Admitted Gang Member Sentenced on Federal Racketeering Charges
WASHINGTON—Armando Jose Velasquez, aka “Money,” 27, of East Chicago, Indiana, was sentenced today to serve 305 months in prison on federal racketeering charges relating to a Dec. 3, 2011, attempted murder.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney David A. Capp for the Northern District of Indiana made the announcement. The sentence was imposed today by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Philip P. Simon.
According to court documents, on Dec. 3, 2011, Velasquez fired a gun into a car being driven by an 18-year-old resident of East Chicago, Indiana, and struck the victim three times. Velasquez believed that the victim was a rival gang member, but the victim was not actually a gang member and was not involved in any criminal activity. Velasquez had been previously convicted in the Lake County Superior Court in Indiana of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2005 and was on state parole when he committed the offense.
Velasquez was part of a 24-defendant indictment alleging that members of the Imperial Gangsters committed 14 previously-uncharged homicides: 12 in East Chicago, Indiana, one in Hammond, Indiana, and one in Gary, Indiana. The indictment also charged a decade-long racketeering conspiracy that involved the attempted murder of 19 other victims and the large scale distribution of cocaine and marijuana.
Velasquez pleaded guilty on Jan. 10, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to participate in racketeering activity, attempted murder in aid of racketeering activity and a firearm offense relating to the Dec. 3, 2011, attempted murder. Velasquez is one of 22 defendants charged in the indictment to plead guilty. One defendant, Richard Reyes, was convicted by a jury of murder and conspiracy to commit racketeering activity on Jan. 24, 2014, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Sept. 30, 2014. The remaining defendant is scheduled for trial on Jan. 12, 2015.
An indictment is merely an accusation, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the FBI, and the East Chicago Police Department, with assistance from the Gary Police Department, the Hammond Police Department and the Lake County High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program. This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Bruce R. Hegyi of the Criminal Division’s Capital Case Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Nozick of the Northern District of Indiana.