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Date: 05-16-2023

Case Style:

United States of America v. Ernest Pressley

Case Number:

Judge: Eduardo C. Robreno

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Philadelphia

Defendant's Attorney:

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Description: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and four counts of use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire.

In late 2018, the Philadelphia Police Department joined with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to investigate Ernest Pressley, age 43, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in connection with the murder of S.S., who was shot to death in the parking lot of a Philadelphia apartment complex near 7400 Malvern Avenue in the early morning hours of September 1, 2018. Pressley was captured on video surveillance footage near the scene and in footage retrieved from a bar in Philadelphia the evening before when he was with S.S. and several other men. Pressley was arrested in connection with this crime on September 7, 2018.

Law enforcement's investigation revealed that Pressley was responsible for other murders in Philadelphia, including the killings of two tow truck drivers for A. Bob's Towing on January 12 and 13, 2017. Pressley agreed to kill tow truck driver K.F. in exchange for money to prevent K.F. from testifying as a witness at an assault trial in Philadelphia. In an effort to distract law enforcement from the true motivation for K.F.'s murder and to make it appear as though it was connected to a feud between rival tow truck companies, Pressley selected at random one of K.F.'s co-workers, E.R., and shot him to death as he left work on January 12, 2017, near 4500 Melrose Street. The next day, Pressley approached K.F. as he left his home and entered his tow truck, which was being driven by a co-worker, at which time Pressley opened fire, fatally striking K.F. and injuring his co-worker, who was shot several times in his lower body.

As the investigation developed further, Pressley was also identified as the person who shot M.R. to death in Philadelphia on January 11, 2017, near the intersection of East Sharpnack and Baldwin Streets, while M.R. worked on his vehicle at a garage in the area.

In September 2022, during his guilty plea allocution before Judge Robreno, Pressley admitted that he murdered M.R., E.R., K.F., and S.S. in exchange for money and at the direction of a drug trafficker. Around the time of each crime, Pressley used his cellular phone to communicate with his co-conspirator to plan how and when each murder would be carried out.

Pressley also admitted to shooting C.Y. to death on July 19, 2016, as C.Y. sat on the porch of a residence near 1500 West Olney Avenue in Philadelphia. Pressley also admitted to his role in providing the location of a man he knew was wanted dead by a Philadelphia drug trafficker, which later resulted in the death of Y.H., who was killed as the result of mistaken identity near the intersection of 56th Street and Ithan Street on July 24, 2018. Finally, Pressley admitted that he attempted to kill a woman when he shot her in the arm as she arrived at her Philadelphia home on North Woodstock Street on July 9, 2018. While the woman survived a gunshot wound, she later discovered that her home had been ransacked and several items, including money and jewelry, were stolen. Several hours later, Pressley was identified as having sold a Rolex watch belonging to the woman at a Philadelphia pawn shop.

"Taking a cold-blooded killer like Ernest Pressley off the street for five consecutive life sentences is a prime example of why the U.S. Attorney's Office and the Department of Justice make tackling violent crime a priority,” said U.S. Attorney Romero. "Our joint partnerships with the FBI and Philadelphia Police Department make it possible to bring these cases into federal court and secure the severe punishment such a career murderer deserves.”

“Ernest Pressley is a hardened and chronic offender, a true menace to society,” said Jacqueline Maguire, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “For all the lives he took and families he affected, this contract killer has duly earned each of his life sentences. The FBI and Philadelphia Police Department will continue to focus our partnership and resources on locking up the worst of the worst, like Pressley, who cause so much of the city’s bloodshed.”

"This defendant ultimately failed to escape accountability for his outrageous violent crimes due to the collaboration of law enforcement at all levels of government, which occurs each and every day," Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said. "I commend U.S. Attorney Romero and her team, the FBI, Philadelphia Police, along with our own ADA Joanne Pescatore, Supervisor of the Homicide/Non-Fatal Shootings Unit, for helping to secure a sentence of incarceration that ensures Ernest Pressley will no longer endanger our communities."

"We are grateful for the collaboration between the Philadelphia Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which led to the apprehension and conviction of Ernest Pressley,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw. “His heinous crimes demonstrate the utmost disregard for human life. This sentence sends a strong message that we will relentlessly pursue justice and protect our communities from those who commit acts of violence."

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Philadelphia Police Department, and the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Justin Ashenfelter.

Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to five consecutive life sentences.

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