Four local men admitted they participated in the 2006 killing of a Vineland man who disrespected a member of their gang.

Almeen Palmer, Quason Blake and Kelsey Smith, all of Atlantic City, and Steven Armstead, of Millville, were charged with murder in December 2006 — 11 months after Leroy Lindsey, 23, was shot dead in the kitchen of his sister’s Vineland apartment.

The men were among 48 people indicted in 2007 as part of Operation Nine Connect, which took down the Nine Trey Gangsters set of the Bloods.

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Antwine Hopewell, an alleged member of the gang, told the four men that he was assaulted by Lindsey, so the four broke into the apartment and shot him twice in the chest as “discipline,” the four admitted in a Trenton Superior Court room. Lindsey had been out of jail for less than a month when he was shot, his mother told The Press of Atlantic City a day after the killing.

“The murder of Leroy Lindsey, who was gunned down for disrespecting a member of the Nine Trey Gangsters, is typical of the senseless violence that was perpetrated by this set of the Bloods street gang in New Jersey,” acting Attorney General John Hoffman said. “As a result of Operation Nine Connect, we have sent over 40 members of this violent gang to state prison for lengthy sentences.”

Palmer, 36, faces 15 years in prison. Armstead and Blake, both 25, face 12 years each. Smith faces 10 years.They all pleaded guilty Friday to racketeering.

They are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 11 before Superior Court Judge Robert Malestein.

“We will continue to partner with the New Jersey State Police and other agencies in wide-ranging investigations targeting the leadership and the most violent members of the criminal syndicates that are terrorizing many of our communities,” said Director Elie Honig of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Through Operation Nine Connect, we have dismantled a vicious criminal syndicate.”

Hopewell was originally charged in the killing, but his charges were eventually downgraded to conspiracy.

One leader of the gang, Michael Smart, 31, of Irvington, was tried in January 2009, convicted and sentenced to 70 years in state prison, including 46 years of parole ineligibility. The other defendants received or face sentences ranging from five to 16 years in state prison.

The Atlantic City Police Department and the Prosecutor’s Offices of Atlantic and Cumberland counties assisted in the case.

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