A South Los Angeles gang member was sentenced Monday to life behind bars for racketeering offenses, including the ambush slaying of an innocent man gunned down in front of his 2-year-old son.
Rondale “Pueblo-Grump” Young, 37, was found guilty in May of conspiring to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act — RICO — in relation to the Aug. 2, 2009, murder of Francisco Cornelio, a 23-year-old man with no gang affiliation who was shot to death at point-blank range while vacuuming his car as his young son watched.
The jury also found Young guilty of conspiracy to commit a violent crime in aid of racketeering — known as VICAR — VICAR murder, and possessing, using and discharging a firearm resulting in death in relation to a crime of violence.
According to the evidence presented during a two-week trial, on the day of Cornelio’s murder, Young, accompanied by other armed gang members, drove his car into rival gang territory, seeking retaliation for the fatal drive-by shooting of a fellow gang member.
Young drove the car armed with a shotgun, and even though he was not a shooter, he is “as guilty as the person who pulled the trigger,” U.S. District Judge S. James Otero said from the bench.
Cornelio was targeted simply because he was of Latino descent and was in rival gang territory, evidence showed. Local authorities originally charged Young in 2009 with killing Cornelio, but he was acquitted by a state jury.
Against defense objections, Young read aloud a 20-minute statement denying all charges and any gang involvement, and accused the judge of siding with the government.
“I’m a God-fearing man on a mission from God … a good Samaritan, a member of the community, a good father and son,” Young said. “I didn’t have a fair trial and I didn’t have a fair judge.”
After Young’s statement — which included a portion sealed by the judge — Otero responded that, “Unfortunately, two juries have seen it a different way.”
An August 2010 indictment filed in Los Angeles federal court charged Young and 44 other members and associates of the gang with being members of a criminal enterprise that engaged in drug dealing, firearms trafficking, murder, witness intimidation and armed robbery as part of efforts to control and terrorize the Pueblo Del Rio Housing Projects in South Los Angeles.
In 2013, Young was convicted of racketeering charges in the indictment and Cornelio’s murder and was sentenced to life in federal prison. That conviction was vacated in 2017 by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which cited evidentiary errors during the first trial. The case was sent back to the district court for a retrial. Young has been in federal custody since the 2010 indictment.
Fellow gang member Anthony “Bandit” Gabrourel, 29, was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison in 2013 for shooting Cornelio in the back with a shotgun.
With Young’s conviction, all 45 defendants charged in the case have been convicted of federal RICO and related charges, and have been held responsible for multiple murders, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
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