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Buffalo gang leader sentenced to 25 for three murders

Nearly seven years after the murders of Brandon Haugabook, Larry Crosland and Shawn Kozma, the gang leader behind the killings is going to federal prison.

Johnny Rounds, the acknowledged leader of the Rounds Crew, a gang known for using violence to protect its turf around the Broadway Market, was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison.

U.S. District Judge William M. Skretny said other members of Rounds’ gang may have committed the murders but it was Rounds who was ultimately responsible for the deaths of three innocent people.

“Absolutely, absolutely horrific," Skretny said of the bloodshed caused by Rounds and his gang. “It doesn’t get much uglier than that.”

At the time of the three murders, the Rounds Crew was feuding with a rival gang, LRGP, located just a few blocks away.

One of the casualties of that feud was Haugabook, 19, who Rounds Crew member DeMario Stewert admitted killing in July of 2009. Stewert said he considered Haugabook a member of LRGP and shot him because of his affiliation with the rival gang.

Kozma was also targeted by the gang, and Lorenzo Hunt, 27, a Rounds Crew member, admitted killing him because the gang suspected him of cooperating with Buffalo Police.

“They beat him up, they shot him like an animal and then they burned his body," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel L. Violanti.

Unlike Kozma and Haugabook, Crosland had no connection to the gang feud in his neighborhood. He was shot by another member of the gang, Adrian L. Traylor, during Traylor’s encounter with a carload of LRGP members on William Street.

Traylor fired at the car and one of the stray bullets struck Crosland while he stood in front of his home. Traylor is already serving 25 years in federal prison for his role in the killing.

William Easton, Rounds’ defense lawyer, argued for a shorter sentence and pointed to his client’s genuine remorse over the killings, as well as the dramatic changes in him during his nearly six years in custody.

Rounds’ sentence is the result of an investigation by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, Buffalo Police and State Police.

email: pfairbanks@buffnews.com