“Ygz” Gang Members Plead Guilty In Manhattan Federal Court To Murders And Other Crimes In Connection With Racketeering Conspiracy
Terrance Williams Pleads Guilty To The Murder Of An Innocent Bystander; Wendell Belle Pleads Guilty To The Brutal Stomping Death Of Moises “Noah” Lora
Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced that TERRANCE WILLIAMS, a/k/a “TA,” and WENDELL BELLE, a/k/a “Delly Dell,” pled guilty in Manhattan federal court to racketeering and firearms charges involving multiple acts of violence. WILLIAMS pled guilty yesterday and BELLE pled guilty this morning before United States District Judge Valerie E..Caproni. Through their guilty pleas, WILLIAMS admitted his murder of Curtis Smith on July 3, 2011, and BELLE admitted his murder of Moises “Noah” Lora on April 16, 2012. Both of these murders were committed in the South Bronx within the confines of the New York City Police Department’s 40th Precinct, and both were committed in connection with WILLIAMS and BELLE’s membership in the violent “Young Gunnaz” street gang (“YGz”).
As part of his guilty plea, WILLIAMS admitted to shooting and killing Curtis Smith, a 23-year-old, on Park Avenue near the Jackson Houses in the South Bronx, and to shooting and injuring a rival gang member in front of the Sweet Corner convenience store at Park Avenue and 158th Street in the South Bronx. On August 31, 2016, WILLIAMS pled guilty under a prior plea agreement with this Office before Judge Caproni to racketeering conspiracy based on his commission of certain acts of violence and drug crimes for the YGz gang. As a result of law enforcement’s continuing investigation in this case, at yesterday’s plea proceeding before Judge Caproni, WILLIAMS withdrew his previously entered guilty plea and pled guilty under a new plea agreement with the Office to racketeering conspiracy based on the murder of Curtis Smith and the separate attempted murder described above, and based also on his commission of the acts of violence and drug crimes that he had previously admitted on August 31, 2016. In light of WILLIAMS’s guilty plea in federal court yesterday, WILLIAMS faces a maximum term of life in prison.
As part of his guilty plea, BELLE admitted to the brutal assault of Moises “Noah” Lora, during which BELLE and others stomped Lora to death in the courtyard of a residential housing complex located at 700 Morris Avenue in the South Bronx. BELLE also admitted to the attempted murder of another rival gang member on November 16, 2013, immediately in front of the Bronx Criminal Courthouse, during which BELLE fired multiple shots at his rival. WILLIAMS was previously arrested for murdering Curtis Smith based on state charges filed by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, but the charges were later dismissed. In light of BELLE’s guilty plea today, BELL faces a maximum term of life in prison and mandatory term of 30 years in prison. Both WILLIAMS and BELLE are scheduled to be sentenced later this year before Judge Caproni.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “For far too long, members of the YGz gang and their rival gangs have terrorized communities in the Bronx by engaging in all manner of mayhem – including murder, attempted murder, and other racketeering activities. Terrance Williams and Wendell Belle almost got away with murder, but thanks to the tireless efforts of law enforcement, they have both pled guilty to murders they committed as members of the Ygz gang.”
According to the charging and other documents filed in the case, as well as statements made during the plea proceedings:
WILLIAMS was a member of the Bronx-based street gang known as the YGz, a leading member of a set of the YGz based in Maria Lopez Plaza in the Bronx, and committed acts of violence with other YGz gang members to further the goals of the gang. BELLE was a leading member of the YGz set based in the River Park Towers in the Bronx, and also committed multiple acts of violence with other YGz gang members. From at least 2005 to 2016, members and associates of the YGz enriched themselves by committing robberies and by selling drugs, such as crack cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, and committed acts of violence, including murder and attempted murder, against various people, including rival gang members, rival drug traffickers, and innocent bystanders. As part of this enterprise, members and associates of the YGz killed and attempted to kill other individuals.
As part of their involvement in the YGz gang, WILLIAMS and BELLE each participated in acts of violence, as well as narcotics trafficking, with other YGz members.
For example, on July 3, 2011, WILLIAMS and several other YGz members rode on bicycles from YGz territory on Morris Avenue near 151st Street northbound to the territory of a rival gang on Park Avenue near 158th Street in the South Bronx. Upon arriving in the rival gang’s territory, WILLIAMS saw a rival gang member standing at the corner of Park Avenue and 158th Street in front of the Sweet Corner convenience store. From his bicycle, WILLIAMS pulled out a gun and fired gunshots at this rival gang member, two of which hit and injured the rival, who survived the shooting.
On the same date, after that shooting was complete, WILLIAMS decided to ride his bicycle southbound on Park Avenue with the goal of returning to YGz territory. While WILLIAMS was riding south on Park Avenue, he saw a group of people who appeared to be running at him from an apartment building in the rival gang’s territory. WILLIAMS fired gunshots at this group of people, and hit one of them – 23-year-old Curtis Smith – in the head. Smith died several days later.
Meanwhile, on November 16, 2013, only days before his attempted murder in the shadow of the Bronx County Criminal Court, BELLE and other YGz members and associates approached members of a rival gang based on Courtlandt Avenue in the Bronx and fired several shots in the hope of killing those rivals. In the chaos of that shooting, one of BELLE’s fellow gang members struck and injured an innocent bystander.
WILLIAMS, BELLE, and multiple other YGz members were included in a December 2015 federal racketeering prosecution captioned United States v. Ramel Matthews, et al., now before Judge Caproni, in which all of the defendants were charged with racketeering conspiracy for participation in the YGz gang, and various of the defendants were also charged with participation in several murders, attempted murders, narcotics trafficking, and firearms offenses.
WILLIAMS was the third defendant and BELLE was the fourth defendant in a racketeering prosecution by this Office of multiple YGz members to admit participation in YGz gang-related murders. Earlier this year, as part of guilty plea proceedings before Judge Caproni in that case, co-defendant Anthony Scott, a/k/a “Tyson,” admitted to shooting and killing Darrel Ledgister on June 27, 2009, in the South Bronx within the 40th Precinct, during an attempted robbery, and Paul Gilbert, a/k/a “2Fly Tay,” admitted to participating in the murder of Cody Dubose on September 27, 2014, near the Taft Houses in Manhattan during an attempted robbery.
WILLIAMS was previously arrested for murdering Curtis Smith based on state charges filed by the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, but the charges were later dismissed. Through the subsequent federal investigation of the YGz gang, this Office and its law enforcement partners further developed the evidence of WILLIAMS’s guilt, culminating in his plea yesterday.
Mr. Bharara praised the work of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the New York City Police Department in the investigation of this case. He also thanked the Bronx District Attorney’s Office for their support in this case.