A 34-year-old Newark man who was caught up in a massive sweep of one of the city's most violent street gangs was found guilty Thursday of murder and drug-related racketeering charges, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.
Khalil Stafford, also known as "Stod" and "Homicide," belonged to the Grape Street Crips gang when he and 13 others were charged with murder in aid of racketeering and drug offenses, including possession of more than a kilo of heroin with intent to distribute.
A total of 66 gang members were charged in May 2015 for a wide range of offenses, including witness intimidation and assault in connection with the drug ring.
A jury found Stafford guilty of confronting another person at a family cookout on June 19, 2010, over a drug debt. Stafford and several other gang members left the Garside Street home and returned armed.
The group fired a dozen times at the man, striking a woman standing nearby who was not involved in the dispute. Hope Williams, 33, was killed and two others were wounded, according to a published report.
Stafford had previously been acquitted of the killing by a jury in Essex County Superior Court. The U.S. Attorney's Office last year decided to bring federal charges against Stafford for the same incident, a tactic which did not violate Stafford's constitutional protection against double jeopardy because the federal charges were distinct from the state charges, NJ.com also reported.
Stafford, who was involved in the heroin trade for several years at the James Baxter Terrace public housing complex until it was torn down in 2009, had also repeatedly sold heroin to DEA informants, netting about $20,000 in a series of transactions.
Stafford faces a mandatory life sentence for the charge of murder in the aid of racketeering as well as a possible, separate life sentence for conspiracy to distribute heroin. His sentencing is scheduled for June.
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