3 get plea deals in anti-gay crime in NYC

The AP

Three reputed members of a New York City street gang accused of brutal anti-gay attacks on a teenage recruit and two others pleaded guilty to lesser charges this week after prosecutors said the victims wanted to avoid testifying at a trial.

The three members of the Latin King Goonies were initially charged with crimes including aggravated sexual abuse and assault as a hate crime, gang assault and burglary, prosecutors said. Their pleas June 20 ranged from burglary to attempted assault.

“The pleas were offered after lengthy consultation with the victims who wished to avoid having to testify, which might have had the effect of victimizing them again,” the District Attorney’s Office in the Bronx said in a statement. “Assistant District Attorney Theresa Gottleib told the court the people believed the pleas serve the interest of justice from society’s perspective as well as that of the victims.”

Prosecutors said that in October 2010, members of the gang went berserk after hearing a rumor that one of their new recruits, a 17-year-old from the Bronx, was gay. The teen was stripped, beaten and sexually assaulted with a plunger handle until he confessed to having had sex with a 30-year-old man who lives a few blocks away, prosecutors and police said at the time.

Then, the group grabbed a second teen they suspected was gay and tortured him, too, authorities said. Finally, they invited the 30-year-old to an abandoned house they used as a hangout, telling him they were having a party. When he arrived, they burned, beat and tortured him for hours, and the attack included sexually assaulting him with a miniature baseball bat, prosecutors said.

At the time, the case was one in a spate of alleged anti-gay attacks across the region, and it sparked horror and outrage among city lawmakers and the public who demanded justice.

Ten people were initially arrested, but charges against three were dropped. On June 20, David Rivera, 24, pleaded guilty to the most serious charge of burglary, admitting he went into the homes of two of the victims, flashed what appeared to be a gun and took cash, credit cards and electronics from the home. He will be sentenced to 13 years when he is sentenced July 29. His lawyer didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Nelson Falu, 20, pleaded guilty to robbery, admitting he stole from one of the victims after threatening them with a baseball bat. He will serve seven years behind bars when he is sentenced Aug. 9. His lawyer didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Elmer Confresi, 26, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted gang assault after admitting he injured one of the victims held in the basement. He will be sentenced July 29 to four years.

“He was minimally involved,” said his attorney Patrick Bruno. “I think the district attorney was equitable. They made the distinction.”

Charges against four others are still pending.