The Baltimore rapper known as YGG Tay has been indicted on racketeering conspiracy charges by a federal grand jury and accused of being behind a slew of shootings, including the killing of the mother and sister of a man who had accused him of cooperating with law enforcement.

The federal indictment against the 28-year-old rapper, whose real name is Davante Harrison, and five other men, ties together a number of other seemingly disparate shootings, killings and other events that have played out in the city over the past eight years. It also ties him to the Black Guerrilla Family gang.

Among the men charged is David Warren, 30, who gained notoriety over the years after beating 10 attempted murder charges beginning at age 14. Federal authorities say Harrison contracted with Warren in 2018, bragging at one point on Instagram that he had “just signed the top shooter in the city to a deal.” The indictment says Warren sought to endear himself to Harrison and rise in his inner circle by carrying out violence.

Harrison was one of the best-known rappers in the city, with his music videos garnering millions of views on YouTube. But he was also becoming a target of federal authorities — in 2018, he was publicly accused by a prosecutor during a federal gang trial of offering $20,000 for the murder of a police informant who was later fatally shot. Harrison spoke out to deny the accusations, but was charged in 2019 with unrelated federal drug and gun offenses and is currently serving a 15-year sentence.

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The racketeering charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

John Cox, an attorney who has represented both Harrison and Warren in the past, said he had not seen the indictment and declined to comment.

Harrison took his previous federal charges to trial, with Cox telling a jury that prosecutors had trumped-up evidence against him. He said his client carried a gun as part of his persona as a rapper, and was addicted to drugs.

Harrison himself directly addressed claims he had been involved in violence, telling The Baltimore Sun in 2018: “I don’t want people out there thinking I’m into this stuff. They’re trying to damage my name. I got record labels trying to sign me.”

The new case does not accuse Harrison of masterminding the killing of the informant, Guy Coffey. Instead, prosecutors lay out a series of other cases they say Harrison was behind. While the previous investigations were conducted by the FBI, the lead agency in the new indictment is the ATF, along with Baltimore Police, Baltimore County Police and the FBI.

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The indictment accuses Harrison of partnering with the Black Guerrilla Family around 2014 to supply heroin and cocaine to street-level drug shops. That year, the indictment alleges that he paid a BGF member $10,000 to kill a 21-year-old man named Terrell Jarrett in Pigtown because he owed money for drugs Harrison had provided “on consignment.”

After linking up with Warren, federal prosecutors say Harrison first paid him to target a BGF member who burglarized Harrison’s home in November 2013. After the man was shot, Warren sent a text message that read: “Job √.”

Two months after that, prosecutors say Harrison threatened to retaliate against two members of a rival organization that went on Instagram Live and accused Harrison of cooperating with law enforcement. On the morning of April 4, 2018, Warren and “unindicted co-conspirators” went looking for one of the men, Raytawn Benjamin, at a home on Gorman Avenue, the indictment alleges. It was occupied by Benjamin’s mother, Channette Neal, 42, and her daughter, Justice Allen, 21.

“Not finding [Benjamin] inside the residence, Warren and the unindicted co-conspirators murdered [Neal] and [Allen] with a .357 caliber handgun,” the indictment says. “Harrison later paid Warren for committing the murders.”

Benjamin, who himself was once robbed by members of the Gun Trace Task Force and later called out by Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle, was indicted separately on drug charges by federal prosecutors last week.

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In August 2018, prosecutors say Warren and a man named Wayne Prince sought to kill the second man who had been involved in the Instagram Live video with Benjamin and travelled to a home in the 4500 block of Woodlea Avenue that he owned and which was being renovated. There, Prince fatally shot a construction worker, 27-year-old Bryan Jesse McKemy, the indictment alleges, while a second construction worker was shot and survived. It’s unclear why the construction workers were attacked.

Warren sent text messages to a female associate saying he was “waiting on a bag,” or payment, from Harrison for the shootings, the indictment says.

Warren is currently serving a 15-year state sentence after pleading guilty in 2019 to first-degree assault and a gun charge. The new indictment cites acts of violence for which Warren has been previously acquitted, including the shooting of five people in the Wilson Park neighborhood in 2016 at a Memorial Day cookout.

The indictment describes a March 2021 recorded jail call in which Warren was told that federal investigators were asking questions about him.

“That’s a big one right there,” Warren said. “That’s a big blow, man.”

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The indictment also charges a man named Barak Olds with being part of the conspiracy, and ties up years worth of allegations against him as well. Olds is accused of carrying out shootings at the direction of senior BGF leaders, including the killing of Yasmine Wilson, 20, in July 2019, who was shot while pushing her infant daughter in a stroller. The indictment says she was killed for distributing drugs in the 400 block of N. Rose Street without the permission of the BGF.

Cited in the indictment is a 2015 incident that led to the temporary suspension of the Safe Streets anti-violence program in McElderry Park. Police at the time said that they spotted suspects in an armed robbery and pursued them into the Safe Streets offices in the 2300 block of E. Monument Street. Officers ordered people inside to come out of the building, and Olds and Warren were among those who emerged. The armed robbery victim identified Olds as one of the men who robbed him, the ATF said at the time.

When police searched the office, they said they found a loaded gun, ammunition and drugs. Within eight months, however, city prosecutors dropped all charges, saying they had learned “exculpatory information that called into question the identity of the defendants.”

The new indictment lists the incident as one of the conspiracy’s “overt acts,” describing the Safe Streets location as a “meeting place for BGF members” that was “also used as a stash house for firearms and drugs.” A gun that Warren used to shoot up a candlelight vigil for a deceased rival was found inside, the indictment says, as was heroin that had been stolen seven days earlier.

Like Harrison and Warren, Olds is currently incarcerated after being sentenced earlier this year to three years for a federal gun conviction. Two other men charged in the case, Joshua Duffy and Tyrell Jeffries, were arrested Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

justin.fenton@thebaltimorebanner.com

Justin Fenton is an investigative reporter for the Baltimore Banner. He previously spent 17 years at the Baltimore Sun, covering the criminal justice system. His book, "We Own This City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption," was released by Random House in 2021 and became an HBO miniseries. 

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