Ralph Greer Jr. had a heavy shipment of dope in the truck of his car. It was 1995, more than 15 years before he would begin mediating conflicts at the Redfern Houses in Far Rockaway. Back in these days he was the top lieutenant for the Seven Crowns gang. And on this day, he had to make a drop-off.
He knew the law had been watching him. He’d caught unmarked cars tailing him about a dozen times before. Slipped away each time, he remembers. One time, he heard on the car radio that police had scooped up a group of his guys. Then he checked his rear-view mirror and swore a sedan was following him. He zoomed onto the Expressway, accelerating and weaving, but not speeding. Quickly, hit hit an exit and lost them.
So Greer had been on high alert. The authorities were tightening their grip. From Seven Crowns’ Jamaica, Queens homebase, the gang ran a multi-state, multi-million dollar drug empire. At the top of the ladder was Anthony “Pretty Tony” Feurtado. The kingpin’s two younger brothers, Lance and Todd, were the crew’s other top bosses. And Greer was their right hand man.
He did much of the dirty work–he handled the money, the drugs, and the security. Everyday on the job held risk.
But this day in 1995 felt normal, relatively speaking. He parked his car, pulled the product from the trunk, and walked into a nearby storefront. He met with the distributor and made the transaction. Then he left.
Seconds after exiting… “They came 50 deep on me,” he recalls. “Guns drawn.”
Dozens of police officers rushed toward him. Don’t move!
“They had me surrounded,” he says. “Guns pointing in my face.”
That was the end of Greer’s career as a hustler. He spent nine years in prison. He had a daughter and decided that he wanted her to grow up with a present father. After leaving prison he founded a non-profit and took a job overseeing NYCHA’s summer- and after-school programs.
In 2011, Lance and Todd, also on the positive path following their prison terms, asked Greer join their Snug program, the anti-violence initiative we detailed in this week’s feature story The Gang War That Wasn’t.
The gang was back together.
Send story tips to the author, Albert Samaha