2008-06-13 / Top Stories

Gang Members Convicted In Separate Incidents

ByNicholas Briano

Two Far Rockaway men were convicted last week in separate weapons possessions charges stemming from crimes they committed in 2006, according to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

Andrew Smalls, 21, of 7600 Shore Front Parkway, was convicted last week of second degree criminal possession of a weapon following a jury trial in Queens Supreme Court. Smalls, who faces up to 15 years in prison, will be sentenced July 10.

According to DA Brown, Andrew Smalls was arrested after police officers from the 100 Precinct heard a gunshot near the Hammel Houses in the early morning hours of May 20, 2006.

Responding officers saw a number of people, including Smalls, walking away from the scene.

The police stopped and searched Smalls, and then arrested him and his brother, Ronnie Smalls, and charged them with illegally possessing a loaded .380 semi-automatic gun.

Last week's conviction comes just months after Smalls' older brother Ronnie, was shot and killed by police in a confrontation on Beach 63 Street, after a 101 Precinct crime team spotted Smalls, who was wanted on a bench warrant issued for his arrest as a result of a November incident on Beach Channel Drive near Beach 64 Street.

The cops attempted to stop Ronnie Smalls and arrest him that night, but he continued to walk away. Two cops chased him on foot and the other drove after him as he turned north on Beach 63 Street.

Smalls reportedly stopped and pulled a gun, pointing it at the officers and allegedly fired a shot at them. Shots were exchanged and Smalls was hit twice. He later died at Peninsula Hospital Center.

Both brothers were reputed members of "GIB," a drug gang centered in the Hammel Houses, and both were repeat offenders.

The second conviction relates to another gang member, Joel Clarke, who faces five years in prison when sentenced on July 16.

DA Brown said that Clarke, 21, of 1315 Dinsmore Street in Far Rockaway, pled guilty last week to second degree criminal possession of a weapon.

After serving his sentence Clarke is expected to receive five years of postrelease supervision. The defendant is reportedly a member of the Crips gang.

101 Precinct police arrested Clarke when they recovered a loaded .25 caliber semi-automatic pistol from his pants pocket on August 24, 2006, at the corner of Seagirt Avenue and Beach 25 Street.

"These convictions are particularly significant in light of the recent string of senseless shootings in the Rockaways that left two young people dead. They send a clear message that we are committed to getting guns off of the streets of Far Rockaway and putting those who would carry them into prison," District Attorney Brown said in a press release following the two convictions.

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