In a significant development, Eddie Ashley, a suspect in a drug-induced robbery scheme responsible for the deaths of two gay men in New York City last year, has pleaded guilty to multiple charges, including robbery, grand larceny, and identity theft. The Manhattan district attorney’s office confirmed this plea, marking a crucial step towards justice for the victims.
The charges against Ashley, aged 30, are associated with four separate incidents, one of which was part of a citywide scheme that affected at least 16 victims between September 2021 and August 2022. Tragically, this scheme resulted in the deaths of social worker Julio Ramirez, 25, and political consultant John Umberger, 34.
Ashley, who had previously pleaded not guilty, reversed his plea to guilty during his recent court appearance. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg emphasized the importance of ensuring safety in the city’s vibrant nightlife and declared, “This multi-year prison sentence makes clear we will not tolerate this type of dangerous conduct.”
Ashley’s attorney, Terrence J. Grifferty, confirmed the guilty plea and disclosed that Ashley is expected to receive a nine-year prison sentence on November 20. Ashley is currently held in New York City’s Rikers Island jail complex. Linda Clary, John Umberger’s mother, expressed her gratitude for Ashley’s acknowledgment of guilt and her hope for justice for everyone involved.
This case has also seen charges against five other men—Jayqwan Hamilton, Robert Demaio, Jacob Barroso, Andre Butts, and Shane Hoskins. Murder charges have been filed against the first three. Prosecutors allege that the suspects drugged the victims, used facial recognition technology to unlock their cellphones while incapacitated, and subsequently robbed them. All five men have pleaded not guilty and are awaiting trial in police custody.
In a separate yet similar case, prosecutors indicted Kenwood Allen and Sean Shirley in June, connecting them to a drugging, robbery, and larceny spree that affected 21 victims in New York City and led to the deaths of five individuals from March to December 2022. Both Allen and Shirley have pleaded not guilty to all charges. The victims in the second crime ring include Sadath Ahmed, Ardijan Berisha, Katie Gallagher, Alexander Rudnitsky, and Nurbo Shera.
This development marks a significant step toward achieving justice for the victims of these tragic incidents, highlighting the importance of upholding safety and security for all individuals, including the LGBTQ+ community, in the city.