Federal Jury in Bridgeport Finds 4 Members of Violent Waterbury Gang Guilty.


A federal jury in Bridgeport today found TAHJAY LOVE, also known as “Goon,” 25; ZAEKWON McDANIEL, also known as “Gap” and “Yung Gap,” 25; MALIK BAYON, also known as “Pop” and “Dirt,” 27; and JAMES GRAHAM, also known as “Little Cuz,” 24, guilty of offenses related their participation in the 960 gang, a violent Waterbury street gang.

Today’s announcement was made by Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut; Maureen T. Platt, State’s Attorney for the Waterbury Judicial District; Robert Fuller, Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; James Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge, ATF Boston Field Division; and Waterbury Police Chief Fernando C. Spagnolo.

In an effort to address drug trafficking and related violence in Waterbury, the FBI, ATF, and Waterbury Police have been investigating multiple Waterbury-based groups, including the 960 gang. On September 14, 2021, a federal grand jury in Hartford returned a 36-count indictment charging 960 members Love, McDaniel, Bayon, and Graham, and 12 other alleged gang members, with racketeering, narcotics trafficking, firearm possession, murder, attempted murder and assault, and obstruction of justice offenses.

According to the evidence presented during the trial:

On October 31, 2017, 960 members were involved in a drive-by shooting in the area of Porter Street and Bank Street in Waterbury in an attempt to murder members of a rival gang. An individual was shot and wounded in the shooting. Investigators recovered 17 shell casings from four different firearms at the scene, and also identified the car used by the assailants. McDaniel’s DNA was found on the steering wheel of the car.
On November 22, 2017, McDaniel, Bayon, and Love shot at Clarence Lewis and Antonio Santos who were in a car at a restaurant in Waterbury. Lewis sped from the scene at a high-rate of speed and crashed into a house at the intersection of Wolcott Street and Dallas Avenue in Waterbury. Lewis, 22, and Santos, 20, were pronounced dead at the scene. Shell casings connected two of firearms used during the shooting to the shooting that occurred on October 31, 2017, and McDaniel’s DNA was found on a gun magazine that was dropped at the restaurant.
On December 29, 2017, shortly before 9:00 p.m., McDaniel shot and injured the father of a rival gang member who was taking out the trash in front of his residence. 960 members videoed themselves wearing masks at the scene minutes before the shooting.
On October 19, 2019, Love and Graham, who were incarcerated in state custody, assaulted another inmate who they believed had reported to law enforcement Love’s admitted role in the November 22, 2017, shooting that resulted in the deaths of Clarence Lewis and Antonio Santos.
The jury found Love, McDaniel, and Bayon guilty of conspiracy to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity with special circumstances that they killed Clarence Lewis and Antonio Santos in the course of a single event, murder in violation of the Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering (“VCAR”) statute, and two counts of causing death through the use of a firearm and in relation to a crime of violence. The jury also found McDaniel guilty of attempted murder and assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering, and carrying and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence; Love and Graham guilty of obstruction of justice; and Bayon guilty of conspiracy to distribute 100 grams or more of heroin and 40 grams or more of fentanyl, possession with intent to distribute narcotics, unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon, and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense.

At sentencing, which is not scheduled, Love, McDaniel, and Bayon face a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment, and Graham faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years.

“We thank the jury for its thoughtful analysis of the evidence presented during this lengthy trial,” said U.S. Attorney Avery. “960 gang members murdered and attempted to murder both rival gang members and innocent victims alike. The U.S. Attorney’s office is committed to using federal law enforcement resources to dismantle violent groups in Waterbury and other cities in Connecticut, and prosecute those responsible for the drug trafficking and persistent acts of gun violence that torment the communities in which they operate. I thank the Waterbury State’s Attorney’s Office for its close cooperation in prosecuting this matter, and the FBI, ATF, and Waterbury Police Department for their excellent work and partnership during this long investigation.”

“This case serves as an important illustration of the importance of cooperation and the sharing of information between various federal and state agencies,” said Waterbury State’s Attorney Platt. “We are extremely thankful for the tremendous effort and resources that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has put forward to aid in the prosecution of these serious and violent offenders. I am also very proud and grateful of the hard work, dedication ,and professionalism exhibited by members of the Waterbury State’s Attorney’s Office including Supervisor Assistant State’s Attorney Don Therkildsen, Deputy Assistant State’s Attorney Alex Arroyo, and Inspector Michael Slavin, and the Waterbury Police Department led by Chief Fernando Spagnolo, which led to today’s verdicts.”

This investigation is being conducted by the FBI’s Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force, ATF and Waterbury Police Department, with the assistance of the Watertown Police Department, New Milford Police Department and Connecticut Department of Correction. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Geoffrey M. Stone, John T. Pierpont, Jr. and Natasha M. Freismuth, and Supervisory Assistant State’s Attorney Don E. Therkildesen, Jr. and Deputy Assistant State’s Attorney Alexandra Arroyo of the Waterbury State’s Attorney’s Office, who have been cross-designated as Special Assistant U.S. Attorneys in this matter.

This prosecution is a part of the Justice’s Department’s Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) programs.

PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs and transnational criminal organizations through a prosecutor-led and intelligence-driven approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Additional information about the OCDETF Program can be found at https://www.justice.gov/OCDETF.

Updated February 20, 2024