Violent Grape Street Crips Member Sentenced to Life for Newark Murder, Attempted Murder

A high-ranking member of the New Jersey Grape Street Crips was sentenced today to two concurrent terms of life – plus 35 years – in federal prison for committing a murder, participating in a separate attempted murder, and conspiring to distribute heroin, all as part of a racketeering conspiracy, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced.

Another Grape Street Crips gang member was sentenced to 25 years in prison for a RICO conspiracy that involved shooting at rival gang members and conspiracies to distribute heroin and crack-cocaine. Judge Arleo also sentenced him to 10 years of supervised release.

According to authorities, Tony Phillips, a/k/a “Blue,” 28, was convicted at trial of 10 counts in a sixth superseding indictment, including murder in aid of racketeering, attempted murder in aid of racketeering, RICO conspiracy, using firearms during crimes of violence, and conspiracy to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin.

The jury returned the verdict on the fourth day of deliberations following a two-month trial before U.S. District Judge Madeline Cox Arleo, who imposed the two life sentences, plus 35 years in prison, today in Newark federal court.

According to authorities, Justin Carnegie, a/k/a “Dew Hi,” a/k/a “Dew,” a/k/a “D,” 31, previously pleaded guilty before Judge Arleo in Newark federal court to five counts in the sixth superseding indictment charging him with RICO conspiracy, conspiracy to commit aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to possess a firearm, and separate conspiracies to distribute one kilogram of heroin and 280 grams or more of crack-cocaine. Judge Arleo sentenced Carnegie to 25 years in prison.

Officials say Phillips and Carnegie were charged in November 2016 in a 22-count indictment charging 14 members and associates with, among other things, seven murders, numerous attempted murders, and numerous other violent and drug trafficking crimes committed as part of the racketeering conspiracy. Thirteen of the 14 defendants charged in the indictment have been convicted and one is awaiting trial.

Another 66 members and associates of the Grape Street Crips who were arrested in a coordinated takedown in May 2015 were separately charged with drug trafficking, physical assaults, and witness intimidation, and all have been convicted.

According to the documents filed in this case and other cases and the evidence presented at trial:

In early 2013, the leader of the New Jersey Grape Street Crips authorized Tony Phillips and other gang members to murder Tariq Johnson because Johnson had grown too close to Almalik Anderson, one of the gang’s chief rivals. Acting on these orders, on May 3, 2013, Phillips and another gang member shot Tariq Johnson multiple times in the head, while the Johnson sat in front of them inside a car. Phillips and his conspirators then dumped Johnson’s body on a deserted street in Newark.

Officials say on Oct. 27, 2013, again acting on their gang leader’s orders, Phillips and three other gang members repeatedly shot and nearly killed Almalik Anderson and Saidah Goines, a bystander who was inside Anderson’s car.

In addition to orchestrating these acts of violence, Phillips conspired with other gang members to distribute one kilogram or more of heroin.

Authorities say Carnegie admitted that on Oct. 7, 2013, he and other gang members sought to avenge the murder of a fellow gang member who had recently been killed by rivals. Carnegie and his fellow gang members travelled to the area of Avon Avenue in Newark, where one of them fired 14 rounds in an attempt to shoot members of the rival gang. After returning to their staging area after the shooting, Carnegie and others fled law enforcement officers, who attempted to arrest them and their fellow gang members.

Carnegie and other gang members frequently used social media to promote the gang’s reputation for violence and drug trafficking. For example, Carnegie has the phrase “187 on all rats” tattooed on his back, a phrase meaning that cooperating witnesses ought to be murdered (“187” is the California penal code section that defines the crime of murder). Carnegie also has bragged in a rap song, “Fuck the Feds, they ain’t stoppin’ me.”

Carnegie frequently carried and stockpiled firearms in furtherance of the gang’s activities. In May 2010, Carnegie stored a loaded Romarm SA Cugir 7.62x39 assault rifle and an American Industries Calico M100 .22LR carbine, along with ammunition for both weapons, in Orange, New Jersey.

This case was conducted under the auspices of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force and the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply.