Christopher “Essay” Acevedo, 28, the founder and leader of the Wood City gang, was convicted by a federal jury in May after a two-week trial. The jury returned the guilty verdict after just 20 minutes of deliberation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.
Since at least 2010, the Wood City gang has engaged in racketeering activity, including murder, drug trafficking and various forms of fraud and identity theft, according to federal prosecutors. Acevedo started the gang, which was so named because many of its members lived around Woodhull Avenue in Jamaica Estates.
Since at least 2011, Wood City has been involved in a war with rival “Snow Gang,” another violent gang based in southeast Queens. During this period, members of Wood City and Snow Gang would regularly taunt and insult each other using social media platforms and phone calls, prosecutors said.
On Aug. 26, 2019, members of Snow Gang, including one of its leaders, David Hutchinson, robbed a gold “YTB” chain from a high-ranking member of Wood City while he was at a Hillside recording studio in Queens, prosecutors said. Shortly after the robbery, Hutchinson posted a photo of himself wearing the YTB chain on social media. As a leader of Wood City, Acevedo was expected to retaliate for the chain-snatching to protect his gang’s reputation. Acevedo and other Wood City members drove to Snow Gang territory and spotted a vehicle with Hutchinson behind the wheel. After following that vehicle to the front of Garden’s Deli,located at 140-14 Springfield Blvd., Acevedo pulled alongside the vehicle and fired a dozen shots, killing Hutchinson, according to prosecutors. The murder occurred in broad daylight outside the bodega that was filled with civilians.
“Christopher Acevedo showed his indifference for human life when he murdered David Hutchinson in broad daylight over a petty gang dispute, in order to maintain and burnish his status as the leader of a violent street gang whose members felt insulted by the taking of a piece of jewelry,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. “Yesterday’s sentence of life imprisonment demonstrates the heinousness of Acevedo’s crime and sends a message that gun violence has no place in our society.”
Acevedo by United States District Judge Diane Gujarati to two terms of life imprisonment to run concurrently, for murder in aid of racketeering and causing death through the use of a firearm.