Three Involved in the Kidnapping and Murder of Atlantic City Woman Plead Guilty
|U.S. Attorney’s Office July 18, 2013|
CAMDEN, NJ—Three Atlantic City, New Jersey residents today admitted their roles in the kidnapping and death of a 20-year-old Atlantic City woman, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Shameria Smith, 26; Aziz Sanders, 20; and Deshawn Hicks, 21, each pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Joseph H. Rodriguez to separate, one-count informations charging them with use of a firearm and aiding and abetting the use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence—specifically, the Hobbs Act robbery and kidnapping that resulted in the death of Nadirah Ruffin.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
On March 23, 2011, D.H. met with Isiah Ruffin (no relation to the victim) in the courtyard area of a housing complex on North Maryland Avenue, a section of Atlantic City known as “Back Maryland,” to talk to Isiah Ruffin about a dispute between Isiah Ruffin and Victim One. After a brief conversation, D.H. viciously assaulted Isiah Ruffin, knocking Isiah Ruffin unconscious and robbing him of cash. When Isiah Ruffin regained consciousness, D.H. assaulted Isiah Ruffin again. As a result of the assault, Isiah Ruffin was treated at the Atlantic City Medical Center for a possible concussion and facial lacerations. After Isiah Ruffin was released from the hospital, Smith and Sanders visited Isiah Ruffin, during which time Isiah Ruffin told Smith that D.H. had assaulted him.
To retaliate, Smith planned to enter Victim One’s house and assault and rob Victim One of illegal drugs and money. Sanders agreed to help Smith execute her plan and recruited Hicks to participate. Smith supplied the gun, duct-tape, and handcuffs.
On March 26, 2011, Smith, Sanders, and Hicks entered Victim One’s house and duct-taped Victim One and four other victims, including Nadirah Ruffin, who were present. While in the house, Sanders and Hicks took money from Victim One, some of which Victim One had earned from selling illegal drugs. They took money from another victim, as well as marijuana that the victim was planning to sell. Sanders and Hicks admitted to taking more than $500 and 50 bags of marijuana from the house.
During the robbery, Nadirah Ruffin recognized Smith’s voice. Smith ordered Sanders to punch Nadirah Ruffin. After Sanders hit Nadirah Ruffin, Smith punched her because she did not think Sanders had hit her hard enough. As the three defendants were leaving the residence, Smith told Sanders and Hicks to take Nadirah Ruffin from the residence. Smith, Sanders, and Hicks then placed Nadirah Ruffin into a green van. They drove to the Clementon area and eventually to Philadelphia. Smith said that because she was a mother she could not kill Nadirah Ruffin. Smith placed the gun near Sanders and told him that they were not leaving until someone else killed Nadirah Ruffin. Sanders and Hicks took Nadirah Ruffin to the banks of the Schuylkill River, where Sanders shot her in the head, killing her. Her body was dumped in the river.
The charges to which Smith, Sander and Hicks pleaded guilty carry a maximum potential penalty of life imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. Sentencing for Smith and Sanders is scheduled for October 22, 2013, and Hicks is scheduled for October 23, 2013.
Henry Ruffin and Ronnie Ruffin (no relation to Nadirah Ruffin) both pleaded guilty to failing to tell FBI special agents who interviewed them that they know Smith, Sanders, and Hicks were involved in the home invasion and kidnapping. Henry Ruffin is scheduled to be sentenced September 17, 2013, and Ronnie Ruffin is scheduled to be sentenced September 19, 2013.
On April 3, 2012, Isiah Ruffin, pleaded guilty to providing false statements to investigators about the home invasion and kidnapping. He is scheduled to be sentenced October 23, 2013.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Aaron T. Ford; the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office; and the Atlantic City Police Department for the investigation leading to the guilty pleas.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jason M. Richardson and Matthew T. Smith of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Criminal Division in Camden, assisted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Feder of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Appeals Division in Newark, and Mark Coyne, Chief of the Appeals Division.