Gang member sentenced to 30 years for murder and attempted murder

NEWARK, NJ — A high-ranking member of the New Jersey Grape Street Crips was sentenced Oct. 23 to 30 years in federal prison for his role in orchestrating a murder, participating in a separate attempted murder, and conspiring to distribute copious amounts of crack cocaine, all as part of a racketeering conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Rashan Washington, aka “Shoota,” 31, previously pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo to five counts in the sixth superseding indictment, which charged him with murder and attempted murders as part of a RICO 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. On Oct. 23, Arleo imposed the sentence in Newark federal court. Washington’s sentence will run consecutively to a 14-year sentence previously imposed by the Essex County Superior Court for his role in a separate shooting.

Washington was one of 14 defendants charged in November 2016 in a 22-count indictment with, among other things, seven murders, numerous attempted murders and other violent and drug-trafficking crimes committed as part of the racketeering conspiracy. Twelve of the 14 defendants have now been convicted. The two remaining defendants, Hanee Cureton and Khalil Stafford, are pending trial; charges against them remain accusations as all individuals are considered innocent until found guilty in a court of law.

An additional 68 members and associates of the Grape Street Crips arrested in a coordinated takedown in May 2015 were separately charged with drug-trafficking, physical assaults and witness intimidation; 66 individuals also have been convicted, and charges remain pending against two.

According to the documents filed in this case and other cases and the evidence presented at trial:

As part of the racketeering conspiracy, Washington admitted that he orchestrated Anwar West’s murder on the orders of the gang’s leader, Corey Hamlet, aka “C-Blaze,” “Blaze,” “Blizzie” and “Castor Troy,” 42, of Newark. Hamlet, Washington and other gang members believed that West had been disloyal by setting up a meeting at the Mall at Short Hills in Millburn in an attempt to end a long-running feud between Hamlet and Almalik Anderson, 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 Anderson 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 Anderson and Saidah Goines, a bystander who was inside Anderson’s car. Following the attempted murder of Anderson, Hamlet ordered Washington and another gang member to murder West.

To set up West’s murder, Washington purposely left him alone inside of a blue Jeep Cherokee knowing that another gang member intended to shoot and kill West. Washington admitted that, after he set up West in the Jeep Cherokee, another gang member shot West once in the head, killing him. Afterward, Washington was promoted to the rank of “G,” or “Gangster,” within the NJ Grape Street Crips.

Washington also admitted that on Oct. 7, 2013, he and other gang members sought to avenge the murder of a fellow gang member who had recently been killed by rival gang members. Washington and his fellow gang members traveled to the area of Avon Avenue in Newark where one of Washington’s fellow gang members fired 14 shots 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.

Finally, Washington admitted to participating in a conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of crack cocaine and participating in a continuing criminal enterprise.