Producer of Stop Snitching video sentenced
The Maryland U.S. Attorney's Office announced today the sentencings of two gang members, including the infamous Ronnie Thomas, known as Skinny Suge, the producer of the Stop Snitching videos (link goes to YouTube, video contains offensive language).
In the video, Thomas said, "I can say what I want. F--- the police. F--- Patricia Jessamy. I can't go to jail for that. This is how I feel. What y'all getting me for? Freedom of speech?" What they got him for was racketeering conspiracy, and he got nearly the maximum sentence.
The video came to symbolize Baltimore's witness intimidation culture, and got NBA star and native Baltimorean Carmelo Anthony in hot water for a cameo. The player later apologized and said he didn't endorse its message.
Here is the statement from federal authorities:
U.S. District Judge William D. Quarles, Jr. sentenced Sherman Pride, a/k/a Dark Black and DB, age 35, of Salisbury, Maryland, to 292 months in prison, followed by five years of supervised release; and sentenced co-defendant Ronnie Thomas, a/k/a Rodney Thomas, Skinny Suge and Tall Vialz, age 36, of Baltimore, to 235 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for participating in a racketeering conspiracy through the Tree Top Piru Bloods (TTP Bloods), which engaged in narcotics trafficking, conspiracy to commit murder and robbery. Pride also was convicted of conspiring to distribute cocaine.
“Many dangerous criminals have been convicted and removed from Maryland as a result of superb work by police and prosecutors on the TTP Bloods investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “Racketeering cases often are time-consuming, but they make a dramatic contribution to public safety."
"Violent criminals are not only infiltrating our metropolitan cities, they are spreading their destruction to smaller communities,” says ATF Special Agent in Charge Joseph Riehl. “Unfortunately for the criminals, no matter where they set up shop, ATF will shut them down. We are more committed to getting them off the streets, than they are committed to being on the streets.”
For more information:
TTP Bloods, a violent gang, originated from a street gang known as “the Bloods” that was formed in Los Angeles, California in the early 1970s. The Bloods broke into individual “sets” including a subset known as Tree Top Pirus (TTP).
TTP spread throughout the country, including Maryland. TTP in Maryland has its roots in a local gang which began in the Washington County Detention Center in Hagerstown, Maryland in about 1999.
The gang was formed for mutual protection in response to the aggression of other inmates from Baltimore and spread throughout Maryland mostly by recruiting from inside Maryland prisons.
According to testimony at their trial, from 2005 to February 2008 Pride and Thomas were members of TTP.
In letters written by TTP leaders, Pride was identified as the leader of the Maryland Eastern Shore set of the TTP and Thomas was also identified as a gang leader in Maryland. Thomas produced both “Stop Snitching” videos. Thomas discussed with another gang member retaliating against a store owner who refused to sell his “Stop Snitching 2” video.
Testimony was also introduced at trial that: Pride was arrested after attempting to toss a bag containing crack and drug paraphernalia into a car to hide it from police; and that Pride told a fellow prisoner in a jailhouse that he was a high-ranking Blood on the Eastern Shore and had arranged the transport of kilograms of cocaine from California to Salisbury, Maryland.
This case is the result of a long-term joint investigation by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Baltimore City Police Department, the Baltimore County Police Department, the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office and the United States Attorney’s Office. Twenty-two defendants have been convicted of the RICO conspiracy and 16 of those have been sentenced to between 21 months and 30 years in prison.
Four other defendants have pleaded guilty to related charges. Charges filed against two remaining defendants are pending.
In addition to Thomas, eight other individuals connected with the nitching” videos have been prosecuted in federal court. Co-defendant Van Sneed, who appeared in the original video, pleaded guilty to racketeering charges. His sentencing has not yet been scheduled. Akiba Matthews, the cameraman who appeared in the original video, was convicted of drug and gun offenses and sentenced in August 2008 to 30 years in prison.
Sherman Kemp, who was prominently featured in the original video, pleaded guilty to drug and gun offenses and was sentenced in October 2008 to 15 years in prison. George Butler, who appeared in the original video, pleaded guilty to conspiring to distribute drugs and was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Warren Polston, who speaks in the original video, pleaded guilty to drug trafficking and was sentenced to five years in prison. Eric Bailey, who proclaimed “rat poison” the cure for cooperators in the original video, was sentenced to 37 months for a gun crime. Former Baltimore City police officers William King and Antonio L. Murray, whose names were featured in the original “Stop Snitching” video, were convicted of robbery, drug trafficking and firearms offenses and sentenced in June 2006 to 315 years and 139 years in prison, respectively.