02/07/2018 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 02/09/2018 11:34
BUFFALO, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy announced today that Jeffrey Mills, 47, of Buffalo, NY, who was convicted of obstruction of justice, was sentenced to 65 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara.
'Our entire adversarial system of justice is dependent upon the truthful testimony of witnesses in a court of law,' stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. 'However, when the greatest fear perceived by a witness is that such witness will face retaliation in the event that they provide truthful testimony, the entire system breaks down. We cannot and will not allow that to happen. Truth is the voice of justice. Hopefully, this prosecution and today's sentencing sends a loud and clear message to the community that the men and women of my Office, together with our law enforcement partners, will do all that we can to protect the rule of law and to ensure that the truth is never silenced.'
Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan A. Tokash, who handled the case, stated that on May 21, 2015, the defendant provided information to his parole officer, law enforcement officers and a prosecutor regarding two homicides and a robbery/kidnapping. Mills stated that he saw his cousin, Thamud Eldridge, run from the area where Sam Jones, Jr., aka Smokey, was murdered. The night Smokey was killed, Mills said that he was riding a bicycle on Bissell Avenue when he heard gunshots. The defendant then saw his cousin Eldridge run through the 'cut' from Goodyear Avenue to Bissell Avenue, and get into a vehicle that was driven by Kevin Allen and depart the area. Mills also stated that he spoke with an individual who was also on Bissell Avenue and saw Eldridge toss a gun to the individual after the shooting and heard Eldridge ask that individual to 'put that joint up,' meaning to hide the firearm. After the murder, the defendant said Eldridge left Buffalo and traveled to Atlanta, Georgia. After returning to Buffalo, Mills said Eldridge told him that he intended to rob Smokey and 'everything went wrong,' meaning the defendant killed Smokey. The defendant also gave information about other criminal activity committed by Eldridge. At the conclusion of the interview, the prosecutor told the defendant that he would be called as a witness in the trial against his cousin Thamud Eldridge.
On January 6, 2016, the defendant met with the prosecutor and two law enforcement for pretrial preparation at which time he again recounted hearing gunshots and seeing his cousin Eldridge run through the 'cut' from Goodyear Avenue to Bissell Avenue the night Smokey was killed. At the conclusion of the pretrial preparation, the prosecutor once again told Mills he would be called as a trial witness.
On February 3, 2016, the prosecution called the defendant as a witness in United States v. Eldridge, et al. As U.S. Marshals Service deputies escorted Mills into the courtroom, the defendant walked by his cousin Eldridge and winked his eye at Eldridge and then sat on the witness stand. Mills refused to be sworn and told the Court that, 'it wasn't going to happen.' The Judge cautioned the defendant about criminal contempt and Mills was assigned counsel.
The following day, on February 4, 2016, the defendant took the stand again and agreed to take the oath. The prosecutor questioned Mills regarding the murder of Smokey but the defendant stated he could not remember. When confronted with information he previously gave, Mills testified falsely and feigned memory loss by repeatedly stating that he said he did not recall, did not remember and that he had no recollection of that day. The defendant willfully answered questions this way to impede the due administration of justice.
Today's sentencing is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin P. Lyons; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Ashan Benedict; and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, under the direction of Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci.