NEW BRUNSWICK — Fifteen alleged gang members and associates were charged today with racketeering and engaging in an on-going turf war that included the fatal shooting of an innocent man in his home nearly a year ago, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce J. Kaplan and Anthony A. Caputo, director of the New Brunswick Police Department, announced.
The 15 defendants were identified during an intensive and continuing investigation into gang-related activity that included numerous instances in which members of three separate sets of the Bloods street gang threatened their adversaries and fired weapons at each other on city streets.
One such shooting resulted in the May 4, 2012 death of Richard Chang, 40, who was struck by a bullet as he sat inside his home at 412 Birch Court in New Brunswick.
‘’Since the moment police were alerted to the shooting, members of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Brunswick Police Department have worked tirelessly to bring those responsible to justice,’’ Kaplan said.
All 15 defendants were charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering for participating in on-going gang activity. Twelve of the defendants also were charged today with conspiring to commit murder in the death of Mr. Chang.
Three of the defendants had been arrested and charged on Nov. 15, 2012 with murder and murder conspiracy and have remained in custody in lieu of bail.
A countywide task force headed by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office and the New Brunswick Police Department began arresting the defendants in their homes at 5 a.m. today.
The defendants are being held on bails ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million.
During the investigation, it was determined that the continuing conduct of the defendants amounted to a racketeering conspiracy. The filing of the racketeering count marks the first time that statute has been used by the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. The charge was filed following a review and approval by the state Office of the Attorney General.
Prosecutor Kaplan said police spent hundreds of hours investigating and preparing for the series of arrests and he thanked the Office of the Attorney General and more than a dozen police agencies that participated.
Among agencies that assisted were the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office, the Edison Police Department, the Sayreville Police Department, the Piscataway Police Department, the North Brunswick Police Department, the Franklin Township Police Department, the Jamesburg Police Department, the Monroe Police Department, the South River Police Department, the Rutgers University Police Department, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Special Operations Response Team (SORT), the Middlesex County Department of Corrections, and the Middlesex County Sheriff’s Department.
The lead investigators in the case were Investigator Craig Marchak, Investigator Jeff Temple, and Sgt. Paul Miller, all of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, and Sgt. Mark Pappas, Detective Ronoldy Martinez, and Detective Brandt Gregus, all of the New Brunswick Police Department.
The three defendants initially charged with murder and murder conspiracy last November and were charged today with the racketeering conspiracy are identified as: Nadrell McMillan, 21, and Quaadir Hagood, 21, both of New Brunswick, and Zaire Franklin Sherman, 21, of Piscataway.
The remaining defendants, all charged with murder conspiracy and racketeering conspiracy, are Chad Butler, 22, Tereak Butler, 18, Maurice Fields, 22, Sidney Williams, 22, Jamil Anthony, 25, Jashire Reid, 20, and Darnell Ricketts, Jr., 21, all of New Brunswick.
Also charged are Devin Gardner, 22, of Piscataway, Dylan Freer, 27, of North Brunswick, Pedro Vickers, 24, of Edison, Taladeen Ross, 28, of Sayreville, and Jamir Hill, 20, of Camden.
The investigation is active and continuing. Authorities are asking anyone with information to call Investigator Temple of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-3373, or Detective Martinez of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5200.
As is the case with all criminal defendants, the defendants charged in this case are presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Connect with NJTODAY.NET
Join NJTODAY.NET's free Email List to receive occasional updates delivered right to your email address!