The Chicago Syndicate: Folk Nation Gang Member Sentenced to Five Consecutive Terms of Life Imprisonment

Rodd & Gunn US

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Folk Nation Gang Member Sentenced to Five Consecutive Terms of Life Imprisonment

Jamal Laurent, a member of a set of the violent street gang Folk Nation operating primarily in the Crown Heights and East Flatbush neighborhoods of Brooklyn, was sentenced to five consecutive terms of life imprisonment at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, New York. Last week, on November 6, 2015, one of Laurent’s co-defendants, Trevelle Merritt, was sentenced to 40 years of imprisonment. On March 18, 2015, both defendants, along with a third defendant, Yasser Ashburn, were convicted, following a jury trial, of racketeering and racketeering conspiracy, including as racketeering acts the murders of Courtney Robinson, Brent Duncan, and Dasta James, and related crimes. Ashburn is scheduled to be sentenced on January 8, 2016, and faces a mandatory term of life imprisonment.

The sentence was announced by Robert L. Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Diego G. Rodriguez, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), New York Field Office; and William J. Bratton, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD).

“The defendants committed a string of shootings, robberies, and other senseless acts of violence that for years terrorized the law-abiding members of their community,” stated United States Attorney Capers. “We hope that the sentences imposed give a measure of comfort and closure to the victims and their families, and serve as a warning and deterrent to those who would continue to commit crimes in the name of this violent gang.” Mr. Capers expressed his grateful appreciation to the FBI and the NYPD, the agencies that led the government’s investigation.

From approximately 2007 until their arrests, the defendants, all members of the Folk Nation gang, were responsible for numerous acts of gang-related violence, including homicides, non-fatal shootings, and robberies in and around Crown Heights and East Flatbush, as well as elsewhere in the tri-state area.

During the course of the summer of 2010, Laurent committed seven armed robberies and three shootings. On June 19, 2010, Laurent shot and killed 18-year-old Brent Duncan while Duncan sat in his car outside a party in Brooklyn. Laurent subsequently told a friend that he shot Duncan because Duncan was a member of the rival Crips gang, but no evidence ever established that Duncan belonged to, or was even associated with, that gang.

On July 7, 2010, the same day that Laurent robbed three individuals at gunpoint, Laurent also attempted to murder Louis Ivies, who Laurent believed to be a member of the Crips. After greeting Ivies on the street, Laurent removed a gun from his waistband and fired at him eight times, hitting him five times. Ivies was seriously injured but ultimately survived.

During a three-week period in January 2011, Merritt and fellow gang members participated in a robbery spree that culminated in murder. In the first two robberies, Merritt and others robbed two residents of the Ebbets Field Houses of their cell phones. On January 28, 2011, Merritt, Laurent, and another man attempted to rob Dasta James at his residence on McKeever Place in Brooklyn. During the course of the robbery, James was shot in the back and head. He was taken to Kings County Hospital, where he died.

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