A 25-year-old man described as an “enforcer” for a violent Baltimore gang admitted to taking part in four fatal shootings and three attempted murders as he pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy charge Wednesday, the latest member of the group to admit guilt as a trial date nears.
Correy Cawthorn had been accused of even more violence as part of his role in the CCC gang, but the plea reflected negotiations between federal prosecutors and his defense attorney.
“There were several iterations [of the plea agreement’s factual stipulations],” said defense attorney Anthony Martin. “This is the final iteration.”
Prosecutors agreed not to ask for more than 35 years in prison. Maryland’s Chief District Judge James K. Bredar is not bound by the agreement, and could impose the maximum sentence of up to life in prison. Sentencing was scheduled for Jan. 4.
Federal authorities have claimed the CCC gang — which stands for Cruddy Conniving Crutballs — was behind 18 killings and 28 attempted killings between 2015 and 2020. Though based in the Darley Park area of East Baltimore, the alleged crimes took place all over Baltimore.
Baltimore Police have said previously they formed a task force to go after Cawthorn, who was originally charged in a federal drug conspiracy indictment in 2019 and was mistakenly released from custody and went on the lam for two months.
Cawthorn taunted federal authorities on social media until his capture.
“Feds want me so bad but they don’t have a clue,” he wrote in a social media post, accompanied by footage of him dancing. “THEY LOST.”
With the help of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the case would grow over the next three years to chronicle the most violence of any single indictment in recent memory.
Of the 29 listed defendants, all but one have now pleaded guilty. Another, CCC’s alleged founder Gary Creek, took his own life after fleeing prosecution.
In addition to Cawthorn, over the past month five other members — Jawaun Harris, Tyeshawn Rivers, Wayne Gilliam, Desean Johnson, Darien Coleman and Devin Mitchell — have pleaded guilty, while two more, Raekwon McMann and Darell Carter, have scheduled re-arraignment hearings to change their not guilty pleas.
The remaining defendant, Desmond Butler, is tentatively slated to go to trial next month.
The stiffest sentence so far has gone to Rashaud Nesmith, who beyond his ties to CCC was charged in a separate federal indictment with killing three people and taking part in the shooting of off-duty Baltimore Police Sgt. Isaac Carrington during a series of carjackings. Nesmith received 40 years.
Federal authorities said Creek formed the organization in 2014 as an alternative to the Black Guerrilla Family gang, and took on contract killings and encouraged members to enhance their status in the gang by carrying out violence against rivals.
The indictment described Cawthorn as a “lieutenant” in the organization, and some of the violence was said to be motivated by a desire to avenge the killing of his father.
“We really beefin with the whole world, yo,” Cawthorn said in a message sent to other members, according to the indictment.
Fellow members seemed at the time to invite the prospect of a federal indictment. “[Authorities] keep sending us to the state when we 2 federal,” wrote member Michael Chester, who pleaded guilty in the case and is serving a 20-year sentence.
In court Wednesday, Cawthorn’s attorney said his client had no previous convictions. He was charged with attempted murder in a Baltimore County shooting in 2018, but that case fell apart because the victim refused to testify, according to court records.
After his capture on the federal drug charges in 2019, a top Baltimore Police commander said: “The city, we believe, will be safer because he is behind bars.”
Cawthorn’s plea agreement includes admitting to taking part in the June 2017 killing of Antonio Griffin, 26, and Tereze Pinkney, 22, and attempted killing of two others who were shot at during a drive-by in the 1200 block of Bonaparte Avenue.
He also admitted to killing 16-year-old Thomas Johnson in the 4100 block of Chesterfield Avenue in August 2017, and to taking part along with others in a shootout in the 1700 block of Durham Street involving rival gang LTMN, during which Devonte “Finley“ Monroe was killed. A gun said to be linked to the killing was recovered from Cawthorn a month later.
He also admitted to taking part in an attempted killing in Baltimore County, in the 3000 block of Lavender Avenue, in August 2018.
The indictment had accused Cawthorn of killing 38-year-old Dwayne Cheeks at a dice game on June 9, 2018, in the 2200 block of Germania Avenue, and taking part in the July 29, 2018 killing of Darius Mason, 22, in the 6100 block of Harford Road.
Those accusations were not included in the guilty plea.