Feds: Jersey City gang member charged with murder in aid of racketeering, two gun crimes

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A Jersey City gang member has been charged with murder in aid of racketeering, as well as two gun crimes, in connection to a fatal shooting that took place last March, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachel Honig announced.

Phillip Wiggins. Photo courtesy of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

Phillip Wiggins Jr., 24, of Newark, is charged by complaint with one count each of murder in aid of racketeering, discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and causing death through use of a firearm, Honig said in a statement.

He made his initial appearance by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Hammer and was detained without bail.

Wiggins is allegedly associated with a street gang known to operate in the area of Wilkinson Avenue, Ocean Avenue, Martin Luther King Drive, and Wegman Parkway in Jersey City.

“[He] was a low-ranking member and associate of the Wilkinson Enterprise,” the criminal complaint says.

“Among other things, Wiggins utilized social media to tout the power of the Enterprise, in an effort to keep victims and rivals in fear of the Enterprise, to post photographs of himself with other members and associates of the Enterprise, and to communicate with other members and associates of the Enterprise.”

On March 31, 2020, Wiggins traveled to an area controlled by a rival gang with which Wilkinson was feuding, and allegedly murdered Victim-1, who law enforcement has previously been identified as 25-year-old Damone Smith.

The criminal complaint also says that The Wilkinson Enterprise is known for violence against rival gangs that include the Marion, comprised of individuals associated with the Marion Gardens Housing Complex.

Conversely, they are aligned with “SaLaf,” a group associated with the Salem Lafayette Apartments, court documents say.

Furthermore, the complaint says the intersection of Rose and Cator Avenues where Smith was killed are frequented by the rival gang Rutgers – who are affiliated with that block – and wrote a social media post that indicated he committed the killing.

“Within a week of the murder, Wiggins also posted to the Account a series of photographs of himself with other Wilkinson Enterprise members, with the caption ‘Kimmy Told Me Go Get em And I Got him’ followed by three emojis,” the criminal complaint notes.

Wiggins faces a potential mandatory life sentence for the murder in aid of racketeering count.

The count of causing death through use of a firearm carries a maximum sentence of life in prison, while the count of discharging a firearm during an act of violence carries a potential mandatory consecutive sentence of 10 years in prison.

Additionally, Honig credited the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the Jersey City Police Department, as well as special agents of the FBI, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The HCPO arrested Wiggins for the murder of Smith in April of last year.

This investigation was conducted as part of the Jersey City Violent Crime Initiative (VCI). The VCI was formed in 2018 by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, and the Jersey City Police Department, for the sole purpose of combatting violent crime in and around Jersey City. As part of this partnership, federal, state, county, and city agencies collaborate to strategize and prioritize the prosecution of violent offenders who endanger the community