Antoine “Deuce” Sanders, the self-proclaimed leader of a gang that committed crimes in North Buffalo, recruited five teenagers for the gang and ordered them to rob victims he selected at random as part of a gang-initiation ritual.
During a 24-hour period last June, they held up five people at gunpoint, taking three cars, money, jewelry and personal property.
Sanders, 22, and the teens were all sentenced to prison terms Tuesday.
“It’s time to speak up for and protect the law-abiding residents of Buffalo,” State Supreme Court Justice Christopher J. Burns said.
“The victims’ lives here have been changed forever. They no longer feel safe doing routine activities, and they worry for their families’ safety in this city.”
“This is outrageous, and it happened three times, and you wouldn’t have stopped if not caught,” he added.
Sanders, of Glenwood Avenue, leader of the Rollin’ 60s Crypts, a spinoff of the nationally known Crips gang, got the longest sentence – 19 years.
Assistant District Attorney Michael P. Felicetta called Sanders “a one-man wrecking crew” who recruited the five teens ranging in age from 15 to 18 and provided the pistol used in the holdups.
“He’s the one who put the idea in their heads,” he told the judge, referring to Sanders and his teenage co-defendants. “He changed five young lives as well as the victims’ lives.”
The prosecutor said Sanders selected the first two victims and was present at the holdup at 1:45 a.m. June 23 in the parking lot at the North Buffalo Ice Rink on Tacoma Avenue where the victims had just finished hockey practice. He said Sanders told the teens where to find the other victims.
At 1 a.m. June 24 the teens forced two victims out of their car at the North Buffalo Community Center and took their cellphones before stealing the car.
Less than an hour later, the suspects approached a man who had just parked his car on Huntington Avenue. A 15-year-old showed the gun as the others took the victim’s wallet, then fled in his car.
Burns sentenced Sanders, who had pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree robbery and one count of weapon possession, to 19 years on each of the robbery counts and 15 years on the weapon count. He ordered the sentences to run concurrently.
Sanders also was suspected of ordering two other teen gang members to fatally stab and burn a 16-year-old on an old railroad path off Colvin Avenue nearly three years ago. He was never charged, but Ezeikile Nafi, who was 16 at the time, and Demetrius Huff, 17, were convicted at separate trials and are serving lengthy prison sentences.
Burns gave five-year prison sentences to Jawon Williams, 17, of Sattler Avenue, and Michael McCrayer, 18, also of Sattler Avenue, and prison sentences of two to six years to two juvenile offenders who were 15 at the time of the robberies.
He also ordered the defendants to pay $1,050 in restitution to each of the two victims who requested it. Another victim was compensated through his insurance company, while two others suffered no financial loss. The three cars were recovered.
Terryn Jones, 16, of Donovan Drive, will be sentenced Wednesday.