Suffolk Homicide detectives on Nov. 18, 2015 investigated the scene of a fatal shooting on Old Quogue Road the night before. Photo: Peter Blasl

A member of a Riverhead-based street gang today pleaded guilty in federal court to racketeering, including conspiring to distribute narcotics and participating in the murder of a man in Riverside in November 2015.

Terrill Latney, 39, of Mastic Beach, an associate of the Red Stone Gorilla “set” of the Bloods street gang based in Riverhead, entered the plea before United States Magistrate Judge A. Kathleen Tomlinson in Central Islip.

As alleged in the indictment and other court filings, Latney participated in the distribution of large quantities of crack cocaine, cocaine and heroin in the Riverhead area for nearly a decade. On Nov. 17, 2015, Latney assisted members of the Bloods in their attempt to kill a rival gang member. Specifically, Latney drove three Bloods members to a location in Riverside where they fired at least 39 shots into a parked car that they erroneously believed was occupied by the rival gang member. In fact, the car was occupied by Thomas Lacolla, 27, of Riverhead, who was killed in the fusillade.

Latney faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

“As a result of the outstanding work by our prosecutors, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Suffolk County East End Drug Task Force, Latney has been held accountable for his role in a large-scale narcotics distribution operation and a senseless act of violence that took a man’s life,” U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement. “We hope today’s guilty plea begins to bring a measure of closure to the victim’s family.”

Other alleged members of the criminal enterprise charged in the same indictment, unsealed in October, remain in custody pending trial, including: the alleged gang leader, Jimmy Dean of Calverton, Roger Foster of Baiting Hollow, Corey Belcher of Riverhead, Willie Belcher of Flanders, and Eric Ross of Flanders. They are next due in court for a status conference on March 12, according to court records.

The government’s case is being handled by the office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Nicole Boeckmann and Michael Maffei are in charge of the prosecution.

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Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.