Indictment and Arrests of Persons Charged as Participants in a Gang
The Mahoning Valley Violent Crimes Task Force, an FBI-sponsored task force, announces the arrest of members of the “E-BLOCK” criminal street gang and their associates after a Mahoning County grand jury returned a 20-count indictment charging 11 people for their participation in the Youngstown-area criminal street gang. One additional person was charged through the Mahoning County Juvenile Court for participation in the criminal street gang.
The E-BLOCK gang was involved in street level drug trafficking and acts of violence in and around the West side of Youngstown. In 2013, the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force began investigating members of this group because of neighborhood tips detailing their ongoing criminal activity and because the group has been a known catalyst for violence in Youngstown.
“The individuals indicted last week and arrested this morning are charged with serious offenses representing their willingness to engage in violent acts putting our community at risk,” said Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Northern District of Ohio Office. “As evidenced by this continuing investigation, the FBI will work with our law enforcement partners to target and eliminate the most significant threats to our communities to include violent gang activity.”
The county indictments charged the 12 people with various offenses, including trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in controlled substances, felonious assault, aggravated riot, and participating in a criminal gang. Charged individuals include:
- TAWAUN GORDON
- TYRONE GORDON
- LAYTTON SHEPPARD
- DANIEL BELL
- DEVIN BELL
- JEVON FITZGERALD
- KYREE GRABE
- RODERICK WILSON
- KEITH TILLIS, JR.
- PHILLIP LEMON
- LAYTTON LENOIR
- DERRICK FRANKLIN
“The investigation of these violent groups and their subsequent arrests are only possible because of the tremendous cooperation between local, state, and federal law enforcement,” said Chief Robin Lees, Youngstown Police Department. “This is one of many efforts by area law enforcement to proactively reduce violence in our community.”
The FBI Task Force is composed of law enforcement officers and agents from several area agencies, including Boardman Township, Campbell, Canfield City, Hubbard City, the Mahoning County Sheriff’s Department, Struthers, Youngstown, Youngstown State University, Mahoning County Juvenile Probation, and the FBI. These officers are detailed to the task force from their respective departments. Task Force Officer Jerry Tuscano, from Juvenile Probation, led the effort of the task force to investigate this group.
“The hard work and dedication of the task force officers and agents involved in this investigation has resulted in the dismantlement of a group of individuals actively involved in gang activity,” said Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Martin Desmond of the Mahoning County Prosecutor’s Office, the lead prosecutor in this case. “Thanks to their collaboration, members of the E-BLOCK gang are no longer a threat in our community.”
An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the defendants’ sentences will be determined by the court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendants’ prior criminal records, if any; their role in the offenses; and the characteristics of the violations. In all cases, the sentences will not exceed the statutory maximum and, in most cases, it will be less than the maximum.
Any questions regarding this news release can be directed to SA Vicki D Anderson at the Cleveland Office of the FBI, 216-522-1400 or Vicki.Anderson@ic.fbi.gov, or SSA Todd Werth of the FBI’s Youngstown Resident Agency at 330-507-5870 or Todd.Werth@ic.fbi.gov.