Sparta Police nab four burglars

| 15 Feb 2012 | 08:44

High speed chase results in capture of alleged members of 'The James Bond Gang’, By Fran Hardy SPARTA — A routine traffic stop on Mohawk Avenue last Friday evening yielded a lot more than a speeding ticket. When Cpl. William Moyle approached a 2003 black Chevy Trail Blazer he saw four occupants, three of whom he recognized as members of burglary ring known as the James Bond Gang, suspected in a string of home burglaries across northwest New Jersey as well as three break-ins in Sparta last spring. The driver immediately sped away, racing south on Main St. at speeds of over 90 miles per hour. Moyle called for back-up and pursued the vehicle at a normal speed, knowing the unwitting fugitives would pass right in front of the Sparta Police station, and pick up a few more pursuing squad cars along the way. Just south of the Main St. bridge, the fleeing vehicle turned left onto Ceillia Dr., hit a curb and flipped several times landing on its side and trapping the occupants inside. Four suspects were arrested at the scene. Two were slightly injured in the crash and transported to Newton Memorial Hospital for treatment and returned to Sparta Police custody. Over $20,000 in jewelry and other valuables was found in plain view in and around the crashed vehicle. Police later received reports of two burglaries in the area the same evening, one in Jefferson and another on Wordsworth Lane in Sparta. The goods recovered were subsequently identified as items taken from these homes. Arrested were 28-year-old Aasim Boone of Englewood, his 26 year-old brother Akeem Boone, 29 year-old Jerry Montgomery of Teaneck, and 25 year-old Sean Banks, also of Englewood. All four appeared in Superior Court in Newton on Monday and are being held at the Sussex County Jail. Montgomery had been charged in April, along with three other Teaneck men, for burglarizing a Somerset County home. He was out on bail and was arrested again in April along with the Boone brothers when they were found with burglar’s tools by Orangetown N.Y. police after robberies there. All three were out on bail at the time of their Sparta arrest. Superior Court Judge Edward Gannon upped Montgomery’s bail Monday from $30,000 to $100,000. Akeem Boone’s bail was increased from $30,000 to $50,000. Aasim Boone, the alleged driver of the runaway SUV last Friday is being held on $175,000 bail. Banks’ bail is set at $30,000. Before any are allowed to make mail, a hearing must be held to ensure the money was not obtained illegally. Police were ready and waiting After three high-end homes in Sparta were burglarized in March, police held a press conference to inform the public about the incidents and advise them about safety precautions. Sparta Police Communication Officer Sgt. John Paul Beebe said the press conference yielded an example of community policing at its best, as the department was flooded with calls from residents reporting unfamiliar cars or individuals in their neighborhoods. Beebe said many calls didn’t pan out, but some did and were very helpful. He said, “Community policing is law enforcement and the public they serve working together to achieve the common goal of public safety.” Beebe said with reports of license plate numbers from Sparta residents along with cooperative efforts between detectives from Sparta and from other northwest New Jersey towns, identities of several suspects were discovered through a Teaneck rental car company. Beebe said within two weeks of the March break-ins, Sparta detectives knew the identities of the perpetrators. All had previous criminal records and photos and information on each were included in intelligence packets distributed to all Sparta Police patrols, which they carried daily. Even though three of the suspects were subsequently arrested in other towns for similar burglaries, their bails were set too low and they were out on the streets again. So Sparta Police remained on the lookout, vowing that if the gang struck in town again, they would not get away. Beebe said police conducted patrols of high-end areas and remained pro-active and vigilant. He said, “When you combine the intelligence information we had, with the authority of the police to use probable cause for pulling over a vehicle, and put it in the hands of a highly trained 18-year veteran like Cpl. Bill Moyle, someone’s going to end up in an orange jump suit.” Beebe said a lot of people in the community had a hand in apprehending the thieves, saying, “This is a big collar for the whole community. Many people will know the information they called in helped.” What’s next for the crooks? The case is now in the hands of the Sussex County Prosecutor’s office and will be presented before a grand jury. If no plea agreements are reached, the foursome could stand trial in Sussex County Superior Court within a year. But Beebe said these four may only be one team of a much larger group of dozens who are hard core criminals with street-gang affiliations. Although the threat remains that other members of the burglary ring could return to town, the big bust last Friday could make them think twice. The chances of ending up wearing a day-glow orange suit and silver chains appear to be greater in Sparta.

A potential NBA star gone astray
Sean Banks, one of the four arrested in Sparta last week, was not known to police and appears to be new to the James Bond Gang. But he is not new to the street gangs with which the others also have connections.
However, Banks’ story is different from the others. As a 6’ 8 shooting guard, he was in a position to make millions legitimately had he stayed on the path toward what many said could have been a promising future as an NBA player. Banks grew up in Englewood and played basketball for Bergen Catholic. He attended the University of Memphis, where he was named the Conference USA freshman of the year in 2004. But he left Memphis as a sophomore after becoming academically ineligible to play.
He was then signed by the New Orleans Hornets as an undrafted rookie free agent in the summer of 2005, but was waived by the team in January of 2006 because of his alleged street gang affiliations and continual scrapes with the law.
After this he played four seasons on various NBA development leagues and played professional basketball in Puerto Rico. He was considered highly talented but troubled and often seemed to be in the wrong place at the wrong times and with all the wrong people. The negative influences in his life kept pulling him off track and for every bright spot of success he achieved, another pit fall followed.
Banks was said to be frustrated by the low pay the development league players received and believed he could make it in the NBA where he could rake in the bigger bucks. But he could not fully discipline himself, nor shake off his gang connections. The lure of quick and easy money obtained through illegal activities was too great a temptation for Banks to resist. Now Banks’ future is more uncertain than ever and the odds of his someday making it to the NBA are slim.

How did the name James Bond Gang come about?
The recent rash of high-end burglaries committed by well-prepared teams of three or four who case wealthy neighborhoods in rented luxury cars, find unoccupied homes just around dusk, break through front doors, disable alarms, and get in and out with jewelry and cash before police can respond to the alarms, are said to part of a well-known ring known as the James Bond Gang. But the recent perps may only be affiliates, relatives, or even copy cats of the original gang that dates back to the '80s and '90s and netted millions in stolen goods before they were eventually stopped by police.
The first gang is said to have gained their snazzy moniker because of a suped-up, tricked-out red BMW used as the getaway car in numerous burglaries committed by the four founding members.
The Beamer was equipped with James Bond movie-style gizmos to help it elude and confound police. For example, the license plate could swing down revealing bright halogen lights to blind police and prevent them from reading the plate numbers. The car could spew oil from a grease jet near its tail pipe creating a slippery mess for any vehicle in pursuit. It even had a secret compartment that could slide out from under the dashboard to hide any stolen jewels or cash if police did manage to stop the car.
The original James Bond Gang members were friends from Teaneck High School, led by Terrence Lawton and David Kirkland. Lawton owned an auto customizing and detailing shop and was responsible for the tricky red Beamer. The group was so successful they expanded and continually trained new teams. They had a lawyer on retainer and their own jewelry fence in Manhattan that always provided bail if any were arrested.
Most original gang members are serving lengthy prison terms now, but they eluded capture for a number of years. The new incarnation of the James Bond Gang is less sophisticated, and the stolen SUV used in the Sparta heist last week is a far cry from the fancy red BMW used by the originals, but the new gang members are organized, brazen, and have been very successful in their own right. In the nearly 50 burglaries since last spring the thieves are estimated to have made off with over $1 million in stolen property.