BOSTON – A Malden woman pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with a drug and firearms conspiracy that included multiple shootings in Chelsea, Somerville and Cambridge.
Christina Bernbaum, a/k/a “Tina,” 23, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base and one count of conspiracy to possess, use and carry firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense. U.S. District Court Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton scheduled sentencing for April 6, 2022. Bernbaum was originally charged along with co-conspirator Jaiir Coleman on April 7, 2021.
Bernbaum participated in a long-running conspiracy to manufacture, distribute and possess controlled substances, including in large quantities in Massachusetts and in Maine, including on Coleman’s behalf during his incarceration. The conspiracy involved the procurement and possession of firearms, some of which were used in several shootings from November 2019 through July 2020. In addition, at least one of the firearms used in these shootings was equipped with an auto-sear attachment rendering it an automatic weapon, commonly known as a machine gun.
The charge of conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute more than 28 grams of a mixture or substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine base provides for a sentence of at least five years and up to 40 years in prison, at least four years and up to life of supervised release, a fine of up to $5 million and forfeiture. The charge of conspiring to possess, use and carry firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense provides for a sentence of up to life in prison because a machine gun was involved, up to five years of supervised release, a fine of up to $250,000 and forfeiture. Sentences are imposed by a federal district judge based on the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting United States Attorney Nathaniel R. Mendell; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; James Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Boston Field Division; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; Roy E. McKinney, Director of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency; Somerville Acting Police Chief Charles Femino; Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes; Lynn Police Chief Christopher Reddy; Cambridge Police Commissioner Christine Elow; Salem Police Chief Lucas Miller; Everett Police Chief Steven A. Mazzie; Malden Police Chief Kevin Molis; and Revere Police Chief David J. Callahan made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maine; the Middlesex County and Suffolk County District Attorney’s Offices; the Suffolk County and Essex County Sheriff’s Departments; and the Boston Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Philip A. Mallard and Sarah Hoefle of Mendell’s Organized Crime and Gang Unit are prosecuting the case.
The operation was conducted by a multi-agency task force through the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership between federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations, and those primarily responsible for the nation’s illegal drug supply. More information on the OCDETF program is available here: https://www.justice.gov/ocdetf/about-ocdetf.
The details contained in the charging documents are allegations. The remaining defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
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