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Indictments filed against gang members responsible for overdose death of two men: sources


Criminal charges have been filed against six gang members responsible for the deaths of two men drugged with a deadly fentanyl cocktail and robbed last year, police sources said on Saturday.

Warrants for their arrest were issued after a Manhattan grand jury on Thursday returned murder charges against three of the gang members. All six face charges of robbery, grand theft and conspiracy, a source with knowledge of the case said.

Detectives linked the six suspects to the deaths of Julio Ramirez and John Umberger, who were attacked after leaving gay nightspots in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen last year, police said.

“It was an answer to our prayers and we are grateful,” Umberger’s mother, Linda Clary, told the Daily News. “But the streets are still not safe as these are lifelong criminals.”

Ramirez and Umberger were among at least seven people who died of overdoses after the robbers gave them narcotics laced with fentanyl and other deadly drugs, police said.

On Friday, renowned Lower East Side fashion designer Kathryn Marie Gallagher, who died last July, was added to the list of city residents who died of drug overdoses given to them by criminals who later robbed them. No further details about Gallagher’s case were immediately released.

Katie Gallagher poses for a photo backstage at the Katie Gallagher presentation during the Spring 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week on September 6, 2012 in New York City.

It was not clear if the six who killed Ramirez and Umberger are related to Gallagher’s death. It is suspected that another robbery team using a similar modus operandi could be responsible, the sources said.

The city medical examiner determined earlier this month that Ramirez, 25, and Umberger, 33, died of “acute intoxication” from a mixture of fentanyl, cocaine, ethanol and other drugs. Both men were victims of homicides caused by “drug-facilitated robberies,” a spokeswoman for the city’s Medical Examiner said.

Umberger, a political consultant and Washington, DC resident, was found dead on June 1 in an Upper East Side apartment where he was staying. He died after visiting Q, a Hell’s Kitchen nightclub. Authorities initially regarded Umberger’s death as a mere drug overdose, but later changed their minds, prompted in part by the discovery that money had been taken from his accounts.

New York nightlife

Ramirez, a Brooklyn resident employed as a social worker, was found unconscious in the backseat of a cab on the Lower East Side early on April 21 after visiting the Ritz Bar and Lounge on W. 46th St.

Police said at least 16 people, mostly men, were drugged and robbed in Manhattan between Sept. 19, 2021, and Aug. 14. About half of them overdosed on the powerful and toxic drugs.

Robbers attack victims as they leave Manhattan bars and offer them drugs or drug-laced cigarettes.

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When the victim falls unconscious from the drugs, the robbers take their cell phones. They then use the cash transfer apps on the victims’ phones to empty their accounts.

NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig speaks during a news conference at NYPD Headquarters on March 9, 2023 in Manhattan, New York.

“This is solely based on monetary gain,” NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig said in November while warning people about the robbery scam. Several different crews are responsible for the thefts, but virtually all use the same methods, he said.

Though he had died on July 24, the city’s medical examiner determined this week that Gallagher, whose A-list clients included Lady Gaga, model Chrissy Teigen and actress Laverne Cox, died of “acute poisoning” from a mixture of fentanyl, cocaine and ethanol, the same drugs that killed Umberger and Ramirez.

The Pennsylvania native was working on a fall 2022 collection when she died, and was “an internationally recognized fashion designer,” according to his obituary online.

Katie Gallagher grooms models backstage at the Katie Gallagher presentation during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2013 on September 6, 2012 in New York City.

“Over the past eight months, we have been proactively working with the NYPD, the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office and the Manhattan District Attorney to get answers about Katie’s sudden death,” he said. Gallagher’s family in a statement Friday. “We realize that the news released today, while difficult, is a necessary next step in seeking justice for Katie, which is our primary goal.

“Sharing this news helps us to set the record straight, demand accountability and grieve more openly,” the family said. “We are grateful for any development that will help us move forward, focus on Katie’s life and legacy, and raise more awareness about fentanyl and similar drugs being used as weapons against innocent people.”

As of November, four suspects have been arrested in these narcotics-assisted robberies, police said, though no arrests have been made in the deaths of Umberger, Ramirez and Gallagher.

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