Photos: YouTube Screenshots
Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, announced today the guilty plea of Gina Mestre, a former New York City Police Officer, in connection with her involvement in obstructing a federal investigation into the Shooting Boys gang and serving as an accessory after the fact to a murder committed by the gang’s leader. Mestre pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge Denise Cote.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “As she has now admitted, Gina Mestre, a former NYPD Officer, abused her position of public trust and betrayed the oath she took to protect and serve the citizens of New York City by helping a gang member evade capture for a murder of a rival gang member that he committed in broad daylight. When law enforcement officers break the laws they are sworn to uphold, they do a disservice to their fellow officers, to the departments that employ them, and to the public they serve. My Office will work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to uncover and prosecute such corruption.”
As alleged in the Indictment, other public court documents, and statements made during court proceedings:
Mestre was an NYPD Police Officer from July 2013 to May 2022 and assigned to the 52nd Precinct’s Public Safety Unit. In the summer of 2020, a major focus of the precinct and the Public Safety Unit was the reduction of gun violence, much of which was committed by members of the Shooting Boys gang.
The Shooting Boys gang is a criminal organization based in the University Heights section of the Bronx. Since at least 2017, members of the gang have sold drugs, used guns, and committed numerous acts of violence against rival gang members. The gang’s territory and base of operations fell within the jurisdiction of the NYPD’s 52nd Precinct, where Mestre worked. The leader of the Shooting Boys was Andrew Done, a/k/a “Caballo.”
In or about June 2020, Mestre began communicating with Done through secret social media accounts and phone numbers. Mestre and Done began an intimate relationship, during which Mestre provided Done and other gang members with confidential, non-public law enforcement information about the federal grand jury investigation into the Shooting Boys. For example, Mestre warned Done and other gang members that federal authorities were investigating the gang and preparing to bring a federal indictment. Mestre also warned Done about impending law enforcement operations, enabling Done and other gang members to conceal their criminal activity. In addition, Mestre disclosed the identity of a witness cooperating with law enforcement and providing information about the gang, which allowed Done and other Shooting Boys to assault and intimidate the witness in an effort to prevent the witness from further cooperation.
On November 5, 2020, Done shot and killed a rival gang member as he sat in his car in the Bronx. NYPD Detectives investigating the murder recovered security camera video capturing Done’s commission of the murder. Several members of the 52nd Precinct were called upon to assist in the identification of the person captured on the video. Mestre was one of several officers who identified Done as the perpetrator.
During the manhunt to apprehend Done, of which Mestre was a part, Mestre covertly advised Done that authorities were looking for him and sent Done a copy of the video that showed him committing the murder (thus making clear to Done that the evidence against him was overwhelming). In the days and weeks following the murder, Mestre continued to secretly communicate with Done and warn him about law enforcement’s efforts to capture him, which helped him avoid apprehension and eventually flee the United States. During this time, while authorities were trying to locate Done, Mestre was aware of the cellphone numbers being used by Done, communicated with Done while he used those cellphones, knew that the cellphone numbers could be used by law enforcement to track Done’s location, but failed to share the information regarding Done’s use of the cellphone numbers with other law enforcement officers.
In March 2022, 10 members of the Shooting Boys were charged in a 15-count indictment with various federal crimes, including racketeering conspiracy and murder. Done was charged with the murder of Victim-1 and was apprehended in the Dominican Republic several months later.
On November 17, 2022, Done pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy and admitted to murder. On February 22, 2023, Done was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
Mestre , 33, of Mohegan Lake, New York, pled guilty to one count of accessory after the fact to murder in aid of racketeering, which carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.
The maximum potential sentence in this case is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the judge. Mestre will be sentenced by Judge Cote on March 21, 2024.