The Department of Justice says one of its own “repeatedly” helped the Bloods street gang protect its interests by identifying and exposing informants and cooperating witnesses.
Tawanna Hilliard works in an administrative role for the US Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, court documents say. According to the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, over a period of more than two years, Hilliard used her access to information to help her son Tyquan Hilliard, 28, and his gang, the 5-9 Brims set of the Bloods.
Authorities have charged the Hilliards with six felony counts: witness tampering and harassment, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to tamper with a witness. Each carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence.
Tawanna Hilliard is also charged with illegally obtaining information from a protected government computer.
The Hilliards’ lawyer has not responded to a request for comment.
Court records show that Tawanna Hilliard pleaded not guilty to the charges and is out on $75,000 bail. Tyquan Hilliard has not yet be arraigned on the charges; he’s currently in a New York state prison serving the remainder of an 11-year sentence for robbery and assault.
The indictment says that the crimes began in 2016, when “a high-ranking member” of the gang told Hilliard to use her access at work to determine whether people were cooperating with law enforcement.
Officials found out about it only because Tawanna Hilliard called Tyquan Hilliard while he was serving a six-year sentence in a New York state prison for possession of a loaded firearm, according to court documents. Prison phone calls are recorded and monitored.
Tawanna Hilliard is also accused of looking up information on the gang member who allegedly told her to report back on informants. In another prison call, the mother and son discussed other gang members who would “use violence” against that “high-ranking member,” the documents say. Tyquan was irritated that the member involved his mother.
The district attorney also says that after Tyquan’s release from prison, when he was arrested in connection with a store robbery, his mother tried to intimidate accomplices who had confessed.
Two individuals named in court documents as “John Doe” and “Jane Doe” told police that they participated in the robbery on May 11, 2018, in Monticello, New York. John Doe said he helped Tyquan Hilliard rob the store, according to court documents, and Jane Doe confessed to driving the getaway car.
But John Doe also told authorities about Tyquan Hilliard’s position in the gang, other members of the Bloods and said he had information about other crimes.
When authorities shared videos of those confessions with the defense during the robbery trial’s discovery phase, Tyquan Hilliard allegedly described them as “ammunition” and instructed his mother to upload those copies to YouTube. Court documents say she uploaded John Doe’s video with the title “NYC Brim Gang Member Snitching Pt. 1”; she is accused of only facilitating the posting of Jane Doe’s video.
Tyquan Hilliard also is alleged to have sent letters to the FBI and a district attorney in which he threatened to upload more videos of John Doe’s confessions. The court documents say that both Jane and John Doe – and John Doe’s family – received threats after the videos were uploaded.
Tyquan Hilliard was found guilty of the robbery, as well as assault, and is serving time in prison for the crimes.