TWO RING LEADERS ARE CONVICTED OF WEAPONS CHARGES IN CONNECTION WITH A VIRGINIA BASED GUN RING THAT FLOODED A BRONX NEIGHBORHOOD WITH ILLEGAL HANDGUNS AND HIGH POWERED ASSAULT WEAPONS
Bronx District Attorney Robert T. Johnson announced today that two Virginia residents have been convicted of weapons charges in connection with a gun ring that purchased firearms in the state of Virginia for re-sale to buyers in the vicinity of the Gun Hill Housing Projects. The ring was described as a major supplier of guns, ranging from 38 caliber "Saturday Night Special" handguns to deadly Tech 22 caliber assault weapons.
Following four hours of deliberations, a Bronx jury convicted 32 year-old Shawn Pettaway, a predicate felon, from Hampton, Virginia, of 18 Counts of Criminal sale of firearm in the 3rd degree, 6 counts of Criminal possession of a weapon in the 3rd degree, and 6 counts of Criminal possession of a weapon in the 4th degree.
Co-defendant Phenroy Lafayette Day Jr., 27, of Newport News, Virginia was also convicted of 12 counts of Criminal sale of a firearm in the 3rd degree, 10 counts of Criminal possession of a weapon in the 3rd degree, and 2 counts of Criminal possession of a weapon in the 4th degree.
Pettaway could have faced a term of up to 133 years imprisonment, and Lafayette, a term of up to 84 years imprisonment, however, penal law § 70.30 limits the aggregate maximum allowable sentence to be a determinate term of twenty years. Both defendants are scheduled to appear before State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Fisch for sentencing on Thursday, June 19, 2003 in PartT10.
Mr. Johnson said: "This type of prosecution is a significant step in reaching our goal of stemming the tide of illegal handguns imported to the Bronx from other states. As a result of this multi agency initiative countless lives have been saved".
The defendants were arrested following a series of undercover gun purchases by detectives. The weapons were delivered to an apartment at the Gun Hill Houses, rented rooms at motels in the area and the parking lot of a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise. The transactions occurred on an average of once a week between April 1, 2001 and August 28, 2001.
The guns would be purchased in Virginia by relatives and friends of the defendants and then driven to the Bronx for delivery. Virginia law allows citizens to buy one firearm a month, for a total of twelve guns per person per year. The arrests and convictions were the result of a five month joint investigation with the New York City Police Department. According to statistics gathered by the NYPD Firearms Analysis Section, one out of every seven guns recovered in the Bronx during 2001 were related to this investigation.
This investigation was financed in part by a $100,000 special state grant secured with the assistance of State Senator Guy Velella to provide the Bronx District Attorney’s Office with resources specifically earmarked to prosecute gun crimes.
Three other co-defendants Lerone Finley, 34, and Calvin Bailey, 21, both of Newport News, Virginia pled guilty in October 2002, to Criminal possession of a weapon in the 3rd degree, and Letisha Washington, 20, of Troy, Virginia also pled guilty in October 2002, to Criminal sale of a weapon in the 3rd degree. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Finley received a sentence of four years imprisonment and three years post release supervision, Bailey received a sentence of two years imprisonment and three years post release supervision and Washington received a term of up to 4 months in jail and five years probation.
Mr. Johnson thanked United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Paul J. McNulty, the New York City Police Department Firearms Investigations Unit, the Norfolk, Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach task force of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and local authorities, and Detective Investigators from the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for their help in building a case against these defendants. In addition, Mr. Johnson thanked the undercover detective who purchased the guns for this investigation.
Assistant District Attorneys Samuel R. Ramer and Pamela M. Pannes of the Major Case / Housing Task Force Bureau are prosecuting this case.