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Coney Island gang member gets two life sentences plus 20 years

September 29, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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On Monday, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, United States District Judge Frederic Block sentenced Frank Smith, also known as “Fresh,” a leader of the Coney Island-based gang Rival Impact, to two mandatory life sentences plus an additional 20 years’ imprisonment for the murder of rival gang members Terrance Serrano and Rashawn Washington. 

The charges included racketeering, predicate acts of murder conspiracy and narcotics offenses, two counts of murder-in-aid-of racketeering and two counts of causing a death through the use of a firearm.

Between January 2000 and January 2014, Smith was a member—ultimately rising to become one of the leaders—of the Rival Impact street gang, a criminal enterprise based in the Mermaid Houses in Coney Island. 

For more than a decade, Smith and other members of Rival Impact distributed heroin, crack and other narcotics in New York and several other states. Smith and other Rival Impact members also engaged in multiple acts of violence in connection with their drug trafficking, including murders, attempted murders, armed robberies and assaults, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York. 

U.S. District Judge Frederic Block, EDNY. Eagle file photo by Rob Abruzzese

By the late 2000s, Rival Impact was engaged in a war with members of Thirty-O, a rival street gang based around the Coney Island Houses. After a high-ranking Rival Impact member was slain, purportedly by Thirty-O crew members, Smith and other members of Rival Impact plotted retaliatory murders of Thirty-O members, including Serrano and Washington, who Smith and his gang believed were responsible for the killing of their Rival Impact member.

On October 4, 2010, after learning that Serrano and Washington were at a nightclub near Union Square in Manhattan, Smith and another Rival Impact member drove from Coney Island to Manhattan, where they laid in wait to ambush Serrano and Washington. Once Serrano and Washington entered their car, Smith and his co-conspirator opened fire, killing both men, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

Smith was convicted by a jury in June 2018 following a three-week trial. 

Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Jacquelyn Kasulis.
Photo courtesy of U.S. Justice Dept.

Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Michael J. Driscoll, assistant director-in-charge, FBI New York Field Office; and Dermot F. Shea, commissioner, NYPD, announced the sentence. 

“Today’s sentence brings a measure of justice to the families of the victims of these calculated murders and holds Frank Smith accountable not only for the lives he snuffed out, but also for the devastation he and the other members of his street gang caused for years in Coney Island and elsewhere with their drug trafficking and senseless violence,” said Acting United States Attorney Kasulis. 

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. As part of the program, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices work in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and their local communities to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime. 

The government’s case was handled by the Office’s Organized Crime & Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Maria Cruz Melendez, Jennifer M. Sasso and Josh Hafetz were in charge of the prosecution.

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