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EC gang members describe their roles in 2 murder attempts, 1 murder

Updated: February 12, 2014 6:12AM



Three East Chicago members of the Imperial Gangsters described their roles in the street gang Friday afternoon, including one murder and two attempted murders.

Armando Jose Velasquez, 26, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Hammond to one count each of racketeering, attempted murder and using a gun during a violent crime. His plea agreement calls for a binding sentence of 30 years or less in prison.

The attempted murder and gun counts are connected to a shooting on Dec. 3, 2011, after some of Velasquez’s fellow gang members had already been arrested in the racketeering case and were being held without bond. Velasquez told U.S. District Judge Philip Simon that, because of their arrests, he had been playing a larger role in the gang.

“I was taking charge,” he said.

Velasquez, who joined the gang when he was 13, said he was patrolling his area when he saw some people who he thought were rival gang members. They got into an argument, he said, but left without any occurrence. When he came upon their car a few minutes later, he shot multiple times without saying anything.

Velasquez struck one of the men in the head and back, he said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Nozick said the people he shot were not gang members, however.

Velasquez has already been convicted of manslaughter in Lake County for another man he shot and killed in 2004. He was sentenced to 12 years in that crime and was out on parole when he was arrested.

Two other fellow gang members — Edward Serna, 34, and Jason Medina, 30 — also pleaded guilty to racketeering and attempted murder that was part of a dispute within their own gang. Serna was driving a car with Medina as a passenger in July 2011 in East Chicago when they saw an Imperial Gangsters member who belonged to another faction. Serna said the faction had recently killed a friend and fellow gang member, Angelo Santos, and that he thought the gang member was going to kill him, too.

He stopped the car, and Medina got out, shot at the man, and then took off with Serna, both men said.

Medina also pleaded guilty to murdering Guadalupe Trevino, whose brother was the leader of the rival Two Six Gang, Medina said.

When he saw Trevino near Gary/Chicago International Airport, he pulled up next to him, shot and killed him, Medina said.

“Really it was just to shoot him,” he said when Judge Simon asked if he was trying to improve his rank within the gang.

Velasquez is set to be sentenced June 6, and Serna and Medina are both set to be sentenced June 19.

One more Imperial Gangster member, Salvador Chavez, is set to plead guilty Monday, according to court records, although his plea deal was not available Friday afternoon. That leaves just one defendant, Richard Reyes, set to face trial. That trial is scheduled to start Wednesday.



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