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Buffalo man sentenced to 50 years in federal prison following RICO conviction

STAFF REPORTS

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Thamud Eldridge, 44, aka Damu, who was convicted following a seven week jury trial of multiple RICO, drug, and gun charges, was sentenced to serve 50 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.
 
Eldridge was convicted of Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO), RICO conspiracy, narcotics conspiracy, possession of firearm in furtherance of violence and violent crime, kidnapping, and robbery.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph M. Tripi and Meghan A. Tokash, who handled the prosecution of the case, stated Eldridge and co-defendant Kevin Allen were members and associates of a criminal organization which operated on the East Side of Buffalo from 2003 until 2005. The organization was found by the jury to be a violent group of gang members who specialized in targeting and then robbing drug dealers in and around the City of Buffalo, intending to steal their illegal drugs, money, and jewelry. Eldridge, Allen, and their associates were also accused in the indictment of invading victims’ homes, threatening residents at gun point for money and other items of value, and kidnapping drug dealers.
 
One victim who testified for the Government at trial, told the jury that Eldridge and Allen came to his home seeking money and drugs, then forcibly kidnapped him--forcing him into their vehicle with a gun into his neck. They drove the victim to another location in Buffalo where the victim stored his drugs. The dealer said his life was spared only because he was able to give them over a kilogram of cocaine.
 
Another Government witness testified that he was robbed of money at gunpoint in the driveway of his family home.
 
Other victims of a home invasion masterminded by Eldridge testified that their arms and legs were bound with duct tape while they were held at gunpoint--execution style. One victim was handicapped and duct taped to his wheelchair. While Eldridge's associates tried to break into the upper apartment which belonged to a known drug dealer, he casually smoked a cigar. That cigar was collected by crime scene detectives and later tested for DNA which confirmed Eldridge's presence at the crime scene.
 
Victims testified about the terror they experienced--one told the Court she dialed 9-1-1 underneath a couch so Eldridge and his gang members would not detect her attempts at contacting law enforcement. Eldridge and associates escaped before police arrived--only to be caught be his DNA left at the crime scene.
 
Additionally, the members of the enterprise and their associates distributed quantities of cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin and marijuana, and planned conspired, attempted and committed robberies and murders against other rival drug dealers in order to enhance their street credibility on the East Side of Buffalo. 
Kevin Allen was also convicted at trial and is scheduled to be sentenced on September 11, 2018.
The sentencing is the culmination of an investigation on the part of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in- Charge Gary Loeffert, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan Benedict, the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Edward Kennedy, and the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood.