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Four members of the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods street gang plead guilt

August 27, 2013 press release

TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced that four members of the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods street gang pleaded guilty to racketeering, admitting they participated in a murder in Vineland in 2006. The four men were charged in “Operation Nine Connect,” a joint investigation by the New Jersey State Police and the Division of Criminal Justice.

The following four defendants each pleaded guilty late Friday afternoon, Aug. 23, to first-degree racketeering before Superior Court Judge Darrell M. Fineman in Cumberland County:

  1. Almeen Palmer, 36, of Atlantic City. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to 15 years in state prison.
  2. Steven Armstead, 33, of Millville. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to 12 years in state prison.
  3. Quason Blake, 25, of Atlantic City. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to 12 years in state prison.
  4. Kelsey Smith, 26, of Atlantic City. The state will recommend that he be sentenced to 10 years in state prison.

In pleading guilty, all of the defendants admitted that they were members of the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods street gang. All of them also admitted that they participated in the murder of Leroy Lindsay as members of the gang. Lindsay, 23, was shot in the chest on January 23, 2006 in an apartment on South 7th Street in Vineland. Each defendant admitted that he participated in an attempt to “discipline” Lindsay for disrespecting another member of the Nine Trey Gangsters, and that the resulting altercation led to Lindsay being shot and killed.

Deputy Attorneys General Andrew B. Johns and Andrew Taff took the guilty pleas for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 11 by Superior Court Judge Robert Malestein.

“The murder of Leroy Lindsey, who was gunned down for disrespecting a member of the Nine Trey Gangsters, is typical of the senseless violence that was perpetrated by this set of the Bloods street gang in New Jersey,” said Acting Attorney General Hoffman. “As a result of Operation Nine Connect, we have sent over 40 members of this violent gang to state prison for lengthy sentences.”

“We will continue to partner with the New Jersey State Police and other agencies in wide-ranging investigations targeting the leadership and the most violent members of the criminal syndicates that are terrorizing many of our communities,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Through Operation Nine Connect, we have dismantled a vicious criminal syndicate.”

A total of 48 defendants were indicted in June 2007 as a result of Operation Nine Connect. The Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau now has secured guilty pleas or trial convictions for all of the defendants named in the indictment. One leader of the gang, Michael Smart, 31, of Irvington, was tried in January 2009, convicted and sentenced to 70 years in state prison, including 46 years of parole ineligibility. The other defendants received or face sentences ranging from five to 16 years in state prison.

The Division of Criminal Justice and the New Jersey State Police were assisted in Operation Nine Connect by the Newark Police Department, the Irvington Police Department, the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office, the Atlantic City Police Department and the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office. The Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office initially handled the Lindsey homicide and provided extensive assistance to the Division of Criminal Justice.

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