SCHENECTADY : Gang member gets far less than max
An admitted Four Block gang member who prosecutors tried to rely upon to convict a man of shooting 11- and 18-year-old boys in Schenectady was sentenced Friday to nearly three years in federal prison in the gang case.
Tommie Caldwell, 21, appeared in U.S. District Court in Utica to be sentenced on a federal conspiracy count. He had faced up to 10 years in federal prison, but was sentenced Friday to a total of 33 months.
Officials involved in the case, including Caldwell’s attorney, Cheryl Coleman, could not be reached for comment Friday. But in her sentencing memorandum, Coleman asked for leniency for Caldwell, citing his testimony in the shooting case.
Coleman wrote that there was no indication Caldwell committed or was otherwise responsible for any acts of violence related to the gang case. She described his role in the gang as that of a “low-level purveyor of drugs, largely to support his own habit.”
Kody Pierce, 20, had been accused of being one of two men who shot the brothers in June 2010. He faced numerous charges, including attempted murder and fi rst-degree assault, in the shooting of 11-yearold Nasjarah Pulliam and his 18-year-old brother, Shaune Daniels. Shaune Daniels was shot in the chest and suffered a collapsed lung, while Pulliam was shot in the head. Both survived.
The other alleged shooter, Kirel Prince, 17, pleaded guilty to fi rstdegree assault last week and is to be sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Pierce’s attorney, Mark Gaylord, argued that Caldwell was someone who wasn’t to be trusted and that the entire case hinged on his testimony. No one else directly identified Pierce as even present during the shooting, Gaylord said.
The jury apparently agreed, acquitting Pierce.
Caldwell didn’t come forward until months after the shooting, after he was arrested on an unrelated charge in April 2011. Then, in May 2011, Caldwell was one of 19 swept up in the Four Block federal indictment. Many of his co-defendants in the federal case have pleaded guilty. The remainder are expected to go to trial this summer.
Caldwell‘s involvement put the Schenectady County District Attorney’s Office in the unusual position of having to rely on testimony from a member of a gang it helped take down. The federal Four Block case had been spearheaded by the District Attorney Robert Carney, who had asked federal authorities to investigate.
Caldwell pleaded guilty in the federal case in November.
Prosecutor Peter Willis has said the tragedy of the June 2010 shooting was that there were likely 15 to 20 people on the street that day, but only three talked to police or prosecutors.