For Immediate Release
Member of Bronx Narcotics Organization Sentenced in Manhattan Federal Court to 45 Years for Murder
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today that CATHERINE MORALES, a member of a drug trafficking organization (the “Organization”) that operated in the Bronx, was sentenced to 45 years in prison for murdering Aisha Morales (no relation) in June 2011. MORALES pled guilty in February 2015 to one count of intentionally killing an individual while engaged in a narcotics conspiracy, before United States District Judge Richard J. Sullivan, who imposed yesterday’s sentence.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Catherine Morales, someone featured on ‘America’s Most Wanted,’ not only sold dangerous and potentially lethal drugs, but also committed a cold-blooded murder in broad daylight on East 163th Street in the Bronx. She has now been sentenced to the lengthy prison term those crimes merit.”
MORALES was initially charged in an Indictment with narcotics trafficking and firearms offenses, and was arrested by federal authorities in August 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she was living in hiding under an assumed name. While MORALES was a fugitive, she was featured on the “America’s Most Wanted” television program. She was subsequently brought to Manhattan federal court in September 2013 to face those charges in the Southern District of New York. In January 2014, she was additionally charged with the murder of Aisha Morales in a superseding Indictment. The leader of the organization, Adony Nina, was later charged with the murder in a superseding Indictment filed in April 2014. Nina and co-defendant Candido Antomattei, another high-ranking member of the Organization, were convicted of narcotics trafficking and firearms charges following a trial in October 2013; Nina was subsequently convicted of participating in the Aisha Morales murder in a trial in May 2015. Thirteen other members of the Organization have pled guilty to various federal narcotics and firearms charges.
According to the publicly filed documents, evidence presented at the trials in this case, and statements made in court throughout the pendency of the case:
From 2008 through 2013, the Organization’s members sold crack cocaine and heroin, among other drugs, primarily in the vicinity of Longwood Avenue, and Beck, Kelly, and Simpson Streets in the Bronx. MORALES was involved primarily in the sale of heroin in the vicinity of Simpson and East 163rd Streets.
During and in relation to MORALES’s participation in the drug trafficking conspiracy, MORALES fatally shot victim Aisha Morales, who was 21 at the time of her death, in the head. The shooting took place in the vicinity of 1018 East 163rd Street, in broad daylight. Prior to the murder, MORALES and other members of the Organization threatened rival drug dealers who were selling drugs in the Organization’s territory. In one instance, MORALES threatened a rival that he needed to “get down or lay down.” The murder was the culmination of the dispute with the rival drug dealers. Aisha Morales was not involved in the drug-dealing activities that led to the dispute.
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In addition to the prison term, MORALES, 30, of the Bronx, New York, was sentenced to five years of supervised release and ordered to pay restitution. Nina is scheduled to be sentenced in January 2016.
Mr. Bharara praised the outstanding investigative work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the New York City Police Department.
The prosecution is being handled by the Office’s Violent and Organized Crime Unit. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher DiMase, Rebecca Mermelstein, Margaret Graham, and Sarah Krissoff are in charge of the prosecution.