Taking the lead of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, federal prosecutors in New Jersey are seeking the death penalty for only the second time against a man they say led a violent street gang charged in 2013 with six murders.
Prosecutors on Monday filed formal notice of their intent to seek the death penalty against 30-year-old Farad Roland, according to The Associated Press. He is charged with running the violent South Side Cartel, a subset of the Bloods street gang that prosecutors say was known as "the most violent street gang operating in Newark."
Holder authorized seeking the death penalty against Roland last month, U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said. Federal prosecutors in New Jersey last sought the death penalty in 2007, the same year the state abolished capital punishment for state-level cases.
Roland and two co-defendants have pleaded not guilty to murder, kidnapping, robbery, carjacking and drug conspiracy charges. His co-defendants will not face the death penalty. Roland is scheduled to go on trial next January.
Roland's lawyers weren't immediately available for comment.
Five of the killings make Roland eligible for the death penalty. Prosecutors said if Roland is convicted of any of those five, a jury would then decide whether to sentence him to death or life without the possibility of parole.
Those cases are the December 2003 killing of a rival gang member in a drive-by shooting; the February 2005 killing of a fellow South Side Cartel gang member to keep him from cooperating with authorities and implicating Roland in a crime; the October 2007 killing of a member who prosecutors said "had fallen into disfavor with the gang"; and the March 2008 "retaliation" killings of two people outside a bar.
Details of the sixth killing are not provided.
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