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Budget shortfall could hit County gang prevention

  • Published in Local

ROCKVILLE — Montgomery County Council Members are concerned that the County’s new effort to pour money into preventing the growth of gang activity could be a casualty of the forthcoming budget cuts intended to mitigate a budget shortfall.

“Here’s my concern so, alright, we are going to engage very actively in January to address the savings plan,” said Council member Nancy Navarro (D-4) during a joint meeting of the Council’s Public Safety and Health and Human Services Committees. “At the same time that we also heard there were programs that we have funded previously that have not actually been implemented.”

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Feds To Prosecute MS-13

  • Published in Crime

Six defendants face multiple charges in similar cases of murder and racketeering

 

Federal authorities say they are prosecuting six local men under federal racketeering statutes following at least three murders in the last two years.

The latest indictment is against one of the defendants in an alleged gang-related murder that took place in Gaithersburg last summer. That man is now being prosecuted in federal court under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act.

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County Council’s joint committee discusses surge in gang activity

  • Published in Local

 

ROCKVILLE – Police say they are in the process of reacting to an unusually high level of gang activity during the last eight months.

Speaking to a joint County Council committee this week, Police Chief Tom Manger said his department is investigating several homicides directly related to gang activity.

 “We’ve had an unprecedented number of homicides, gang-related homicides,” Manger said. “We typically have in any given year, one – in a bad year – maybe two gang-related homicides…last year we had eight -- that is unprecedented.”

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Trials For Ongoing Gang Activities

gavel2Two areas of criminal activity that are much discussed at the present time are sexual assaults and gang related activity, which sometimes overlap. The State often has an interest when presenting criminal charges in including gang related charges with other crimes. How the Court handles such cases is illustrated by a recent case from Maryland’s intermediate appellate court called Andrez Cortez v. State of Maryland.

The Court’s opinion indicates that Mr. Cortez showed a co-worker a video on his cell phone of three men having sex with a woman who appeared to be “out of it.”  The co-worker recognized the voice providing commentary on the tape as the defendant, and he told his boss who called the police.  A search of the defendant’s apartment produced another similar video, and witnesses identified the voice as that of Mr. Cortez.

It was apparent from the video that that the videographer not only touched the victim himself, but made comments related to a particular gang and gang members. The Defendant admitted to the police that he had brought this gang to Montgomery County and was a member. The police identified the victim, who became very upset when shown the video. She said she had gone to a party and drunk some beer, but then became very sleepy. She awoke the next day to find she had been robbed, but was not even aware she had been sexually assaulted.

The State charged Cortez with three sex offenses, and also for participating in gang related activity. The defense attorney asked that the gang charge be set for a separate trial, arguing that the sex offenses were separate allegations and it was too prejudicial for the jury to also hear about a gang. The trial judge ordered one trial on all charges, and the defendant was convicted.  The appellate court upheld the decision to try the gang related charges with all the other crimes.

The Court noted that whether to order a separate trial on charges depends upon 1) whether the same evidence would be admissible in both trials, and 2) whether the interest of judicial economy in trying related charges from the same facts was outweighed by other considerations. Here, the Court found that gang related evidence was relevant to motive and identity of the defendant, and upheld holding one trial in this case. This illustrates how gang related charges may also support prosecution for related crimes.

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