DOWNTOWN BROOKLYN — #Busted!
A gang of Tweeting teenage thugs that terrorized the neighborhood around Crown Heights' Brower Park for almost a year are behind bars awaiting trial, thanks in part to their boasts on Facebook and other social media, Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes announced Wednesday morning.
"When these gang members started their cycle of crime, the majority of the burglaries occurred when the victims were not home," Hynes said. "But their criminal behavior became more and more violent over a short period of time."
Hynes and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly announced an 102-count indictment against 14 members of the Brower Boys gang, whom police claim are responsible for a string of Crown Heights burglaries — some involving brutal attacks — between April of 2011 and March of this year.
According to prosecutors, the gang targeted new residents, busting through ground floor windows or racing across rooftops and shimmying down fire-escapes into apartments on the upper levels. They lifted mostly electronics, reselling them at local bodegas, police said.
But cops got the last LOL, after Officer Michael Rodriguez of the 77th Precinct began tracking the teens' frequent boasts and spats on Facebook and Twitter, where they discussed their increasingly brazen break-ins.
"On Jan. 20, 2012, the defendant Derrin Dyson wrote on his Facebook page that it was 'break-in day on the Avenue," Hynes said told reporters.
Dyson and three others gang members then allegedly broke into an apartment where they tied up two residents, sexually assaulting one of them before fleeing with property police later recovered from Dyson's home and a nearby bodega.
"Some of them found the instant celebrity of social media irresistable," Kelly said. "An 18-year-old with the name 'Pretty Boy Sleepy' posted videos and photos of himself with a gun. In another instance, the Brower Boys argued on Facebook over a laptop and other proceeds of a burglary."
The top charges on the indictment carry a penalty of five to 25 years, Hynes said. The burglaries will each be charged individually, giving a judge the discretion to impose consecutive sentences in the event of a conviction.
"These kids are between 15 and 19," Hynes said. "I hope it may frighten other young people out of this type of activity."