ATF

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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

For Immediate Release

November 12, 2010

Melinda Haag, United States Attorney

Contact: Jack Gillund
(415) 436-6599
Jack.Gillund@usdoj.gov

Gunshots Fired at East Palo Alto Police Officer Lead to Guilty Pleas, Sentencing in Federal Court

Defendants Admit to Drug Charges and Conspiracy to Retaliate Against and Tamper With Witnesses, Harboring a Fugitive and Perjury Before the Grand Jury

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Maurice Deshawn Hodge pleaded guilty on November 10, 2010, before District Court Judge James Ware to Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base and Conspiracy to Retaliate Against a Witness, and sentenced to 10 years in custody, to be followed by a 5 year period of supervised release, United States Attorney Melinda Haag announced this afternoon. The federal prison term was ordered to run consecutively to a 16-year state sentence Hodge is already serving for armed robbery and drug trafficking. The charges involve a gun that was used to fire on a uniformed East Palo Alto police officer on September 18, 2005.

Hodge was indicted on September 15, 2010 and charged with Possession with Intent to Distribute Cocaine Base, in violation of 21 U.S.C. § 841(a)(1) and Possession of a Firearm During a Drug Trafficking Crime, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A). He was also charged, along with co-defendants Lavar Reid, Homer Harris, and Floyd Jackson, with Conspiracy Tamper With Witness, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1512(k) 1512(a)(2)(C), 1512(b)(3); and Conspiracy to Retaliate Against a Witness, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§1513(f), 1513(b)(2),1513(e).

According to the plea agreement of a defendant in a related case, on September 18, 2005, an East Palo Alto police officer, who was in full uniform driving a marked police vehicle, attempted to make a traffic stop. The suspects refused to yield and instead drove away at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. During the chase, occupants of the fleeing vehicle, owned by Hodge, fired multiple gunshots at the pursuing police vehicle. The shots were fired from two firearms, a 9mm and a .40 caliber, hitting the police car twice. Fortunately, the officer was uninjured.

According to Hodge’s plea agreement, he was arrested a week later in a motel room in Sunnyvale. At the time of his arrest, Hodge possessed crack cocaine and a .40 caliber pistol that was one of two firearms used in the police shooting. Hodge also admitted in the plea agreement that he conspired with co-defendants Lavar Reid, Jr., Floyd Jackson, and Homer Harris, to retaliate against a person whom he believed had informed the police of his whereabouts. As the Assistant United States Attorney handling the case advised the court at the hearing, Hodge and his co-defendants are all members or associates of the G-Town and Taliban street gangs, which according to East Palo Alto police department gang experts, are affiliated.

Additionally on October 6, 2010, Lavar Reid, Jr., pleaded guilty to conspiring with Hodge to tamper with a witness in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(k), 1512(a)(2)(C), and 1512(b)(3). Reid is next scheduled to appear before U.S. District Court Judge James Ware at 1:30 p.m. on December 20, 2010 for sentencing. The parties have agreed, subject to the approval of the court, to a sentence of 2 years in custody, to be followed by a 3 year period of supervised release. Any sentence will be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

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In a related case, Jamaine Barnes previously pleaded guilty on November 23, 2009, and June 18, 2010, before Judge Ware to Perjury and Harboring a Fugitive. Those charges, according to Barnes’ admissions in court, were based on his efforts to hide Hodge by allowing him to use a motel room that Barnes had fraudulently obtained, and also lying to the grand jury about his relationship with Hodge. Barnes was sentenced by Judge Ware in two separate proceedings to a total of 37 months imprisonment. Barnes was also convicted in state court of defrauding the American Red Cross by obtaining the motel rooms fraudulently by posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim.

Homer Harris remains a fugitive, charged with Conspiring with Hodge and others to Tamper With a Witness in violation of 18 U.S.C. §1512(k), 1512(a)(2)(C), and 1512(b)(3) and to Retaliate Against a Witness in violation of 18 U.S.C. §18 USC §1513(f). Any persons having knowledge of Harris’s whereabouts are asked to contact East Palo Alto Detective Angel Sanchez at 650-464-6837 or Sgt. Jeff Liu 650-353-8506.

Floyd Jackson was murdered in January, 2010. His body was found on the shoulder of Interstate 580 in Richmond, California. According to the East Palo Alto Police Department and the San Mateo District Attorney’s Office, the attempted murder case concerning the East Palo Alto officer remains an open and continuing investigation.

Thomas O‘Connell and Daniel Kaleba are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Nina Williams and Tracey Anderson. The prosecution is the result of a continuing joint investigation by the United States Attorneys Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the East Palo Alto Police Department and the Menlo Park Police Department.

Further Information:

Case #: CR-10-00320-JW

A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.justice.gov/usao/can.

Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.

Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s website at www.cand.uscourts.gov.

All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Jack Gillund at (415) 436-6599 or by e-mail at Jack.Gillund@usdoj.gov.

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