Grape Street Crips member convicted of murder of bystander

NEWARK, NJ — A member of the Grape Street Crips gang was found guilty April 4 by a federal jury of racketeering conspiracy, murder in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to distribute heroin, and other drug crimes, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Khalil Stafford, aka “Stod” and “Homicide,” 34, of Newark, was convicted following a three-week trial before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo in Newark federal court. The jury deliberated for four hours before returning the verdicts.

Stafford was charged — along with 13 other defendants — with RICO conspiracy, murder in aid racketeering, conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin, and possession with intent to distribute one kilogram of more of heroin. All 14 defendants have now been convicted.

Another 66 members and associates of the Grape Street Crips who were arrested in a coordinated takedown in May 2015 were separately charged with drug-trafficking, physical assaults and witness intimidation, and all have been convicted.

According to documents filed in this case and the evidence at trial, on June 19, 2010, during a family cookout on Garside Street in Newark, Stafford — a long-time member of the Grape Street Crips — confronted an individual about a drug debt. Stafford and several other gang members left the cookout to retrieve firearms and later returned. They fired more than a dozen shots at the person whom Stafford had originally confronted. A woman who was not part of the dispute was standing on a nearby porch, and was shot and killed. Two other people were wounded and survived.

Stafford was also involved in the distribution of heroin from 2003 through 2015. Stafford sold heroin and cocaine at the James Baxter Terrace housing complex from 2003 until it was demolished in 2009. After Baxter Terrace was torn down, Stafford continued to distribute heroin and cocaine at the Wynona Lipman public-housing complex. In 2014, Stafford and a conspirator sold to DEA confidential informants nearly $20,000 worth of heroin in separate transactions.

Stafford faces a mandatory life sentence in connection with the murder in aid of racketeering. For the conspiracy to distribute heroin, Stafford faces a mandatory minimum term of 10 years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison. For the RICO conspiracy, Stafford faces a maximum term of life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for June 12.