Tony “Little Man” Bryant pleads guilty in Yonkers cabbie slaying

A parole violator admitted his role in a string of violent crimes today, including the shooting death of Yonkers cab driver Pericles Salas during a robbery last summer and the slaying of a Bronx man, Dinall Cleveland, a week earlier.
Tony “Little Man” Bryant, 28, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder  in the fatal shooting of Salas, a 32-year-old cabbie with Mexicana Taxi Service. Salas was shot in the head Aug. 30. His body was found slumped over the steering wheel of his 2001 Mercury livery cab near Jessamine and Ramsey avenues in a middle-class residential neighborhood in Yonkers.
There were no signs of a struggle, and Salas’ wallet was missing, police said.
Bryant also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the killing 69-year-old Cleveland, who was shot dead with the same gun used to kill Salas. Cleveland was fatally shot in the face during a robbery Aug. 24 in the lobby of his apartment building at 4431 Carpenter Ave., in the Wakefield section of the Bronx. Another man pulled the trigger, but Bryant was present.
Information developed by Yonkers detectives investigating the taxi slaying connected Bryant to the Bronx one. Bryant was be prosecuted in Westchester for both slayings under a law allowing for a crime committed within 500 yards of a county border to be prosecuted in either county.
Bryant was arrested Sept. 17 for cocaine possession, which violated his parole. He had been released from state prison in May — three months before the slayings — after serving six years for first-degree attempted assault.
During his allocution, Bryant also admitted that while he was being held at the Westchester County jail, he plotted to have a woman killed at her home. In November, he gave an undercover officer — who he thought was a hired killer — a description of the woman and where to find her so she could be killed.
His last two guilty pleas were for attempts to sell cocaine and to possess cocaine with the intent to sell it.
He will be sentenced to 28 years to life in prison on Nov. 9.

Still in the game

A common refrain about federal law enforcement post-9/11 is that the feds are no longer in the business of fighting the illegal drug trade. It was repeated several times on the greatest television show ever — “The Wire.”  Anti-terrorism and the Wall Street meltdown with its associated financial scandals may indeed have focused the feds’ resources elsewhere. But that  doesn’t mean federal agents and prosecutors aren’t still in the game.

Just ask the 53 Bronx residents charged in six sweeping federal indictments aimed at the crack and heroin trade in two Bronx housing projects. Some 450 federal agents and New York City cops descended upon the Morrisania section of the Bronx this morning to corral more than three dozen of the accused. And the feds used all the weapons at their disposal in the investigation —wiretaps, informants, undercover officers — to build the case that resulted in the execution of 22 search warrants this morning and the seizure of $18,000, four guns, and 1000 bags of heroin.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called a press conference to announce the arrests, the third such news event since he was sworn in last month. The first two were connected to white collar cases.  Read the release issued by Bharara’s office here.

Bronx judge to defendants: dress right!

Apparently, a Bronx judge has had it with the super-casual attire that accused criminals are wearing to court these days. The judge berated a defense lawyer for letting his client dress sloppily and sent the sister of another defendant scrambling for dress pants and a button-down shirt.

Click here to read the post on Gothamist, which has a link to the original Daily News story.

The FBI director defends operations like the Newburgh terror case

It’s likely that the big issue as the case of the so-called Newburgh Four goes forward will be: What was the engine for the alleged plot? Was it self-propelled, as in, the four accused Muslim converts acted on their own with the FBI’s informant merely the investigators’ eyes and ears into the plot to blow up synagogues in the Bronx and military airplanes at an Air National Guard base in New Windsor. Or was it informant-driven, meaning that the FBI’s informant led the four into a plot that would never otherwise have jelled or moved forward.
The actions of the informant and how he was managed by his FBI handlers will be explored if the case goes to trial. The day after the four were arrested, the Iman at the Newburgh mosque where a couple of the accused worshipped said other worshippers complained to him about a man who was offering money to those who would join him in some undertaking. FBI director Robert Mueller III defends the bureau’s practice of using informants at mosques to gather information on other worshippers and clerics in an AP story carried on the web site