York killer to get 25 years for Southside gang conspiracy

Liz Evans Scolforo

A York City murderer currently serving 15 to 40 years in state prison for a 2012 slaying is expected to be sentenced to 25 years in federal prison for his Southside gang activity.

This Southside gang graffiti taunted law enforcement, but a joint investigation into Southside that led to federal indictments against 21 purported gang members disproved that taunting claim.
(Photo courtesy of the U.S. Attorney's Office)

Richard Larry Nolden Jr., 25, appeared in Harrisburg's federal court Monday morning and submitted his proposed plea agreement to the offense of conspiracy to commit racketeering, defense attorney Gerald Lord confirmed.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson said he will recommend to presiding U.S. District Judge Yvette Kane that she accept the plea agreement, according to Lord.

"The sentence he will be receiving will be a flat 25-year sentence," Lord said, and it will run concurrently with Nolden's state prison sentence for third-degree murder.

Richard Nolden Jr.

Nolden will be the last person among 21 co-defendants to resolve his Southside racketeering case, according to a news release from Dawn Mayko, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg.

A massive two-year probe into Southside gang activity by York City Police, federal prosecutors and federal agencies including the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives led to federal indictments against the 21 purported gang members.

Officials have said Southside members and associates used fear, intimidation, retaliation, violence and threats to protect the gang's territory and its criminal enterprise — drug trafficking, primarily.

How York City crippled a criminal empire

Two-month trial: A federal jury in Harrisburg on Nov. 16 convicted 12 purported Southside gang members of offenses including racketeering and drug trafficking, following a 7½-week trial. Eight others pleaded guilty before trial.

Police said street gangs use graffiti to mark their turf and to intimidate neighbors from speaking with police about gang activity.
(Photo courtesy of York City Police)

Marc "Marky D" Hernandez and Rolando "Mico" Cruz were the primary leaders of the gang, Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Consiglio told jurors at trial. Both were convicted of racketeering conspiracy, drug-trafficking conspiracy, drug possession with intent to deliver and two counts of possession of firearms in furtherance of drug trafficking.

One of the eight men who pleaded guilty was James "Doocs" Abney, who authorities say was one of the leaders and main enforcers of the Southside gang.

York City's police chief says another gang will be subject of federal probe

All 21 co-defendants are current or former members of Southside, which operates in the southeastern portion of York City, according to their federal indictments, handed down in September 2014.
At the time, 15 of them were serving state or county prison sentences, officials have said.

Murder case: In May 2013, Nolden was sentenced to 15 to 40 years in state prison for the Jan. 23, 2012, third-degree murder of 22-year-old Sharrod Snellings. Snellings' namesake son was just 3 months old when his father was fatally shot at the corner of North Queen and East Philadelphia streets.

Nolden admitted killing Snellings but never explained why in open court. His co-defendant, O'Brian Sipe Sr., said Snellings and Jevaughn Murphy blamed him for a robbery he says he didn't commit.

Murder victim Sharrod Snellings had photos taken with his namesake son shortly before Snellings was gunned down in 2012.

"We had an altercation with them," Sipe told a judge when he pleaded guilty. "They shot, we shot. We were going back and forth with it (over a period of time). We just kept going back and forth."

York City Police said Nolden drove past the corner in an SUV and fired about seven bullets, hitting Snellings repeatedly.

Sipe was in the SUV with Nolden and fired at Murphy. Sipe is serving 10 to 20 years for attempted first-degree murder.

'Justice won't help': Nolden, during his sentencing hearing, turned to Snellings' family and told them, "Justice won't help — forgiveness will. Please don't judge me." He then apologized to the loved ones of his victim.

Nolden's federal defense attorney said he believes Nolden is a good person and expects him to be a model prisoner.

"You're not defined by the acts you've pleaded guilty to," Lord said. Nolden has "meditated deeply" about his crimes and has come to terms with his own failings, according to Lord.

"That's not to say he's at peace with what happened to (Snellings)," the attorney said. "His goal is to be the best person he can be."

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com.