Defendants Admit to Three San Francisco Murders, Various Acts of Violence, and Narcotics Offenses
SAN FRANCISCO – LAWFUEL – Law News, Law Jobs Network – U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan announced that eight members of the Down Below Gang (DBG) – a violent street gang based in the Sunnydale Public Housing Project in San Francisco’s Visitacion Valley neighborhood – pleaded guilty today to racketeering conspiracy charges and conspiracy to distribute controlled substances. Four of the defendants pleaded guilty to violent acts as part of a conspiracy to participate in a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO). The defendants admitted to various acts of violence including murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder, robbery, car-jacking, as well as substantive narcotic crimes. This prosecution was the result of a joint investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the San Francisco Police Department.
U.S. Attorney Kevin V. Ryan stated, “In their plea agreements, several defendants admitted to significant acts of violence, including three murders. We continue to be committed to bringing peace and justice to communities that have been devastated by gang violence. These guilty pleas mark a significant step in the resolution of this prosecution. I thank the FBI and San Francisco Police Department for their teamwork in bringing this prosecution.”
The four defendants who pleaded guilty to violent crimes as part of a RICO conspiracy (18 U.S.C. § 1962(d)) have agreed to the following sentences in their plea agreements:
Don Johnson, age 20: 23 years in federal prison
Robert Calloway, age 22: 17.5 years in federal prison
Dornell Ellis, age 25: 15 years and 8 months in federal prison
Rickey Rollins, age 21: 15 years in federal prison
As part of the plea agreements, individual defendants above admitted responsibility for three murders: 1) the April 15, 2004, slaying of Beverly Daryl Robinson; 2) the June 25, 2004, slaying of Kenya Taylor; and 3) the October 14, 2004, slaying of Jacquain Williams. All victims were residents of San Francisco at the time of their death. These defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on February 28, 2007, at 8 a.m. before U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup.
San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong stated, “These guilty pleas are the result of a collaborative effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, and the San Francisco Police Department. A violent criminal street gang has been removed from the streets of San Francisco. This case represents a historic chapter in San Francisco’s commitment to ending gang and gun violence.”
The four defendants who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances (21 U.S.C. § 846) have agreed to the following sentences in their plea agreements:
Christopher Byes, age 26: 77 months in federal prison
Paris Ragland, age 21: 70 months in federal prison
Ronnie Calloway, age 26: 70 months in federal prison
Allen Calloway, age 24: 21 months in federal prison
In all, the four defendants above admitted to possessing a total of six handguns and an assault rifle in connection with the conspiracy to distribute narcotics. These defendants are scheduled to be sentenced on March 7, 2007, at 8 a.m. before District Court Judge William Alsup.
Various defendants admitted to the following information regarding to the Down Below Gang:
The Down Below Gang, also referred to as “Down the Hill”, “Swamp Boys”, “Sunnydale”, and “3-2-4″, is a criminal street gang that operates in the Sunnydale Housing Projects located in the Visitacion Valley of San Francisco. DBG engaged in the sale and distribution of cocaine base and procuring and using firearms. DBG exercised control over the portion of the Sunnydale Housing Projects that they deemed their “territory.” DBG reinforced its power through violence and intimidation and obtained finances for its members (both incarcerated and those on the streets) through an array of criminal activities, including but not limited to, drug trafficking and armed robbery.
DBG utilized a multi-tiered, loosely organized hierarchy. The gang was led by older members who were the individuals who authorized acts of violence against other DBG members. Only the leaders could authorize acts of murder against DBG members; these were known as “green lights.” The second level of membership were those gang members who carried out the orders of the leaders, committed acts of violence, and enforced discipline within DBG. These members also made some decisions of their own. These members were often called “enforcers” or “shooters.” Lower level gang members were often called “hustlers” or “gofers” and followed the orders of the higher ranking members of the gang. The lowest level gang members were often the youngest members whose roles included engaging in narcotics activity and possessing firearms.
DBG members could move up in the ranks of the gang by various means including but not limited to the commission of various acts of violence and other criminal activity committed at the direction of more senior members of the gang. These acts included, but were not limited to, murder, attempted murder, assault, robbery, and obstruction of justice.
DBG members showed their gang membership in several ways: (1) the adoption of monikers; (2) the use of call signs and hand signals to identify gang members (e.g., the defendants configured their fingers into the signal to represent 3-2-4, which represents the numbers on the telephone keypad that correspond to the letters “DBG”); (3) use of graffiti to identify and define their territory or “turf”; and (4) the use of tattoos that displayed allegiance to the gang or that displayed respect to a “fallen” or murdered gang member.
To instill discipline and compliance among its membership, DBG required its members to follow certain basic rules and certain orders issued by senior members of the gang. For example, DBG gang members were required to (1) never speak with law enforcement about any crime, whether it be a crime committed by them, or a crime committed against them (the “Code”); (2) pool their money and donate it to assist gang members who were incarcerated make bail, purchase items from the commissary, or make phone calls; (3) share the firearms owned by members of DBG with other members of the gang for use in the protection of the gang’s territory and the commission of crimes; and (4) ensure that potential witnesses did not cooperate with law enforcement by and through the use of intimidation and violence to the potential witnesses and their families.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Cutler and Philip Kearney from the United States Attorney’s Office Organized Crime Strike Force Unit, and Krista Tongring from the Department of Justice Organized Crime and Racketeering Section prosecuted the case. Shane Verplanck, Kim Hopkins and Mae Chu assisted in the prosecution. The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office provided important assistance to the prosecution. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department also contributed to the investigation and prosecution.
Case #: CR 05-00167 WHA
A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at www.usdoj.gov/usao/can.
Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s website at www.cand.uscourts.gov.
All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Luke Macaulay at (415) 436-6757 or by email at [email protected]