Teen Gang-Related Crimes Follow Man Facing Sentencing Now as Adult

By Perla Brito

VENTURA, CA – Ventura County Superior Court Judge Bruce A. Young this week decided to strike the strike alleged in 2007 when the accused—in court now for felony firearms possession sentencing—was involved in a crime at 16 years old.

Yet, after multiple gang-related charges during his youth, the accused continues to deal with the consequences of his actions that happened years ago.

When he was 16, the accused and others used a car and weapons to rob the employees of an Arby’s restaurant. They took $2,200 and then fled in a car.

The accused was armed with a firearm and inside of his trunk were 428 rounds of 22 caliber ammunition, another rifle, and ammunition that belonged to another type of caliber handgun.

The prosecutor this week said, “Considering everything, the People’s position is that there should be CDCR [California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation], it should be low term federal. We understand the court’s position of striking it. My notes indicate that the report from the probation officer indicated that giving him all of 365 days considering his record and the circumstances of the offense.”

Defense Attorney Benjamin Maserang said, “With regard to the strike, that was when (the accused) was 16 years old. He had several various charges that to me appear somewhat gang-related. Most recently was, I believe, in 2017 so about five, almost six years ago.”

“We can see from the letters that were submitted that accompany the probation report, letters from various coworkers and supervisors, (the accused) has been working at a full time job for the last three years,” the lawyer added.

“The company does mediation and does basically toxic clean-ups in industrial and commercial locations 24/7. He’s part of a team, he’s grown in his abilities there, he’s very relied upon. Various supervisors say that they assign him to be the lead on a number of different jobs that they have and job sites that they go to. He’s in the role of training new employees and so he has progressed quite a lot in the job,” Attorney Maserang explained.

One of the individuals who wrote a support letter noted a coworker on a job site can receive a call with very short notice, but when somebody is there and is not prepared with lunch or a snack, the accused will give his own food to that coworker so that they are able to be in a better state of mind and not be hungry.

Another letter of support asserts the accused is involved in volunteering at beach clean-ups, is a big assist to his mother who needs to get to and from doctor’s appointments, and participates with his children.

The defense attorney said the accused has grown, especially since starting this job, arguing, “He is part of a different kind of a team than a gang. He is part of this workforce, they’re a work team and from what I see in the letters it seems like he has really been thriving in that and I think that’s the person that he is, much more so than the residual of his youth.

“I think that’s an important consideration in looking at what probation is asking for. Probation is recommending 240 days, but I am hoping the court will go even lower than that to 180 days.”

The accused plans on applying for electronic monitoring but his defense attorney said he expected the accused will be denied because of his record, specifically his gang-related charges which are an automatic disqualifier in an EM (Electronic Monitoring) application.

The EM Program is more open at looking at individual situations, which is why both the accused and his defense attorney said they were hopeful.

 However, because of the case the accused was involved in 2017, he was denied.

Judge Young apologized to the prosecutor and the defense for not noting that it was the People’s position of acknowledging that the actions at the accused’s young age of 15 years ago is appropriately stricken. He struck the strike from 2007.

Judge Bruce A. Young added to the accused, “I am however glad to hear the positive things you are doing at work,” whom he then placed on formal probation for 24 months and gave him 240 days in Ventura County Jail.

About The Author

Perla Brito is a 4th year undergraduate student at California State University, Long Beach. She is majoring in Criminology and Criminal Justice and is set to graduate by Spring 2023. After graduation she plans on working at a local police department in the criminal investigations division. She intends to pursue a Masters in Psychology with a focus in Neuroscience in hopes of working on neurocriminology research one day.

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