Eight NY gang members were arraigned on Sunday, October 10, for hate crimes and other charges stemming from brutal attacks on three victims. Those being held are members of a gang called the Latin King Goonies and range in age from 17 to 23. All are being charged as adults.
CNN reports the defendants have not yet entered pleas. Steven Carabello, 17, and Dennis Piters, 17, have had their bail set at $100,000 each. Others in custody, Bryan Almonte, 17, Brian Cepeda, 17, Nelson Falu, 17, Idelfonso Mendez, 23, David Rivera, 21, and Elmer Confresi, 23, are being held without bail. One suspect, 22 year-old Ruddy Vargas-Perez, is still at large.
The charges against the gang members include harassment, criminal possession of a weapon, unlawful imprisonment, assault, robbery and sexual abuse as hate crimes. The gang members allegedly held the three victims against their will in a vacant apartment, beat all and sodomized two of them. According to the CNN report, a fourth person was beaten and robbed in connection with the attacks, New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly has said.
The attacks on the victims began when the NY gang suspected that a 17 year-old who wanted to join had had sexual relations with a man. He was taken, beaten and tortured before being released. Another 17 year-old was subjected to much the same torture and the 30 year-old man the gang suspected of having contact with the two was also taken, beaten and tortured. The man's younger brother was the fourth attacked by the defendants.
Felonies such as these will have even more serious repercussion if the minors involved are tried as adults. A prosecutor will often request the juvenile be tried as an adult for particularly serious or violent offenses. In juvenile cases, the focus on the outcome is more to rehabilitate, not to punish the defendant. An adult is treated in a very different manner.
CNN reports the hate crimes task force took over the case and worked in partnership with the Bronx Gang Division and Bronx Special Victims Squad to help identify and capture the suspects.
On Saturday, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made a statement about the crimes. "I was sickened by the brutal nature of these crimes and saddened at the anti-gay bias that contributed to them," he said. "Hate crimes such as these strike fear into all of us."