New Haven man admits role in drug robbery scheme

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HARTFORD – Harold Harrington, also known as “Chopper” and “Chapo,” 27, of New Haven, pleaded guilty Wednesday in Hartford federal court to a federal robbery offense.

The case stems from “Operation Samson,” a multi-layered initiative headed by the ATF and the Bridgeport and New Haven police departments, that targeted violent criminals, illegal firearm possession and firearm trafficking.

In the spring of 2014, approximately 40 ATF special agents and personnel from Connecticut and across the country were deployed with New Haven and Bridgeport police to conduct numerous covert operations.

According to court documents and statements made in court, during the operation, an undercover agent and a confidential informant made several controlled purchases of suspected crack cocaine from Donald Gaines, also known as “Stretch” and “Shorty,” 35, of New Haven.

During their contact, according to the documents, the informant asked Gaines if he and anyone he knew would be interested in committing a drug robbery.

Gaines said that he did not want to participate in the robbery itself, but introduced the informant and the undercover agent to Harrington, who claimed to be a member of the Bloods street gang.

The undercover agent told Harrington that he wanted to hire someone to commit a home invasion drug robbery

of a drug organization’s “stash house” in order to steal six to eight kilograms of cocaine.

Harrington agreed to participate and helped plan an armed robbery. Harrington also said that he would bring members of his crew to help commit the robbery.

The undercover agent and Harrington agreed to split the cocaine taken during the robbery, and also agreed to give Gaines one kilogram of cocaine for arranging for the two to meet.

On March 21, 2014, the day of the planned robbery, Harrington arrived for a meeting with Louis Toler, also known as “A.B.,” 45, of New Haven.

Harrington, Toler and the undercover agent had a detailed discussion about how the robbery was going to be committed, then Harrington and Toler were arrested. A loaded gun was discovered during a search of Toler’s car.

The informant then called Gaines, told him the robbery had gone smoothly and arranged to meet him to deliver the cocaine. When Gaines arrived at the designated location, he identified police surveillance and sped off.  After a brief chase, Gaines crashed his car on an off ramp in West Haven, then tried to flee on foot and was captured.

Harrington pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and faces a maximum term of 20 years in prison.

On March 5, Gaines pleaded guilty to the same charge and, on May 1 Toler pleaded guilty to one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. They both await sentencing.