- by Carolyne Volpe Curley / Carolyne@WestEssexNOW.com
All three defendants entered their pleas today before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton federal court.
Franklin "Fat Boy" Simms, 31
US v Franklin Simms Court Papers
He pleaded guilty to:
- one count of conspiring to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute
100 grams or more of heroin
US v Rayshell Strong Court Papers
He pleaded guilty to:
- one count of conspiring to distribute a detectable amount of heroin
Latasha "Tasha" Cherry, 31
US v Latasha Cherry Court papers
She pleaded guilty to:
- one count of conspiring to engage in money laundering
Dirty Block Crime Fam
All three defendants were members of a gang known as “Dirty Block,” also known as:
- Crime Fam
The group operated in a geographic area of Atlantic City that includes the public housing apartment complexes of Stanley Holmes Village and Schoolhouse Apartments. To date, 23 of the 34 defendants charged in this matter have been convicted, either through guilty pleas or following trial.
- Simms and Strong admitted distributing heroin on behalf of one of the gang’s alleged leaders, Tyrone "Rome" Ellis, 33, of Galloway, New Jersey, who was among the 34 defendants charged in May 2013.
- Simms and Strong admitted that from October 2012 through March 2013, they conspired to distribute between 400 and 700 grams of heroin.
- Cherry stated that she conspired with Ellis and others to launder the proceeds by transferring cash onto reloadable prepaid debit cards.
- The drug conspiracy charge to which Simms pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 40 years in prison and a $5 million fine.
- The drug distribution conspiracy charge to which Strong pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
- The money laundering charge to which Cherry pleaded guilty carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $500,000 fine.
Sentencing for all three defendants is scheduled for Sept. 21, 2015.
Fishman credited the following in leading to today’s sentencing:
- Special agents of the FBI’s Newark Division
- Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel
- Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor James P. McClain
- Atlantic City Police Department, under the direction of Chief Henry White
- South Jersey Safe Streets Violent Incident and Gang (Safe Streets) Task Force
For their contributions, Fishman also thanked:
- NJ State Police
- Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office
- Northfield Police Department
- Brigantine Police Department
- Millville Police Department
The US Government is represented by:
- Assistant US Attorneys Patrick Askin
- Justin Danilewitz of the US Attorney’s Office in Camden
- Special Assistant US Attorney Edmund Burgos of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office
Troy A. Archie Esq., of Cinnaminson, New Jersey
J. Michael Farrell Esq., of Philadelphia
Richard Sparaco Esq., of Cherry Hill, New Jersey