces a sentence of 360 months – or 30 years – of imprisonment.
On March 17, 2017, Jeffrey Benton pleaded guilty to federal racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering offenses, and admitted that he participated in four gang-related murders and one attempted murder.  If his binding plea agreement is accepted by Chief Judge Hall, he faces a sentence of between 30 and 40 years of imprisonment.

U.S. Attorney Daly noted that federal prisoners are required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentenced term of imprisonment and are not eligible for parole.

This investigation is being conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the New Haven Police Department, the Connecticut Department of Correction, the Connecticut State Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Hamden Police Department.  The New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office also provided critical assistance in the investigation.

An instrumental component of the investigation has been the work of the Connecticut State Crime Laboratory in utilizing the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to analyze ballistics evidence.

This matter is being prosecuted in the District of Connecticut by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Spector, Peter Markle and Jocelyn Kaoutzanis.  A related case in the District of Maine is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey.

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