Charges upgraded in airplane gun trafficking case
Superseding Indictment Charges Aggravated Enterprise Corruption, Carries Penalty of Up to Life in Prison
Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson and NYPD Commissioner William Bratton on Wednesday announced the filing of a 657-count superseding indictment charging three defendants who allegedly trafficked guns — including flying them to New York from Georgia on commercial flights — with aggravated enterprise corruption, which is the first time that the statute has been used in the entire state and carries a penalty of up to life in prison.
A total of four defendants were previously charged in the case for allegedly conspiring to sell 153 firearms, almost all of which were purchased in Georgia and destined for the streets of Brooklyn. One of those defendants is a former Delta Air Lines employee who allegedly carried backpacks and carry-on baggage full of guns and ammunition on commercial flights from Atlanta to New York on nearly 20 occasions. A second Delta employee, a ramp agent, has been charged in the new indictment with helping to smuggle the weapons on the planes for a fee.
“Upon further investigation and review upgraded charges are appropriate in this case, which exposed a gaping hole in our airport and national security,” said Thompson. “These defendants, due to the very serious nature of the charges, now face life in prison under aggravated enterprise corruption.”
“The subversion of a commercial airline for the purpose of trafficking illegal firearms is an egregious betrayal of the public’s trust,” said Bratton. “These defendants were intercepted through a coordinated investigation on the part of my detectives in the Firearms Investigations Unit, along with our federal and local partners. I commend the work of these investigators, particularly the undercover officers involved, who did not hesitate to go into harm’s way in order to hold these individuals accountable for their alleged criminal acts.”
The DA identified the defendants as Eugene Harvey, 32, of 4635 Greenspring Road, College Park, Georgia; Mark Henry, 46, of 535 East 79th St., Canarsie, Brooklyn, and 1987 Tiffany Lane, Jonesboro, Georgia; Ernest Leneau, 55, of 632 East 94th St., Canarsie, Brooklyn; Adrian Alleyne, 25, of 9029 Farragut Road, Canarsie, Brooklyn; and Grayling Smith, 52, of 1608 Prospect Place, Crown Heights, Brooklyn and 4339 Persian Court, Snellville, Georgia.
Harvey was arraigned on Monday before Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chun and ordered held without bail. Leneau and Smith were arraigned Wednesday before Justice Chun. Leneau was held without bail and Smith was held on $700,000 bond or $350,000 cash bail. Henry and Alleyne, who were previously remanded, will be arraigned next week. All of the defendants were ordered to return to court on Wednesday.
The DA said that the indictment is the result of a long-term investigation conducted by the NYPD and the Brooklyn DA’s Office between May of 2014 and December of 2014, during which time the defendants conspired to sell weapons purchased in Georgia to an NYPD undercover detective in Brooklyn. The weapons ranged from compact AR-15 and AK-47 assault weapons to 9mm handguns to Glock pistols. Approximately 153 guns were recovered during the investigation.
The DA said that the superseding indictment charges a total of five defendants — of the five, four are charged with enterprise corruption (a B felony, punishable by up to 25 years) and three are additionally charged with aggravated enterprise corruption (an A-I felony punishable by up to life in prison). Those three defendants are Henry, Leneau and Harvey, who during the time of the alleged trafficking worked as a Delta ramp agent. He was arrested in Georgia last week and brought to Brooklyn to be arraigned on the charges.
The other four defendants had been previously charged with conspiracy and other charges in December of 2014 and were arraigned on the new indictment Wednesday. The aggravated enterprise corruption statute went into effect in 2013 and this indictment is the first time it is being used in Brooklyn.
The indictment charges that the firearms trafficking enterprise had an ascertainable structure that was distinct from the pattern of criminal activity in that each participant had a specialized role within the enterprise. The enterprise was comprised of buyers, distributors, sellers and security access coordinators, all of whom contributed to the possession and sale of illegal firearms in Brooklyn.
The DA said that according to the investigation, Mark Henry made 17 trips between New York airports and Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia, between May 8, 2014, and Dec. 10, 2014. It is alleged that he purchased most of the guns through a website, www.theoutdoorstrader.com, buying between 10 and 20 guns at a time, picking them up from sellers in and around Atlanta and then flying to New York with them on the plane. Defendant Ernest Leneau then allegedly took the guns and sold them to an undercover detective.
During the course of the investigation it was discovered that Henry, whose mother is a retired Delta employee, traveled back and forth between Georgia and New York for a nominal fee by using his mother’s employee privileges, which allowed him to take unlimited flights for life. Additionally, Henry worked for Delta as a ramp agent between 2007 and 2010.
It is alleged that Harvey transported firearms into Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport via an employee entrance, using his employee access to smuggle firearms obtained for eventual sale in Brooklyn into secure areas of the airport, circumventing Transportation Security Administration (TSA) protocols.
It is alleged that Henry met Harvey at home or outside of the airport and gave him the guns to carry past security. On other occasions, it is alleged that Harvey left his car unlocked so that Henry could leave firearms inside Harvey’s car the night before Henry planned to fly to New York. Harvey would then drive the firearms to the airport, bypass security and give them to Henry at pre-arranged meeting spots inside the airport after Henry had cleared security.
It is further alleged that defendant Alleyne purchased guns from Leneau and sold them to an undercover detective, and that defendant Smith supplied two firearms to Leneau, who later sold them to a different undercover detective.
The defendants are charged in a 657-count indictment with various offenses including aggravated enterprise corruption, an A-I felony punishable by up to life in prison; enterprise corruption, a B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison; conspiracy, manufacture, transport, disposition and defacement of weapons and dangerous instruments and appliances, first-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison; first-degree criminal sale of a firearm, a B felony punishable by up to 25 years in prison; second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, a C felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison; and criminal possession of a firearm, an E felony punishable by up to four years in prison.
-Information from the Brooklyn DA’s Office
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