10 alleged SE gang members are indicted for additional crimes

By Paul Duggan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 11, 2010; B03

Ten alleged members of a Southeast Washington drug gang who have been jailed since March were accused of additional crimes Friday in a new indictment that charges three of them with killing three people, including a government witness.

The defendants, arrested six months ago after a federal grand jury issued the first indictment, were initially charged with drug-and gun-related crimes occurring in the violence-plagued Barry Farm apartment complex last year and this year.

The new federal indictment encompasses crimes dating to 2006, and broadens the case to include racketeering and murder charges.

Three of the men, including the alleged gang leader, Mark Pray, 29, also are accused of killing two men and a woman since 2008. The woman, Crystal Washington, 44, was gunned down at a bus stop April 10, 2009, three days before she was scheduled to testify against Pray and three other people in a different case in D.C. Superior Court, authorities said.

"There's nothing more offensive to law enforcement than someone who would have the audacity to target someone who was just trying to cooperate with the judicial system," D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said in announcing the new indictment.

As for the other victims, Jheryl Hodge, 20, was shot to death in a courtyard at Barry Farm on Jan. 13, and Van Johnson, 28, was fatally shot in Prince George's County on Sept. 24, 2008, according to police. All the killings were connected to crack and PCP trafficking by the gang in the Barry Farm area, Lanier said.

Pray and an alleged associate, Alonzo Marlow, 30, were charged in Washington's and Hodge's deaths, and Pray and another associate, Kenneth Benbow, 30, were charged in Johnson's killing, the U.S attorney's office in the District said.

The indictment, issued in U.S. District Court, accuses the three of committing murder in aid of racketeering, which is punishable by life in prison or the federal death penalty. Authorities have not decided yet whether to seek capital punishment.

Pray, Benbow, Marlow and the seven other defendants also were charged with additional firearms and drug offenses.

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