Lengthy Sentence Closes Out Successful Prosecution of Operation Dead End Defendants

FREEHOLD – An Asbury Park violent criminal street gang ringleader was sentenced to 82 years in a New Jersey state prison on Thursday, announced Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

James Fair, 29, of Eighth Avenue in Asbury Park and a member of the Bloods criminal street gang was convicted of conspiring with others to obtain and transfer guns amongst the group of criminals and target rival street gang members for shootings. As part of his sentence, Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Joseph W. Oxley ordered Fair to serve a minimum period of parole ineligibility of 50 years before he can be released.

On September 27, 2017, Fair was found guilty on 78 charges following a summer-long trial, including charges of first degree Conspiracy to Commit Murder, first degree Racketeering Conspiracy, second degree Conspiracy to Commit Robbery, first degree Robbery, weapons offenses, and drug offenses.

“More than five years ago, our Office and the Monmouth law enforcement community initiated more aggressive efforts at fighting violent crime by criminal street gangs operating in the City of Asbury Park.  The goal of this new initiative was to target and prosecute the ‘worst of the worst’ criminals who chronically terrorize the City with frequent shootings and gang violence.  As part of this strategy, one of several operations called ‘Operation Dead End’ netted 53 arrests in 2014, including several known members of the Bloods and Crips street gangs in Asbury.  Dozens were charged for running an organized criminal enterprise that distributed deadly drugs such as heroin, crack cocaine and synthetic ecstasy; robbery and theft rings; and distributing or possessing illegal firearms that fueled the enterprise,” Gramiccioni said.

The “Operation Dead End” investigation started in the summer of 2013 in conjunction with law enforcement efforts to stem violent street crimes and firearms offenses in Asbury Park.  During the investigation, members of the criminal organization and their conspirators based their criminal activities out of two dead end streets in Asbury Park – Dewitt Avenue, and a section of Jersey Street in the Washington Village Public Housing Complex.

“This past summer, three defendants who pleaded not guilty – Keith German, Haneef Walker and James Fair – were convicted on dozens of counts by a jury of their peers.  Today, Bloods gang leader James Fair, the organizer of this criminal enterprise, was sentenced to 82 years imprisonment; Crips gang leader Haneef Walker was sentenced yesterday to 47 years imprisonment; and former Asbury Park police officer Keith German was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years imprisonment for tipping off these gang members and others about police activities, stalking and official misconduct.  Crips gang leader Altyreek Leonard pleaded guilty to related crimes for his role, and will be sentenced in February 2018.  Dozens of other violent, gang-affiliated defendants were issued substantial jail sentences for their role and involvement in the criminal enterprise,” Gramiccioni added.

The lengthy investigation revealed that members of the criminal organization acted together on numerous occasions to commit a series of armed robberies, residential burglaries, and thefts, and included an organized shoplifting ring that had an established relationship with the owners of a local pawn shop.  The investigation further exposed that members of the criminal organization regularly conspired to commit several different firearms-related offenses, including unlawfully possessing firearms, transferring guns between various members of the criminal organization, and targeting rival gang members and enemies for shootings.  Members of the criminal organization supported their criminal activities by distributing narcotics including cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, and “molly,” a form of ecstasy.

Fair conspired with several other members of the criminal enterprise to obtain and transfer guns amongst the organization and to target rival street gang members for shootings. To that end, Fair directed others within the criminal organization to notify him when their enemies were located and to then assist Fair in attempting to shoot at their enemies.

“Credit goes to dozens of agencies working together across Monmouth County, but the most credit is reserved for citizens in these communities that have been so adversely affected.  Rest assured that, while we are far from declaring victory, we struck hard blows against the gangs and crooks that plague your communities over the past several years.  We never give up.  For those of you engaged in these terrible activities, consider this your warning.  We’ll be watching and we’ll find you when you break the law,” Gramiccioni said.

Prosecutor Gramiccioni thanked numerous law enforcement agencies for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution of this case: Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office; Asbury Park Police Department; Neptune Township Police Department; Neptune City Police Department; Brielle Police Department; Hazlet Township Police Department; Tinton Falls Police Department; Long Branch Police Department; Deal Police Department; Atlantic Highlands Police Department; Ocean Township Police Department; Marlboro Township Police Department; Freehold Township Police Department; Howell Township Police Department; Wall Township Police Department; Avon-by-the-Sea Police Department; Sea Bright Police Department; West Long Branch Police Department; Toms River Police Department, Freehold Borough Police Department, Shrewsbury Police Department, United States Marshal’s Service; United States Drug Enforcement Administration; and United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.

The 82-year sentence imposed on Fair also encompassed his guilty plea on November 2nd of this year to second degree Conspiracy to Commit Armed Burglary in connection with the 2009 home invasion murder of Jonelle Melton in Neptune City.  Three additional defendants remain pending trial in that homicide case.

The cases were prosecuted by Monmouth County Assistant Prosecutors Matthew Bogner and Joseph Cummings.

Fair is represented by Jeffrey W. Coghlan, Esq., of Freehold.

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