Ex-Bartram Village gang member sentenced to 15 years

Posted: April 04, 2014

FOR ABOUT six years, Omar Roane hung with the Harlem Boys, a violent drug gang that terrorized Southwest Philly's Bartram Village public-housing project, where he lived.

He participated in shootings, beatings of rival drug dealers, assaults on random victims and a carjacking.

In a 73-count indictment unsealed in October 2010, Roane and 16 others were accused of racketeering, selling drugs, gun violence and assault. Three defendants were later charged in a superseding indictment.

Since his indictment by the feds, Roane has cooperated extensively, earning himself a much lighter sentence than he normally would have received.

Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel sentenced Roane, 25, to 15 years behind bars - a substantial difference from his guideline range of 65 years to life.

"There was this lawless atmosphere in Bartram Village, which made the investigation difficult," Stengel said. People didn't want to talk to police. Roane's cooperation helped authorities figure out "who was responsible for what act," the judge said.

Still, the judge noted, his sentence was going to be lengthy.

Roane pleaded guilty in March 2012 to participating in a racketeering enterprise, conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine and marijuana, carjacking, gun crimes, assault and related offenses.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Salvatore Astolfi praised Roane's decision to turn his back on his past life of crime, but also noted that the drug gang left numerous victims in its wake.

In one case that Astolfi mentioned in court, Roane and others shot up a car parked across from Bartram Village. They thought a rival drug dealer was inside. But it was a man who was just waiting to pick up his girlfriend. Luckily, the man was not hit.

Defense attorney Carina Laguzzi said Roane was high on drugs at the time of his offenses.

Roane first made headlines in August 2010 after he was arrested on a murder charge and escaped from a law-enforcement van in Northeast Philadelphia, on the way to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility. He was caught a few days later in Harrisburg.

The murder was the 2009 shooting death of Kyree Young, 17, during an attempted robbery. Roane had served as a lookout, Laguzzi said. Roane cooperated with state authorities, pleaded guilty to third-degree murder and was sentenced to eight to 16 years in that case.

Stengel yesterday said Roane's federal sentence will be concurrent with his state sentence. He also ordered Roane to serve 10 years of supervised release afterward.

The Harlem Boys gang operated from 2001 to 2010. The judge noted that cops had responded to 118 shootings in Bartram Village from 2008 to 2010. But from October 2010 to late last year, they only needed to respond to three shootings, all of which were domestic disputes.

Roane was the 13th of the 20 defendants to be sentenced.

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