Philadelphia Business Owner and Associate Charged in Murder-for-Hire Plot That Involved Atlantic City Shooting
CAMDEN, NJ—Two Philadelphia men are scheduled to appear in court today on charges of conspiracy, murder-for-hire, and aiding and abetting the use of a firearm related to a shooting in Atlantic City, New Jersey, last year, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Ronald Galati, 63, and Jerome Johnson, 45, will have their initial court appearances before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez in Camden federal court. They were each charged in an indictment—returned by a federal grand jury on April 2, 2014, and unsealed today—with conspiring with Ronald Walker, 48, of Philadelphia, and Alvin Matthews, 46, of Brookhaven, Pennsylvania; to shoot and kill an individual in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on November 30, 2013. Johnson was also charged with transporting a firearm for use during the commission of a felony, transferring a firearm for use in a crime of violence, and being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Galati owned and operated American Collision & Automotive Center (American Collision) in Philadelphia. At various times, Johnson has worked there for Galati. Prior to June 2013, Galati allegedly began saying he was going to kill a person identified as “Victim One.” In June 2013, Galati, members of Galati’s family, and associates of Galati had dinner with Victim One at a restaurant in Northfield, New Jersey. During dinner, Galati took Victim One into the kitchen and threatened to kill him.
Galati and Johnson allegedly approached Walker and Matthews and asked them to kill Victim One in a way that would not implicate Galati. Galati promised to pay Walker and Matthews to shoot and kill Victim One.
Galati provided Walker and Matthews with several addresses associated with Victim One, including an address in the vicinity of Broad and Snyder streets in Philadelphia. In November 2013, in an attempt to find and kill Victim One, Johnson took Walker and another individual to Victim One’s home in Philadelphia. Finding the home empty, the other individual broke into Victim One’s home and vandalized it while Walker waited outside.
On November 29, 2013, Johnson gave Matthews a Colt .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun. The next day, Johnson telephoned Walker and Matthews and arranged to meet them. At some point Galati called Johnson and told him that Victim One was in New Jersey. Johnson drove Walker and Matthews to Atlantic City and told them if there was a woman with Victim One, she was not to be harmed. While in Johnson’s vehicle, Matthews gave Walker the handgun he received from Johnson the day before. Johnson then dropped Walker and Matthews off around the corner from Victim One’s home.
When Victim One and a woman came out of a house, Walker and Matthews approached them, and Walker shot Victim One with the Colt .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun, striking Victim One multiple times. The victim survived the shooting.
The count of conspiracy to commit murder for hire (count one) and the murder-for-hire count (count three) each carry a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The count of conspiracy to possess and use a firearm during a crime of violence (count two) carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The count of aiding and abetting the possession and use of firearm during a crime of violence (count four) carries a mandatory minimum consecutive prison sentence of 10 years and maximum of life and a $250,000 fine.
The additional counts with which Johnson is charged, knowingly transporting a firearm for use during the commission of a felony (count five), knowingly transferring a firearm for use in a crime of violence (count six), and being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm (count seven), each carry a maximum potential penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
On March 17, 2014, Matthews and Walker pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez to a three-count information charging them with conspiracy to use interstate commerce facilities in the commission of a murder for hire; use of a firearm, and aiding and abetting the use of a firearm, in furtherance of a crime of violence; and with being a previously convicted felon in possession of a firearm. Matthews’ and Walker’s sentencings are schedule for June 30, 2014.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; special agents of the ATF, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Robin Shoemaker; and detectives of the Atlantic City Police Department, under the direction of Chief Henry White, for the investigation the case. He also thanked the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney R. Seth Williams; detectives of the Philadelphia Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Charles Ramsey; and troopers of the Pennsylvania State Police, under the direction of Commissioner Frank Noonan, for their assistance.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason M. Richardson and Matthew T. Smith of the U.S. Attorney’ Office Criminal Division in Camden.