Gang bust nabs dozens

Brian Bowling
| Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010

Police and federal authorities hope they've dismantled a North Side gang responsible for more than a decade of violence and crime.

Announcing the indictment of 26 alleged members of the Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips, acting U.S. Attorney Robert Cessar said Wednesday the group has been one of the most violent street gangs in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

"Hopefully, and if we succeed in this indictment, they have preyed upon our community for the last time," Cessar said.

The 37-count indictment charges the suspects with racketeering and crimes that range from drug dealing and robbery to attempted murder. A 27th person is charged with obstruction of justice but not racketeering.

Officers arrested seven of the people yesterday morning. Another 17 already were in custody on other charges, Cessar said. Two remained at large.

Cessar said the Brighton Place Crips formed in 1990 and controlled an area around Brighton Place and Morrison and Federal streets. The Northview Heights/Fineview Crips formed in 2001 and 2002, he said. A year later, they allied with the Brighton Place gang to expand their drug territory and increase their numbers, he said.

The gangs wore blue bandanas, shirts and tennis shoes, used hand signs and gang phrases and have tattoos identifying themselves as Crips, Cessar said. Their primary operation was selling heroin, cocaine and crack, he said.

"They protected the enterprise through violence," Cessar said.

Much of that violence was directed at the Manchester Original Gangsters, a rival North Side gang, according to the indictment. The Crips congregated in an abandoned building at 1728 Brighton Place.

The gang would pay attorney fees for members who were arrested, post bail, put money into jail commissary accounts and support family members, the indictment says. It also bribed or intimidated witnesses, the indictment says.

Pittsburgh police Deputy Chief Paul Donaldson said the indictments are the culmination of a two-year investigation that should lead to further arrests and additional charges. The nature of the charges differentiates this from other gang sweeps, he said.

"We're talking about some serious time if these people are convicted, 20 years to life. So it's going to make a big difference," Donaldson said.

The multi-agency investigation and federal participation are comparable to a mid-1990s effort that dismantled the Lawrence Avenue-Wilkinsburg (LAW) gang, he said.

"We're looking for collateral arrests from this," Donaldson said. "I'm confident that we got most of the significant people involved."

Other agencies involved included the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Pittsburgh and Allegheny County police; the county sheriff's office; and state police.

Additional Information:

List of alleged members

Here are the alleged members of the North Side-based Brighton Place/Northview Heights Crips charged with racketeering and crimes ranging from drug dealing and robbery to attempted murder:

- Robert Colbert, 28, aka 'Ballz' of Summerdale Street

- Kevin Underwood, 28, aka 'J Reed' of Brighton Place

- Nicky Evans, 30, aka 'Yama' of Perrysville Avenue

- Michael Henson, 28, aka 'Henne' of Strauss Street

- Terrell Henson, 24, aka 'Fifty' of Strauss Street

- Hosea Ghafoor, 27, aka 'Bey' of Kirkbride Street

- Bryant Mathis, 21, aka 'B' or 'Lil B', no address available

- Aaron Ford, 29, aka 'Forty' or 'Forty Cal' of Hazlett Street

- Lamon Street, 18, aka 'M-Dot' or 'Mon', no address available

- Vallon Wallace, 22, aka 'VL' of Brighton Place

- Maurice Wallace, 21, aka 'Reese', no address available

- Dwayne Johnson, 22, aka 'Weezie' or 'Fat Wayne' of St. Ives Street

- James Pendleton, 28, aka 'Jim Bob' or 'Bob' of Lafayette Avenue

- Jamar Pharr, 26, aka 'Brownway' of Hazlett Street

- Lynn Gibson, 25, aka 'Mennace' or 'Menno' of Edgar Street

- Rayshawn Malachi, 24, aka 'Melly Mel' of Salter Way

- Arthur Davis, 22, aka 'Seven' of Shadeland Avenue

- Michael Wade, 23, aka 'Swade' of Dehaven Street

- Vance Pearson, 24, aka 'Vinnie P' of East Jefferson Street

- Phillip Turner, 21, aka 'Philly C', no address available

- Terrance Clark, age unavailable, aka 'Doo Wop' or 'Doodles' or 'Magnolia Wop', no address available

- Teron Jenkins, age unavailable, aka 'Project' of Sandusky Court

- Dominique Steele, age unavailable, aka 'C-Flack,' no address available

- Karl Anger, 21, aka 'K-Loc' of Woodlow Street

- Nicklas Gay, 22, aka 'GK' of Superior Avenue

- Devon Shealey, 23, of Luray Street

- Cheryl Chambers, age unavailable, of Perrysville Avenue is charged with obstruction of justice but not with participating in the gang's racketeering operations.

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