For Immediate Release
2 New Haven Men Who Committed Gang-Related Murders Sentenced to Long Prison Terms
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that two members of a violent New Haven street gang were sentenced today in New Haven federal court for committing gang-related murders and other criminal activity. Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall sentenced JEFFREY BENTON, also known as “Tall Man,” “Fresh,” and “JT,” 32, to 40 years of imprisonment and ROBERT SHORT, also known as “Santana,” 30, to 30 years of imprisonment.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in January 2014, ATF and the New Haven Police Department began “Operation Red Side” through a series of controlled narcotics purchases and firearms seizures. The investigation revealed that members and associates of the Red Side Guerilla Brims (“RSGB”), a sect of the Bloods street gang based in New Haven, were engaged in narcotics trafficking and related acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, assaults and armed robberies. In addition to distributing crack cocaine and other narcotics in and around New Haven, the investigation indicated that members and associates of the RSGB, under the direction of BENTON and others, transported the drugs to Bangor, Maine, and sold them in Bangor and its surrounding communities. The RSGB also traded narcotics for firearms, brought the firearms back to New Haven and distributed them to gang members.
On March 17, 2017, BENTON pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity, one count of money laundering and one count of conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack”). In pleading guilty, he admitted his involvement in several acts of gang-related violence in New Haven, including the non-fatal shooting of an individual on February 23, 2011; the murder of Kevin Lee on April 20, 2011; the murder of Donnell Allick on June 24, 2011; the murder of Darrick Cooper on September 19, 2011, and the murder of Donald Bolden on March 19, 2012. He also admitted his participation in the gang-related trafficking of crack cocaine in Connecticut and Maine, and the transferring drug proceeds from Maine to Connecticut by using Western Union.
On March 21, 2017, SHORT pleaded guilty to one count of causing a death through the use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. SHORT admitted that he was ordered by BENTON and other RSGB leaders to murder Darrick Cooper, who was a leader of a rival gang and seen as a threat. On September 19, 2011, SHORT lured Cooper to a location in Hamden and shot Cooper in the back of the head as Cooper walked up a staircase.
As a result of this investigation, 21 members and associates of the RSGB were convicted of federal charges in Connecticut and Maine. The investigation has resolved seven murder cases, four attempted murders and four armed robberies that occurred in 2011 and 2012.
“The Red Side Guerilla Brims, under the violent and brutal leadership of Jeffrey Benton, terrorized neighborhoods in New Haven in 2011 and 2012,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “Benton and his RSGB cohorts, including Robert Short, were responsible for at least seven murders, multiple attempted murders, armed robberies, and drug and gun running between Connecticut and Maine. We hope that the lengthy prison terms imposed today bring a measure of solace to the families of the victims and the communities where these violent acts occurred. I thank our law enforcement partners, notably the ATF, New Haven Police Department and Hamden Police Department, for their tireless dedication to the cause of justice during this investigation, which has made New Haven a safer and more secure place to live. I also thank our counterparts in the Maine U.S. Attorney’s Office for their coordination in prosecuting a total of 21 individuals in this matter.”
“ATF’s primary mission is to combat violent gun crime committed by criminal organizations or individuals.” said Mickey Leadingham, Special Agent in Charge, ATF Boston Field Division. “Today’s sentencing is also another example of the importance of law enforcement partnerships and their effectiveness in protecting the citizens in our communities.”
BENTON has been in federal custody since May 17, 2012, and is currently serving a 108-month sentence for distributing heroin. Chief Judge Hall ordered BENTON to begin serving the 40-year sentence after he completes his previous sentence.
SHORT has been detained since September 20, 2011, when he was arrested on a state offense. Chief Judge Hall ordered that SHORT not receive federal credit for time served on his state sentence, which concluded in July 2017.
U.S. Attorney Daly noted that federal prisoners are required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentenced term of imprisonment and are not eligible for parole.
This investigation has been conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the New Haven Police Department, the Connecticut Department of Correction, the Connecticut State Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Hamden Police Department. The New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office also provided critical assistance in the investigation.
An instrumental component of the investigation has been the work of the Connecticut State Crime Laboratory in utilizing the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to analyze ballistics evidence.
This matter is being prosecuted in the District of Connecticut by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Robert Spector, Peter Markle and Jocelyn Kaoutzanis. A related case in the District of Maine is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey.