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June 1, 11

NEWS / Trenton Man Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison for Trafficking Guns from Virginia to New Jersey to Sell

Admitted leading network that trafficked 50 guns to Trenton, including AK-47 assault weapon

TRENTON –Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced that a Trenton man was sentenced to prison today for leading a network that trafficked guns to Trenton from the Eastern Shore of Virginia. The defendant was linked to guns recovered in connection with several homicide investigations and a narcotics investigation.

According to Director Taylor, Trayle Beasley, 30, of Trenton, was sentenced to 12 years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Pedro J. Jimenez Jr. in Mercer County. Beasley pleaded guilty on April 25 to a first-degree charge of leader of a firearms trafficking network, admitting that he trafficked approximately 50 guns to Trenton from Virginia, including at least one AK-47 assault weapon. The charge was contained in a May 21, 2010 state grand jury indictment that also charged four other men. Beasley also pleaded guilty on April 25 to a charge of unlawful possession of a handgun, which was filed by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office in connection with an armed robbery in East Windsor in March 2009. He was sentenced today on that charge to three years in state prison without possibility of parole, to be served concurrently with the 12-year sentence.

Deputy Attorney General Russell Curley prosecuted the gun trafficking case for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. The investigation was spearheaded by the New Jersey State Police - ATF Joint Firearms Task Force and the Division of Criminal Justice. The task force led by the New Jersey State Police and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives also includes the Trenton Police, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Those agencies worked with the Hamilton Police (Mercer County), East Windsor Police and Eastern Shore (Va.) Drug Task Force, including the Virginia State Police and Northampton and Accomack County Sheriff’s Departments.

The weapons linked to Beasley included the gun used in the gang-related drive-by shooting on June 7, 2009 that killed 13-year-old Tamrah Leonard during a block party in Trenton, and the gun used in the murder of Tracey Crews, 23, inside his home in Trenton on Sept. 12, 2008.

“The devastation caused in our communities by guns illegally trafficked into New Jersey is illustrated with heartbreaking clarity by this defendant, whose guns cut short the lives of an innocent teenage girl caught in a drive-by shooting and a young father ambushed in his home,” said Attorney General Dow. “This sentence puts Beasley behind bars where he cannot peddle his deadly wares.”

“This sentence sends a strong message to interstate gun traffickers: We have you in our sights,” said Director Taylor. “If we see a constellation of crimes involving guns traced to a common origin, we will investigate you, identify you as the source of those illicit guns, and aggressively prosecute you.”

“This investigation and prosecution is another endorsement of a statewide strategy that targets gun violence from two directions, focusing upon both the felons who use the guns in their hands and also upon the criminal profiteers who illegally put those guns in their hands,” said Colonel Rick Fuentes, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police.

“ATF views firearms trafficking as a very serious threat to the security and safety of our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew W. Horace of ATF’s Newark Field Division. “Everyone involved in this investigation supports that view. The defendants in this case and the criminal firearms will never be used to commit violent crimes or other illegal acts. We are pleased with the investigation, the commitment of the prosecutors and the outcome.”

In pleading guilty to the leader charge, Beasley admitted that he solicited individuals in the Eastern Shore of Virginia, where he had lived, to provide him with guns, which he brought to New Jersey to sell illegally. Beasley sold guns to drug dealers and gang members in Trenton. He preferred to deal in revolvers because they do not leave shell casings at crime scenes. He was indicted in connection with 12 guns, including eight handguns, two shotguns and two rifles. Five of the guns were seized by the Maryland State Police on Nov. 16, 2008, when they stopped Beasley’s car as he drove through Maryland. Beasley served a one-year prison sentence in Maryland for unlawful possession of those guns. The other seven guns were recovered by police in New Jersey in connection with crimes and traced through the NJ Trace program, a first-in-the-nation partnership of the Attorney General’s Office, State Police and ATF to trace crime guns recovered in New Jersey using ATF’s national eTrace system. The Attorney General requires information on all guns seized by police in New Jersey be entered into eTrace within 24 hours.

Two of the other men indicted with Beasley have pleaded guilty. Bobby Lee Henderson, 24, of Townsend, Va., and Larry Nottingham, 28, of Eastville, Va., each pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of a weapon. They were sentenced on May 3 to probation plus the jail time they had already served from the time of their arrests last year to sentencing. Charges are pending against Amoi Smith, 21, of Cranbury, and Johnathan Johnson, 28, of Cape Charles, Va. It is alleged that Johnson would purchase or gather weapons for Beasley or would coordinate meetings for Beasley, during which Beasley would purchase weapons from others in the Eastern Shore. Smith allegedly traveled with Beasley on trips to get guns. Those men are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Supervising Deputy Attorney General Andrew M. Butchko presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice Gangs & Organized Crime Bureau. Attorney General Dow thanked the supervisors and agents of ATF who conducted the investigation, as well as all of the members of the State Police - ATF Joint Firearms Task Force and other participating agencies, including these members of the New Jersey State Police: Detective Sgt. Eric Barlow, Detective Sgt. Brian Duross, Detective Brian Ruane and Detective Marc Friedenberger. She also credited Detective Gary Britton of the Trenton Police, Detective Jeff Dorian of the East Windsor Police, and members of the Eastern Shore Drug Task Force, including Scott Wade of the Virginia State Police, Lt. Timothy Reibel of the Virginia State Police, Detective Steve Lewis of the Northampton County Sheriff’s Department, and Detective Wayne Greer of the Accomack County Sheriff’s Department.




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