Three Members of Dirty Block Atlantic City Gang Admit Roles in Drug Distribution and Money Laundering Conspiracies
TRENTON, NJ—Two Atlantic City, New Jersey, men and a Millville, New Jersey, woman today admitted their roles in a criminal street gang that used threats, intimidation and violence to maintain control of the illegal drug trade in Atlantic City, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Franklin Simms, a/k/a “Fat Boy,” 31, pleaded guilty to a superseding information charging him with one count of conspiring to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute, 100 grams or more of heroin. Rayshell Strong, a/k/a “Big Truck,” 34, pleaded guilty to a superseding information charging him with one count of conspiring to distribute a detectable amount of heroin. Latasha Cherry, a/k/a “Tasha,” 31, pleaded guilty to a superseding information charging her with one count of conspiring to engage in money laundering. All three defendants entered their pleas today before U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson in Trenton federal court.
All three were members of a gang known as “Dirty Block,” a/k/a “Crime Fam,” “188.8.131.52,” or “3.6,” which 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.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Simms and Strong admitted distributing heroin on behalf of one of the gang’s alleged leaders, Tyrone Ellis, a/k/a “Rome,” 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 admitted she conspired with Ellis and others to launder the proceeds by transferring cash onto reloadable prepaid debit cards.
The charges against Ellis are merely allegations, and he is considered innocent unless and until proven guilty.
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.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI’s Newark Division, Atlantic City Resident Agency, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Richard M. Frankel; the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office, under the direction of Prosecutor James P. McClain; the Atlantic City Police Department, under the direction of Chief Henry White; and the South Jersey Safe Streets Violent Incident and Gang (Safe Streets) Task Force, with the investigation leading to today’s sentencing.
He also thanked the N.J. State Police; the Atlantic County Sheriff’s Office; the Northfield Police Department; the Vineland Police Department; the Brigantine Police Department; and the Millville Police Department for their contributions.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Patrick Askin and Justin Danilewitz of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Camden and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Edmund Burgos of the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office.
Simms: Troy A. Archie Esq., Cinnaminson, New Jersey
Strong: J. Michael Farrell Esq., Philadelphia
Cherry: Richard Sparaco Esq., Cherry Hill, New Jersey