Ramarley Graham's Brothers Cleared of Most Charges in Harlem Gun Case
MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT—The twin brothers of Ramarley Graham, an unarmed Bronx teen shot dead by police in February, were convicted of conspiracy in a case charging them with being part of a gang importing and selling guns in Harlem, but cleared of the rest of the charges, including attempted murder and weapons possession.
The father of the teens, Franclot Graham, said that his sons being convicted on only one count each of the several they faced, proved his claim that the charges were "retribution" for a civil lawsuit the family filed against the NYPD alleging brutality and harassment.
"The only conspiracy was the district attorney and the police," he said outside the courtroom. "It was all about the lawsuit they have against the police."
Hodean Graham, 19, was found not guilty of attempted murder, assault and weapons possession. His twin brother Kadean, was also found not guilty of weapons possessions charges.
With nine court officers present to keep the calm, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin ordered the brothers, who prosecutors say were known as the "Gotti Twins" on the street, held without bail until sentencing, causing family members to burst out in tears.
"Why, why did you do that to my kids," Yvette Graham, wailed as she sat in the hallway after the conviction.
District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. said the gang caused havoc in Harlem by selling drugs to fund the purchase of high-powered weaponry such as a TEC-9 machine pistol and a Chinese SKS semiautomatic rifle.
“This violent street gang was as young as it was dangerous, its members having been involved in multiple shootings over a four-year period in a concentrated area of Central Harlem,” Vance said.
“What started out as a group of disenfranchised teens and young men who were unaffiliated with other, more prominent gangs, evolved into an armed and highly organized crew in its own right."
With the convictions of the two Graham brothers, 15 people from the alleged 129th Street crew known as "GoodFellas" have been convicted or pled guilty to conspiracy or gun charges, Vance said.
The district attorney's office requested a four-year state prison term for each brother, but Graham's lawyers asked for leniency, saying the young men were in college.
McLaughlin said it was hard to consider leniency "when guns are involved."
According to the charges, the pair were involved in importing automatic rifles and pistols that they sold and used in shootings around their turf, centered at 129th Street and Lenox Avenue.
The FBI and NYPD say they purchased 15 weapons from their alleged crew or their associates from 2007 to 2011. Vance said another 9 loaded guns were uncovered during the execution of search warrants and arrests.
Witnesses at trial described allegedly seeing one of the Graham twins fire four shots from a .380 semi-automatic weapon at a crowd in 2009 after a dispute with a crew from the Grant Houses.
But Franclot Graham said his sons had put their troubled past, including being on parole for drug sales, behind them.
Neville Mitchell, attorney for Hodean Graham, said the DA's office overreached in the case.
"They tried to paint them as gun-toting criminals but this is a case of using a shotgun to solve a termite problem," he said.
Kadean Graham's lawyer, Frank Rothman, said he thought the jury's conviction "was pretty thoughtful, and I'm relieved."
But Rothman was dismayed by the twins remand to jail until their sentencing. "They've been out for years," Rothman said. "Why put them in jail now?"
Another defendant in the case, Cordero Bailey, 24, was found not guilty of two counts conspiracy and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.
Ramarley Graham, who lived in The Bronx with his grandmother, was shot to death by NYPD Officer Richard Haste in February after he was chased from White Plains Road and East 228th Street to his home nearby by police who were investigating a report of a drug deal.
The officers believed they saw a gun in Graham's waistband and tried to break through the front door of the building before breaking through the door of the apartment, confronting Graham in the bathroom and fatally shooting him in the chest. Police say a single bag of marijuana was found in the toilet.
Haste pled not guilty to manslaughter charges in Bronx Supreme Court last week.
Ramarley Graham has a different mother from Hodean and Kadean Graham.
Constance Malcolm, Ramarley Graham's mother, left the courtroom shortly after the verdict was announced.
Family members don't believe Ramarley Graham's case is connected to that of his two brothers but say that both cases highlight controversial NYPD policies such as stop-and-frisk, which have come under increased public scrutiny lately.
Vance framed the convictions as part of an effort to stop armed, violent and drug-dealing gangs in Harlem.
He cited the convictions of 21 members of an East Harlem gang known as the "Kings of Dust," which sold $1 million a year worth of PCP and used an 8-year-old as a lookout and the conviction of 14 members of the 137th Street crew which sold drugs and used girls, such as former prep student Afrika Owes to ferry weapons.
"Three areas of Harlem are undoubtedly safer as a result of these long-term, joint law enforcement investigations and ensuing criminal prosecutions," Vance said.
Irene Plagianos contributed reporting.