U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of New York
(212) 637-2600
August 26, 2015

Members and Associates of Violent Mount Vernon Street Gang Known as Boss Playa Family, or BPF, Charged in Federal Court with Racketeering Offenses, Including Two Murders of Rival Gang Members

Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Janet DiFiore, the District Attorney for Westchester County, and Diego Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”), announced today the unsealing of an Indictment charging seven members and associates of a Mount Vernon-based street gang, “Boss Playa Family” or “BPF,” with participation in a racketeering conspiracy and firearms offenses, and charging certain of those BPF members and associates with murder in aid of racketeering and narcotics conspiracy.

Two of the defendants charged in the Indictment were arrested today. ANTOINE LITTLE was arrested in Bedford, Texas, and will be presented today in federal court in Fort Worth, Texas. GORHAM VALENTINE was arrested today in Norwalk, Connecticut and will be presented this afternoon along with RAMSEUR in White Plains federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Lisa Margaret Smith. Four of the seven defendants charged in the Indictment unsealed today, JAMEL UPSON, TYRONE McCALLUM, PORTLAND RAMSEUR, and JASON WHITE, were previously in state custody.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Members of the BPF gang allegedly unleashed a terrifying wave of violence on the streets of Mount Vernon. Over the course of several years, BPF gunfire erupted in and around the gang’s territory with shocking and tragic frequency. On two of those occasions, the defendant Jamel Upson, one of BPF’s leaders, allegedly shot and killed members of a rival gang. The charges brought today serve as a reminder that we and our law enforcement partners are determined to combat the scourge of gang and drug violence in Mount Vernon.”

Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore stated: “The allegations in this indictment describe the frightening and brazen hold these defendants had on neighborhoods in and around the City of Mount Vernon. Over the past several years we have worked tirelessly to pursue members and associates of this gang and now as a result of the collaborative efforts of federal, state and local law authorities these defendants will be held accountable for the crimes they now stand accused of. Our priority is and will continue to be enhancing the safety and quality of life for all of the hard working residents of the City of Mount Vernon.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Diego Rodriguez stated: “As alleged, the Mount Vernon-based street gang ‘Boss Playa Family’ used violence and an array of criminal activities to enhance the gang’s power and protect its territory. It’s gang related activity like this that infects our communities with an illness that kills our neighborhoods’ safety and growth. However, there is an antidote to this that is made of law enforcement working at both the federal and local level to get gangs like this off the street.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment and other documents in the public record:1

The BPF street gang was a criminal enterprise that operated principally in and around the City of Mount Vernon, New York, from at least in or about 2007 up to and including 2014. BPF members and associates sought to enhance the gang’s power, protect and expand its territory, and enrich its members through a wide array of criminal activities, including murder, attempted murder, larceny, arson, and the distribution of cocaine and marijuana. BPF members and associates expressly acknowledged and celebrated their gang affiliation through various means, including by wearing clothing emblazoned with “Boss Playa Family” and “BPF,” and by creating and posting on the Internet rap videos that promoted BPF.

One of BPF’s principal objectives was to maintain and exercise control over its territory, the area of Seventh Avenue and Sandford Boulevard in Mount Vernon. To that end, BPF sought to assert its dominance over rival gangs, particularly the “Goonies,” a gang based in a neighboring area of Mount Vernon. During the time period relevant to the Indictment, BPF members and associates were responsible for numerous acts of violence targeting members of the rival Goonies gang, including multiple murders and many other shootings. In furtherance of such violence, firearms were maintained in stash locations by certain BPF members and associates for shared use by other members and associates of the gang when guns were needed to strike or retaliate against the Goonies.

The violence perpetrated by BPF turned deadly on two occasions in 2008. On or about August 13, 2008, JAMEL UPSON, one of BPF’s lead enforcers or “shooters,” aided and abetted by others known and unknown, murdered Shomari Knox, a member of the Goonies, by shooting Knox in the area of Ninth Avenue and Third Street in Mount Vernon. Several months later, on or about December 14, 2008, UPSON, again aided and abetted by others known and unknown, murdered another member of the Goonies, Cory Cabiness, by shooting him in the vicinity of the Ebony Gardens apartment complex in Mount Vernon. As alleged in the Indictment, UPSON committed these murders in order to maintain and increase his position in the BPF gang.

* * *

Counts One and Two of the Indictment charge all seven defendants, JAMEL UPSON, SHAWN EVANS, ANTOINE LITTLE, TYRONE McCALLUM, PORTLAND RAMSEUR, GORHAM VALENTINE, and JASON WHITE, with a BPF racketeering conspiracy and firearms offenses in connection with that conspiracy. As alleged, various combinations of those defendants committed, among other acts of racketeering, at least eight shootings in furtherance of the BPF conspiracy. Counts Three and Four of the Indictment charge UPSON with murder in aid of racketeering activity and a related firearms offense in connection with the August 2008 murder of Shomari Knox, and Counts Five and Six charge UPSON with murder in aid of racketeering activity and a related firearms offense in connection with the December 2008 murder of Cory Cabiness. Finally, Count Seven of the Indictment charges UPSON, RAMSEUR, and WHITE with conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana in and around BPF territory.

Charts containing the names, ages, residences, charges, and maximum penalties for the defendants are set forth below. The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendants will be determined by the judge.

Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the FBI and the Mount Vernon Police Department. He also thanked the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office for its participation and support in this ongoing investigation.

The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s White Plains Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys George Turner and Daniel Filor are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

1As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Indictment and the description of the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.

United States v. Jamel Upson, et al., 15 Cr. 570

COUNT

CHARGE

DEFENDANTS

MAX. PENALTIES

1

Racketeering conspiracy

18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)

JAMEL UPSON
SHAWN EVANS
ANTOINE LITTLE
TYRONE McCALLUM
PORTLAND RAMSEUR
GORHAM VALENTINE
JASON WHITE

UPSON: Life in prison

Other Defendants: 20 years in prison

2

Using or carrying a firearm during and in relation to, or possessing a firearm in furtherance of, a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime

18 U.S.C. § 924(c)

JAMEL UPSON
SHAWN EVANS
ANTOINE LITTLE
TYRONE McCALLUM
PORTLAND RAMSEUR
GORHAM VALENTINE
JASON WHITE

Life in prison

Mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison

3

Murder in aid of racketeering activity

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1)

JAMEL UPSON

Death penalty, or mandatory life in prison

4

Murder through use of a firearm

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j), 924(c)(1)(A)(iii), 924(c)(1)(C)(i)

JAMEL UPSON

Death penalty, or life in prison

Mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison

5

Murder in aid of racketeering activity

18 U.S.C. § 1959(a)(1)

JAMEL UPSON

Death penalty, or mandatory life in prison

6

Murder through use of a firearm

18 U.S.C. §§ 924(j), 924(c)(1)(A)(iii), 924(c)(1)(C)(i)

JAMEL UPSON

Death penalty, or life in prison

Mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison

7

Narcotics conspiracy

21 U.S.C. §§ 846, 841(b)(1)(C), 841(b)(1)(D)

JAMEL UPSON
PORTLAND RAMSEUR
JASON WHITE

20 years in prison

 

Defendant

Age

Residence

JAMEL UPSON

31

Mount Vernon, NY

SHAWN EVANS

27

Mount Vernon, NY

ANTOINE LITTLE

32

Bedford, TX

TYRONE McCALLUM

28

Mount Vernon, NY

PORTLAND RAMSEUR

30

Mount Vernon, NY

GORHAM VALENTINE

30

Mount Vernon, NY

JASON WHITE

32

Mount Vernon, NY

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