DISTRICT ATTORNEY SINI ANNOUNCES MAJOR GANG INITIATIVE: LAUNCH OF NEW GANG UNIT & INCREASED COLLABORATION BETWEEN REGIONAL LAW ENFORCEMENT
New Gang Unit Comprises Team of Attorneys and Investigators Dedicated to Prosecuting All Crimes Committed by Gang Members in Suffolk County
Unit Will Employ Multipronged Strategy with Focus on Collaboration between Local, State and Federal Law Enforcement Partners to Target and Eradicate Violent Street Gangs like MS-13
(HAUPPAUGE, N.Y.) – Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini today announced the formation of a Gang Unit within the District Attorney’s Office’s new Enhanced Prosecution Bureau that will focus exclusively on investigating and prosecuting crimes committed by gang members, such as members of MS-13.
“The new unit will be laser-focused on prosecuting gang members, partnering with every single law enforcement agency on Long Island and helping to lead the fight against MS-13 and other violent street gangs here in Suffolk County,” District Attorney Sini said.
The Gang Unit is under the leadership of Acting Deputy Bureau Chief Kate Wagner and comprises eight Assistant District Attorneys (ADAs), including Acting Deputy Bureau Chief Leslie Anderson who assisted in the formation of the unit. Anderson will ensure that assigned ADAs are up to date on the latest gang prosecution strategies, and will be focused on coordinating the office’s community outreach and gang prevention efforts. The Unit is overseen by Investigations Division Chief Megan O’Donnell and Enhanced Prosecution Bureau Chief Christiana McSloy. One ADA will be on-call 24 hours a day on a rotating weekly basis to assist and support law enforcement officers on arrests of gang members or investigations of gang-related criminal activity. At least one ADA assigned to the Unit will be bilingual in English and Spanish. The Unit also includes 6 Detective Investigators.
The Gang Unit is responsible for the prosecution of all gang-related crimes as well as all prosecutions in which the defendant is a known gang member. Previously, misdemeanors and felonies committed by gang members were assigned to various bureaus throughout the District Attorney’s Office, which resulted in a lack of coordination and decentralized intelligence on gang-related crime.
The ADAs and Detective Investigators in the Gang Unit will receive extensive training both internally and externally by gang experts so they are continuously informed of the latest gang-related intelligence and are on the cutting edge of gang prosecutions.
“By assigning these cases to specially-trained ADAs who exclusively focus on gang cases, they will become experts on gang prosecutions, on the gangs operating in Suffolk County, on the way they operate, and on specific gang members here in Suffolk County,” District Attorney Sini said.
Prior to the announcement, District Attorney Sini held the first of a recurring bi-weekly meeting with all of the local, state and federal law enforcement agencies involved in the arrest, prosecution, imprisonment and post-release supervision of gang members in Suffolk County, including representatives from:
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
Drug Enforcement Administration
Federal Bureau of Investigations
Homeland Security Investigations
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York
New York State Agencies:
New York State Police – Troop L
New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision
Suffolk County Agencies:
Suffolk County Police Department
Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office
Suffolk County Department of Probation
Suffolk County Crime Stoppers
Amityville Police Department
Asharoken Police Department
East Hampton Town Police Department
East Hampton Village Police Department
Head of the Harbor Village Police Department
Huntington Bay Police Department
Lloyd Harbor Police Department
Nissequogue Village Police Department
Northport Police Department
Quogue Village Police Department
Riverhead Police Department
Sag Harbor Police Department
Shelter Island Police Department
Southampton Town Police Department
Southampton Village Police Department
Southold Town Police Department
Westhampton Beach Police Department
“Collectively, these law enforcement agencies have stood tall on the front lines of our fight against gangs here in Suffolk County,” District Attorney Sini said. “Unfortunately, for far too long, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office did not provide the leadership necessary to bring that fight to the next level. That ends today.”
The biweekly meetings, which will be co-hosted by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office’s Gang Unit and the Suffolk County Police Department, will allow the law enforcement agencies operating in Suffolk County to share intelligence on gangs and work collaboratively on enforcement initiatives.
District Attorney Sini highlighted the partnership between the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York to allow for gang members to be prosecuted under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which is an effective tool used to dismantle gangs.
“As a former federal prosecutor, I know that there are cases that make sense to be prosecuted federally and there are cases that make sense to be prosecuted locally,” District Attorney Sini said. “Now, for the first time in a long time, we will have collaboration and we will agree to bring cases where it makes the most sense for the case and for the people of Suffolk County. We will be cross-designating Assistant District Attorneys and Assistant United States Attorneys so that we can work together under the roof of one office to target gang members.”
District Attorney Sini also announced a new partnership between the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and Suffolk County Crime Stoppers, a not-for-profit organization, to offer a monetary reward of up to $5,000 to members of the public who provide information that leads to the arrest of gang members.
“To put it plainly, we want gang members and we’re willing to pay for them. We want to arrest them, we want to prosecute them, and we want to put them in prison for a very, very long time,” District Attorney Sini said.
The new program gives Suffolk County residents an opportunity to report suspected gang activity in their communities to assist law enforcement in targeting gangs. Information on gang members and gang activity can be provided anonymously via the Suffolk County Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-220-TIPS. The Crime Stoppers hotline can accommodate over 200 languages. Reward recipients can remain anonymous and receive payment regardless of criminal history or immigration status.
“Let us be clear. All of us here today and the public have a message for gang members in Suffolk County: If you don’t like the inside of a cell, think about another way of life because law enforcement – from local police departments to the federal government – and every member of the public are coming for you,” District Attorney Sini said.