JUNE 16–As part of a mushrooming criminal investigation, two men tied to fugitive music manager James Rosemond have been charged with the murder of an associate of the rapper 50 Cent, The Smoking Gun has learned.
The September 2009 killing of Lowell Fletcher, investigators believe, was retribution for the assault two years earlier of Rosemond’s 14-year-old son. Additionally, sources said, federal agents suspect that Rosemond ordered and paid for the attack.
Fletcher, pictured at right, struck the boy in the head after spotting him on a Manhattan sidewalk wearing a t-shirt with the name of his father’s music management business, Czar Entertainment. Rosemond’s son was on his way to his father’s West 25th Street office, which was across the street from the headquarters of 50 Cent’s management firm.
At the time of the March 2007 attack, the chart-topping performer was involved in a heated rivalry with the rapper The Game, who was managed by Rosemond’s company. Fletcher, nicknamed Lodi Mack, subsequently pleaded guilty to endangering the welfare of a child, while fellow G-Unit member Tony Yayo (real name: Marvin Bernard) copped a plea to harassing the younger Rosemond.
Fletcher was imprisoned for nearly two years for the assault and an unrelated narcotics charge. Two weeks after being paroled in mid-September 2009, Fletcher was shot to death on a quiet Bronx street at 9:30 PM. New York Police Department investigators reportedly believed that Fletcher, 32, had been ambushed by several men that Sunday evening.
In a superseding indictment unsealed late last month in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, federal prosecutors accused two men of involvement in Fletcher’s murder. Rodney Johnson, 37, was charged with plotting with unnamed coconspirators to orchestrate the homicide. He is alleged to have agreed to pay Brian McCleod and “others known and unknown” to kill Fletcher. The 40-year-old McCleod, pictured below, agreed to commit the killing “in exchange for narcotics.”
“Johnson and McCleod,” according to the indictment, “caused the death of Lowell Fletcher.” However, the document does not offer further details as to who pulled the trigger or was present during the homicide.
The indictment also charges the pair and two other men with narcotics trafficking in connection with a ring that arranged to have cocaine shipped from Los Angeles to New York via overnight delivery services like Federal Express. Prosecutors and Drug Enforcement Administration agents believe that Rosemond headed the group’s East Coast operations.
Johnson, Derek English, and Ronald Anderson were initially named in a May 2010 indictment charging them with narcotics distribution. The men, all convicted felons, were arrested outside a Bayside, Queens residence that was used as a cocaine “stash house” by the narcotics distribution operation. McCleod was added as a defendant in the May 27 superseding indictment, which included two new felony counts related to the Fletcher homicide.
The federal case is not the first time Johnson and McCleod–who underwent open heart surgery in March–have been codefendants in a cocaine distribution case. Both men were convicted in Queens of state charges about five years ago. Johnson was freed from state prison in April 2008, while McCleod was released in August 2009, one month before Fletcher was gunned down in the shadow of the elevated train tracks running along Jerome Avenue. (6 pages)