A member of Schenectady’s Four Block gang pleaded guilty to a conspiracy count in federal court Tuesday, the first alleged member to do so.
Shaquan Hayes, 20, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count before U.S. District Judge David Hurd. He faces up to 20 years in federal prison, but his sentence is expected to be between 4 years, 9 months and 5 years, 11 months.
Hayes admitted to being a part of the gang, which he described to Hurd as a “bunch of kids from the neighborhood.”
Hurd, presiding by teleconference from Utica, became frustrated at Hayes’ responses, believing he was being evasive. After a break where Hayes conferred with his attorney Joseph McCoy, the plea continued, and Hayes admitted to being involved in the gang’s drug trafficking.
Specifically, Hayes admitted to taking part in a telephone conversation July 3, 2010, in which another gang member asked him for some “food,” which prosecutors said meant crack cocaine.
Hayes also admitted to being hit by flying glass during a shootout between the Four Block gang and a rival gang later that month. Hayes told Hurd he didn’t see who was involved in the shooting because his head was down.
Then, on Sept. 11, 2010, Hayes admitted possessing about 9 grams of crack cocaine in Schenectady.
“The only thing I know about are the drugs that I dealt with,” Hayes told the judge.
He added that he was not involved in any murders or attempted murders.
Hayes’ plea deal only concerned himself. There was no agreement to testify against other members of the gang.
Hayes was among 19 people indicted in May related to the alleged Four Block gang conspiracy. In all, 44 were indicted on related offenses.
Authorities believe the Four Block Gang controlled much of the drug dealing in Schenectady’s Hamilton Hill neighborhood, committing drive-by shootings to protect their turf and feuding with rival gangs. Those feuds, one of the indictments reads, “resulted in murders and attempted murders.”
Authorities have said they began their investigation after four teenage Schenectady girls killed themselves two years ago. Three of the suicides were the direct result of harassment at the hands of gang members, authorities said. Other girls attempted suicide.
Authorities looking into the suicides soon realized there was a gang connection and an intensive federal, state and local investigation followed. In morning raids, authorities seized $11,000 in cash, three handguns, one AK-47 assault rifle and 200 grams of crack cocaine, authorities said.
The 44 individuals face federal indictments alleging criminal acts in Schenectady, Glenville, Niskayuna, Saratoga Springs and as far away as Rutland, Vt.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence Kelly.
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