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Brandon Griffin wants 'Squad' gang testimony barred

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 16. 2018 11:43PM
Brandon Griffin looks back during a hearing in Hillsborough County Superior Court North in Manchester on Tuesday for a hearing at which his lawyers asked the judge to bar from his coming trial testimony about alleged gang activity. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

MANCHESTER — The purported kingpin of the Manchester gang “the Squad” appeared in a courtroom Tuesday to watch his lawyers try to prevent the jury in his upcoming trial from hearing testimony about alleged gang activity.

Brandon Griffin, 30, shook his head as his lawyer asked a judge not to admit the “wild claims” and allegations involving the Squad and instances of murder, prostitution, shootings, assaults, witness-tampering and drug sales.

“This would be misleading, confusing and also result in a series of trials within a trial,” said Brian Lee, one of Griffin’s two defense attorneys.

Meanwhile, Griffin waived arraignment on the 90-plus indictments that a Hillsborough County grand jury handed down in December. Those indictments and other court filings spelled out the extent of the Squad’s activity in Manchester.

Alleged leader of "The Squad" Brandon Griffin arrives at a hearing at Hillsborough Superior Court North in Manchester on Monday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Assistant County Attorney Gregory Lenti said he dropped five indictments that allege Griffin raped Tori Caron. Caron, 22, was the only witness available to testify about the rape-related charges, he said.

She died of a drug overdose at her parents’ Merrimack home in December.

The one-time girlfriend of Griffin, Caron was the target of a witness-intimidation campaign that Griffin allegedly orchestrated.

A trial on the 96 remaining indictments would be months away. 

At issue on Tuesday is a trial scheduled for later this month on four felony drug charges stemming from a June raid on Griffin’s Concord Street apartment. Griffin and Caron were in the apartment at the time.

Lenti said that Griffin faces 20 to 40 years in state prison if convicted on the charge, given the quantity of drugs found, Griffin’s criminal record and the presence in the apartment of drug-dealing equipment such as a digital scale. 

In court, Lenti disclosed the initials of four witnesses willing to testify about Griffin and the Squad. Lenti said Griffin wanted to be the biggest drug kingpin in Manchester and used violence and intimidation to force Squad members to do his bidding.

“What we have here is a well-constructed organization that operated basically as a business,” he said.

Superior Court Judge Kenneth Brown could rule as early as today whether to allow testimony about the Squad. If he does, it’s likely that Griffin’s lawyers would ask for time to prepare for trial. At this point, jury selection is expected to begin on Monday.

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