For Immediate Release
Friday, March 17, 2017
, United States Attorney
Deirdre M. Daly
Contact: Tom Carson, Public Information Office
Gang Leader Pleads Guilty to Racketeering, Money Laundering & Drug Charges; Admits Role in 4 Murders
Field Division: Boston Field Division
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that JEFFREY BENTON, also known as “Tall Man” and “Fresh,” 32, of New Haven, pleaded guilty today in New Haven federal court to federal racketeering, drug trafficking and money laundering offenses, and admitted that he participated in four gang-related murders and one attempted murder.
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 crack cocaine and heroin to Bangor, Maine, and sold the drugs 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.
BENTON was a leader of RSGB. 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.
BENTON 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.
“Jeffrey Benton was the leader of the Red Side Guerilla Brims, a savage and ruthless narcotics gang that terrorized New Haven in 2011 and 2012,” said U.S. Attorney Daly. “Benton and his RSGB gang members not only trafficked in crack cocaine and firearms from Connecticut to Maine, but far worse they were responsible for multiple homicides. Benton ordered three homicides and killed Donnell Allick himself. We hope that his guilty plea today brings some small degree of solace to the victims’ families. This has been a difficult and demanding prosecution. I thank our law enforcement partners, particularly the ATF, New Haven Police Department and Hamden Police Department, for their excellent work in bringing justice to the many victims of this brutal gang, and for making New Haven a safer place to live.”
BENTON pleaded guilty to one count of engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity, which, because it involves the commission of murder, carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. He also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years, and one count of conspiracy to distribute 280 grams or more of cocaine base (“crack cocaine”), which carries a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of 10 years and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
BENTON is scheduled to sentenced by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall on June 27, 2017.
If the binding plea agreement filed today is accepted by Chief Judge Hall, BENTON faces a sentence of between 360 months and 480 months of imprisonment. The government will argue in support of sentence of 480 months – or 40 years – of imprisonment.
BENTON has been in federal custody since May 17, 2012.
This investigation is being 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.