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Imperial Gangsters member gets 25 years in EC shooting

Updated: August 27, 2014 6:13AM



An East Chicago man, who tried to lead the Imperial Gangsters after a large racketeering case put many of his fellow gangsters in jail, will spend more than 25 years in prison for shooting a man in the city.

U.S. District Judge Philip Simon sentenced Armando Jose Velasquez, 27, to 305 months in prison after he pleaded guilty to attempted murder, racketeering and a firearm charge in the December 2011 shooting.

Velasquez admitted that he was “trying to take charge” of the East Chicago Imperial Gangsters in 2011 because many of the gangs’ former leaders, including Juan Briseno, were jailed after being charged with various crimes, including murder and racketeering.

Velasquez said he encountered Terrance Rios, whom he thought was a rival gang member, at a convenience store and later fired nine shots at him when he was in a car, striking Rios twice in the head and once in the back.

“It is extremely fortunate that Terrance Rios was not killed on that day, especially considering that he took two bullets to the head from close range,” according to the government’s sentencing memorandum, in which prosecutors sought a sentence of nearly 30 years for Velasquez.

His attorney, Sheldon Nagelberg, argued in a court filing that his client should get no more than 202 months in prison, noting that Velasquez was in prison, after being convicted of voluntary manslaughter in Lake County, during most of the time that the racketeering conspiracy took place. The motion also says Velasquez grew up in a dysfunctional family and has mental health issues, including addiction.



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