Earlier today, a federal jury in Brooklyn convicted Ppassim Elder, also known as “Bsam,” “Big Sam” and “Sam,” and Wilbert Bryant, also known as “Will” and “La,” of extortion, bank fraud, firearms and murder offenses. The verdict followed a three-week trial before by United States District Judge William F. Kuntz, II. When sentenced, the defendants face up to life in prison.
Jacquelyn M. Kasulis, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York; Michael J. Driscoll, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI); and Dermot F. Shea, Commissioner, New York City Police Department, announced the verdict.
“With today’s verdict, a jury has held the defendants accountable for their heinous crimes, including the murder of a Queens business owner while attempting to collect a debt they claimed was owed by the victim’s son,” stated Acting United States Attorney Kasulis. “This Office and our law enforcement partners are working tirelessly to protect the communities in our district from violent criminals like the defendants who will now face very serious consequences for their actions.” Ms. Kasulis also expressed her appreciation to the Queens County District Attorney’s Office for their assistance during the investigation and prosecution.
As proven at trial, on the morning of October 23, 2017, Bryant and two other perpetrators walked into Garden Valley Distributors, a family-owned wholesale distribution business located in Ozone Park, Queens. The perpetrators said that “Big Sam” had sent them to collect his money. Earlier that year, Elder, who was known as “Big Sam,” had given the murder victim’s son money, which the son used to support the business. When Elder demanded full repayment, the son was unable to repay the debt because much of the money had been used to purchase merchandise for Garden Valley. Elder then began a campaign of intimidation against the son and his family. On one occasion, Elder paid co-conspirators to throw a rock through a window of the victim’s home. On another, Elder barged into the family home, intimidating members of the victim’s family. Finally, Elder dispatched Bryant and two co-conspirators into Garden Valley business where, on October 23, 2017, the perpetrators brandished a firearm, pistol-whipped the son and fatally shot the father in the face.
In addition to the murder, Elder extorted another person whose brother had stolen the proceeds of a fraud scheme committed by Elder. Although the victim was not involved in the theft, Elder nonetheless punched him in his face in front of his daughters, breaking and bloodying his nose in order to “send a message” to the victim’s brother. Elder and Bryant were also convicted of bank fraud conspiracy for lying to banks about the true owner of certain bank accounts, which permitted Elder to defraud innocent victims across the country, including an elderly man who lost over $30,000 when he was tricked into believing he was purchasing a car and another individual who lost over $150,000 when he was defrauded into believing he was purchasing two real estate properties. Elder was also convicted of crimes committed after his arrest in this case, including stealing his attorney’s identity and lying to federal officials.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. As part of the program, U.S. Attorneys’ Offices work in partnership with federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and their local communities to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Organized Crime and Gangs Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Keith D. Edelman, Genny Ngai and Anna L. Karamigios are in charge of the prosecution.
PPASSIM ELDER (also known as “Bsam,” “Sam” and “Big Sam”)
Staten Island, New York
WILBERT BRYANT (also known as “Will” and “La”)
Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-92 (S-5) (WFK)
Department of Justice
Office of the U.S. Attorney
Eastern District of New York