Jallah Drake fired a gun at Richard Gibbs’ car, striking him fatally in the chest as he drove on Clinton Street in Albany’s South End in November 2011.
Authorities investigating Albany gang activity quickly became concerned by the shooting, which appeared retaliatory for others that had occurred.
Fearing the 25-year-old ex-convict’s death might touch off an explosion of gang violence, a task force probing a massive drug ring spanning the Capital Region moved quickly to wrap up the investigation.
Drake, 21, was among dozens rounded up in a huge sweep that concluded in March 2012. On Friday, Albany County Court Judge Stephen Herrick ordered him to serve up to 15 years in prison for killing Gibbs.
“This sentencing brings to a close one of Albany’s most difficult periods of violence,” Albany County District Attorney P. David Soares said in a statement. “Lives were lost and future hopes dashed because people like Mr. Drake continued to participate in the cycle of recycled violence.”
Drake admitted to one count of first-degree manslaughter last month in connection with the shooting. Also concluded were the cases of Kareem Collier, 26, Jameek Croley, 25, and Rashad Maye, 25, all of Albany, who were handed sentences of time served after each admitting to one count of criminal weapon possession.
Dubbed “Operation OGK,” the six-month investigation was a collaborative effort between more than 150 officers that involved roughly 60 locations in the Northeast. Charges lodged against 42 individuals included criminal sale and criminal possession of a controlled substance and conspiracy in the second-degree, all felonies.
Investigators were just beginning to assemble their case when it became clear that Gibbs’ death was about to touch off retaliatory gang violence on the streets. Gibbs, who was later identified as a cocaine trafficker in a 261-count indictment, was associated with the Albany-based Original Gangsta Killas, or “OGK” street gang; five members of the gang were among the 42 arrested during the sweep.
The indictment claimed Travis Nutbrown, a 33-year-old Vermont man, gave 34-year-old Mario Perez of Troy a revolver in exchange for cocaine. Authorities believe Perez was going to supply OGK member Jamel Pearson, 34, of Albany, with a gun to exact retribution on the rival gang suspected in the Gibbs killing.