James Fair of Asbury Park won’t be going home for Christmas anytime soon. Maybe never.
The 29 year old ringleader of the Bloods criminal street gang was sentenced to 82 years in state prison on Thursday. Judge Joseph W. Oxley ordered that Fair serve 50 years before he becomes eligible for parole.
On September 27, 2017, Fair was found guilty on 78 charges following a summer-long trial, including charges of first degree Conspiracy to Commit Murder, first degree Racketeering Conspiracy, second degree Conspiracy to Commit Robbery, first degree Robbery, weapons offenses, and drug offenses.
The 82-year sentence imposed on Fair also encompassed his guilty plea on November 2nd to second degree Conspiracy to Commit Armed Burglary in connection with the 2009 home invasion murder of Jonelle Melton in Neptune City. Three additional defendants remain pending trial in that homicide case.
“More than five years ago, our Office and the Monmouth law enforcement community initiated more aggressive efforts at fighting violent crime by criminal street gangs operating in the City of Asbury Park,” said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni. “The goal of this new initiative was to target and prosecute the “worst of the worst” criminals who chronically terrorize the City with frequent shootings and gang violence. As part of this strategy, one of several operations called “Operation Dead End” netted 53 arrests in 2014, including several known members of the “Bloods” and “Crips” street gangs in Asbury. Dozens were charged for running an organized criminal enterprise that distributed deadly drugs such as heroin, crack cocaine and synthetic ecstasy; robbery and theft rings; and distributing or possessing illegal firearms that fueled the enterprise,” Gramiccioni said.
The “Operation Dead End” investigation started in the summer of 2013 in conjunction with law enforcement efforts to stem violent street crimes and firearms offenses in Asbury Park. During the investigation, members of the criminal organization and their conspirators based their criminal activities out of two dead end streets in Asbury Park – Dewitt Avenue, and a section of Jersey Street in the Washington Village Public Housing Complex.
“This past summer, three defendants who pleaded not guilty – Keith German, Haneef Walker and James Fair – were convicted on dozens of counts by a jury of their peers. Today, Bloods gang leader James Fair, the organizer of this criminal enterprise, was sentenced to 82 years imprisonment; Crips gang leader Haneef Walker was sentenced yesterday to 47 years imprisonment; and former Asbury Park police officer Keith German was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years imprisonment for tipping off these gang members and others about police activities, stalking and official misconduct. Crips gang leader Altyreek Leonard pleaded guilty to related crimes for his role, and will be sentenced in February 2018. Dozens of other violent, gang-affiliated defendants were issued substantial jail sentences for their role and involvement in the criminal enterprise,” Gramiccioni added.