Two men already charged in state court with shooting Baltimore Police Sgt. Isaac Carrington last year now face a federal grand jury indictment alleging they also participated in a series of armed robberies, carjackings and three murders.
In the indictment, the U.S. Attorney’s Office accused Karon Foster, 26, Rashaud Nesmith, 19, and two other men of belonging to a criminal gang that ran roughshod around the city for months last summer. The indictment builds on earlier federal charges against the men and for the first time alleges at least one other person was with Foster and Nesmith when Carrington was shot.
It is the latest development in the investigation into the group after police arrested and charged Foster and Nesmith in September with shooting Carrington outside of his home in the city’s Frankford neighborhood in August. Carrington was off duty and talking to a neighbor when an Acura pulled up, demanded valuables and then opened fire on Carrington as he and a neighbor fled. Carrington was struck five times and has not returned to duty, police said.
The indictment outlines a string of violent crimes carried out by Foster, Nesmith, Jamai Wells, 30, and Daniel Williams, 29, both of Baltimore. State and federal court records show that the men have been arrested repeatedly on state charges in recent years but managed to avoid jail time in most cases.
All of the murders occurred during attempted robberies or carjackings, prosecutors alleged.
Attorneys for Foster, Nesmith and Wells were not available for comment Thursday. Williams’ attorney declined to comment.
According to the indictment, Foster “and one or more conspirators” shot and killed Taven Lowther during a June 12 carjacking attempt in the city’s Frankford neighborhood. The indictment also charges the group with killing Devon Chavis, a 28-year-old who was shot during a July 23 carjacking attempt, also in Frankford, which is east of Belair Road and north of Herring Run.
The group also is charged with the shooting death of Kendrick “Kenny” Sharpe, a 48-year-old Baltimore School for the Arts alumni who was gunned down Aug. 1 in Northwest Baltimore’s Howard Park neighborhood. Foster, Nesmith “and one or more attempted conspirators” tried to rob Sharpe, the indictment reads, and one man shot and killed him during the attempted robbery.
While the indictment alleges the deaths of Chavis, Lowther and Sharpe are all linked to the group’s racketeering activities, Foster is the only one of the four defendants to face a charge specific to one of the shooting deaths. He’s charged with an additional count of carjacking resulting in death related to the shooting death of Lowther.
According to the indictment, Foster “and one or more conspirators” stole a 2016 Acura TLX sedan at gunpoint from a man referred to only as “G.C.” in Northwest Baltimore’s Wakefield neighborhood on July 11.
Some of the defendants have histories of criminal charges, state court records show, but, for the most part, they have managed to avoid serious punishment.
Foster was found not guilty of robbing and murdering a contractor working on a vacant house in November 2014. On May 3, 2019 — just weeks before federal prosecutors say he began his deadly crime spree — Foster was found guilty of violating his probation for a previous robbery conviction. But he was not jailed and a judge sentenced him to additional probation, court records show.
In 2006, when he was 16 years old, Williams was charged with first-degree murder as police alleged he fatally shot 41-year-old Joseph C. Simms in Northwest Baltimore on Dec. 12, 2006. The case was closed in 2009 without a finding of guilt. Court records show Williams was arrested more than a dozen times on drug and weapons charges, and had an active warrant for a probation violation at the time of the crime spree.
In February 2019, Williams was sentenced to a little more than a year in prison in February 2019 after he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a car crash resulting in bodily injury related to a crash on March 23, 2018, according to Maryland court records.
Nesmith was charged with armed carjacking and related offenses when he was 16 years old in 2017, court records show. Prosecutors dropped all charges against him.
The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office did not respond to calls for comment as to whether the federal indictment affects any ongoing criminal cases or investigations.
Federal prosecutors touted the work of local partners in bringing the indictment against the four. The U.S. Attorney’s Office wrote in its release that Baltimore police and the city State’s Attorney’s Office helped develop the case against the group.
"We will not allow armed carjacking and robbery crews to threaten our neighborhoods and victimize our communities,” said U.S. Attorney Robert K. Hur. “Having allegedly used guns to bring fear and death to our streets, these defendants now face the prospect of years in federal prison.
State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby, whose office originally charged Foster and Nesmith with attempted murder for allegedly shooting Carrington, wrote in a statement that the federal indictment “sends a loud and clear message to anyone who wishes to foster an atmosphere of fear within our neighborhoods.”