A federal jury convicted a Calverton man Tuesday on charges of murder, forcible rape, sex trafficking, firearms offenses, narcotics possession and distribution and witness tampering in connection to a shooting outside of a nightclub in 2017.
During the four-week trial in Central Islip, prosecutors said Lawrence Lewis, a 38-year-old alleged Bloods gang member, shot and killed a rival gang member while he was posing for photos inside of the Illusions Gentlemen’s Club in Deer Park on July 29, 2017.
Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Lewis, who was also known as “L Boogs” later texted close acquaintances about the murder, stating that he was “sleeping good” and would “do it again.”
“Lewis’s conviction today ensures that he will never again be able to terrorize our community with his senseless acts of gang-related violence,” United States Attorney for the Eastern District Breon Peace said in a statement commending prosecutors, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office, special agents and law enforcement officials who worked to hold Mr. Lewis accountable.
Officials said Mr. Lewis possessed a large number of firearms, including an AR-15 assault rifle, pistol-grip 12-gauge shotgun, a Mossberg .22-caliber rifle and a Ruger .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol in order to protect a supply of cocaine and heroin he distributed throughout Suffolk County between April 2004 and June 2019.
In 2014, prosecutors said Mr. Lewis forced a woman into prostitution as retaliation for theft of guns until she repaid her debt to him and during that time forcibly raped her.
He also reportedly made efforts to prevent witnesses from testifying against him before the trial by threatening them.
This trial was the second held for Mr. Lewis.
In November 2019, his first trial came to an abrupt halt after prosecutors alleged that Mr. Lewis’ attorney, Christopher Cassar of Huntington, sent a text message to a prosecution witness who was about to give testimony at trial, according to court records.
Prosecutors said Mr. Cassar sent the witness, who is a friend of the defendant, a text message with a link to a New York Post article about a police officer who accidentally shot himself in the groin. The defense in the case had advanced a theory that John Birt, the victim in the July 29, 2017 murder outside Illusions, accidentally shot himself.
Judge Joanna Seybert disqualified the attorney from the case and declared a mistrial.
Illusions was later renamed Secrets and is now permanently closed after its liquor license was revoked for violating social distancing mandates during the height of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, according to reports. The club was also the scene of a separate fatal gang-related shooting in 2015.
“With extreme violence and indifference to human life, Lawrence Lewis with the Bloods street gang reigned terror over neighborhoods in Suffolk County, Long Island for over a decade,” said Ricky Patel, an acting special agent in charge of homeland security investigations in New York. “With today’s verdict finding Lewis guilty of heinous crimes to include murder, rape, and sex trafficking, a clear message has been sent to these violent gang members that they will be held accountable for their actions.”
Sentencing is set for 10 a.m. April 1, 2022 before Judge Seybert. Mr. Lewis is facing a mandatory penalty of life in prison for the murder.