John H. Durham, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ANTHONY HARTSELL, also known as “Pop Off,” 37, of New Haven, was sentenced today by Chief U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall in New Haven to 90 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for his role in a violent New Haven street gang.
According to court documents and statements made in court, in January 2014, ATF and the New Haven Police Department began “Operation Red Side” through a series of controlled narcotics purchases and firearms seizures. The investigation revealed that members and associates of the Red Side Guerilla Brims (“RSGB”), a sect of the Bloods street gang based in New Haven, were engaged in narcotics trafficking and related acts of violence, including murder, attempted murder, assaults and armed robberies. In addition to distributing crack cocaine and other narcotics in and around New Haven, the investigation indicated that members and associates of the RSGB, under the direction of Jeffrey Benton and others, transported the drugs to Bangor, Maine, and sold them in Bangor and its surrounding communities. The RSGB also traded narcotics for firearms, brought the firearms back to New Haven and distributed them to gang members. HARTSELL served as second-in-command of the RSGB.
In September 2011, leaders of the RSGB, including Benton and HARTSELL, ordered Robert Short, also known as “Santana,” to murder Darrick Cooper, who was a leader of a rival New Haven gang and seen as a threat. On September 19, 2011, Short lured Cooper to a location in Hamden. Short then shot Cooper in the back of the head as Cooper walked up a staircase.
On May 17, 2016, HARTSELL pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering.
As a result of this investigation, 21 members and associates of the RSGB were convicted of federal charges in Connecticut and Maine. The investigation has resolved seven murder cases, four attempted murders and four armed robberies that occurred in 2011 and 2012.
Benton and Short pleaded guilty to various offenses stemming from this investigation, and both admitted to participating in the murder of Darrick Cooper. Benton also admitted that he participated in three other gang-related murders and one attempted murder.
On October 4, 2017, Benton was sentenced to 480 months of imprisonment. Short awaits sentencing.
U.S. Attorney Durham noted that federal prisoners are required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentenced term of imprisonment and are not eligible for parole.
HARTSELL will begin serving his federal sentence after he completes a state sentence for an unrelated offense.
This investigation has been conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the New Haven Police Department, the Connecticut Department of Correction, the Connecticut State Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Hamden Police Department. The New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office also provided critical assistance in the investigation.
An instrumental component of the investigation has been the work of the Connecticut State Crime Laboratory in utilizing the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) to analyze ballistics evidence.
This matter is being prosecuted in the District of Connecticut by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Peter Markle and Jocelyn Kaoutzanis. A related case in the District of Maine is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel Casey.
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
District of Connecticut