Alleged Jersey City gang member charged with murder

Newark man faces life in prison if convicted

Phillip Wiggins, Jr., is charged with the March, 2020, murder of Damone Smith, 25.
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Phillip Wiggins, Jr., is charged with the March, 2020, murder of Damone Smith, 25.

Phillip Wiggins Jr., 24, of Newark, an alleged member of a Jersey City gang, has been charged with the March 31, 2020, murder of Damone Smith, 25, of Jersey City, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael Honig announced.

Wiggins 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 by use of a firearm.

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

According to court documents, those associated with the Wilkinson Enterprise historically include members and associates of both the Bloods and Crips gangs, including the Grape Street Crips; they often wear the color purple.

They refer to themselves as the “Nuski Gang,” in homage to an alleged member who was killed in August, 2016.

Court documents state that the gang is known for violence against rival, Jersey City-based neighborhood gangs, including the Marion Gardens gang that operates out of the Marion Gardens Housing Complex, historically associated with the  “Brim” and “Sex, Money, Murder” subsets of the Bloods; Rutgers, comprised of individuals associated with the areas of Rose Avenue and McAdoo Avenue and Triangle Park, historically associated with the 52 Hoover subset of the Crips; and individuals associated with the Curries Woods gang, also historically associated with the 52 Hoover subset of the Crips, operating within the Curries Woods Housing Projects.

The Wilkinson Enterprise is aligned with individuals associated with the Salem Lafayette Apartments, who use the abbreviation “SaLaf,” and who operate in the area of Bramhall Avenue to Forrest Street between Ocean Avenue and Martin Luther King Drive.

March murder

According to court documents, on March 31, 2020, Wiggins traveled to an area controlled by the rival Rutgers gang with which Wilkinson was feuding, and allegedly murdered 25-year-old Damone Smith.

Smith sustained gunshot wound(s) to the upper body and was pronounced dead at approximately 2:15 a.m. on April 1 at Jersey City Medical Center.

Documents state that surveillance footage captured events leading up to and including the homicide that allegedly “revealed that Wiggins was the individual who shot Victim-I.“

At the time of his arrest, law enforcement found a pair of sneakers that matched those worn by the shooter, allegedly from Wiggins’s home. His social media account revealed numerous photographs of Wiggins wearing clothes “similar or identical to that worn by the shooter.”

“Less than 24 hours after the murder of Victim-I, Wiggins posted to the [social media] account an article from a local media outlet detailing the circumstances of the murder,” states the complaint. “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.”

Facing life in prison

Wiggins made his initial appearance by videoconference before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael Hammer and was detained without bail.

He 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. The count of discharging a firearm during an act of violence carries a potential mandatory consecutive sentence of 10 years in prison.

Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the Jersey City Police Department, and special agents of the FBI, with the investigation leading to the charges.

The investigation was conducted as part of the Jersey City Violent Crime Initiative (VCI) which was formed in 2018 for the sole purpose of combatting violent crime in and around Jersey City.

The VCI is composed of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, the ATF, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) New Jersey Division, the U.S. Marshals, the Jersey City Police Department, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office, the Hudson County Sheriff’s Office, New Jersey State Parole, the Hudson County Jail, and the New Jersey State Police Regional Operations and Intelligence Center/Real Time Crime Center.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Francesca Liquori of the Organized Crime and Gangs Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorney Sophie Reiter of the Violent Crime Unit represent the government in this case.

The charges and allegations contained in the complaint are merely accusations. Wiggins is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

For updates on this and other stories check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Marilyn Baer can be reached at Marilynb@hudsonreporter.com.