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Two Mexican Mafia Members Get Life

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Two members of the Mexican Mafia--convicted in May after a seven-month federal trial that prosecutors hailed as a serious blow against the secretive prison gang--were sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

True to the code of silence in which members deny the organization’s very existence, Randy “Cowboy” Therrien, 37, of Moreno Valley, looked straight ahead and said nothing when U.S. District Judge Ronald S.W. Lew sentenced him to life imprisonment after a 2 1/2-hour hearing in the morning.

Later in the day, David “Smilon” Gallardo, 37, of Los Angeles, said nothing in his defense before sentencing. But he reiterated a request that Lew marry him and his girlfriend.

But Lew, who has been a federal judge in Los Angeles since 1986, rejected the request, explaining that he conducted one such ceremony when he was a Los Angeles Superior Court judge 13 years ago. “I will never do it again,” Lew told Gallardo. “That to me was enough.”

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Unlike Therrien, Gallardo continually smiled at his girlfriend in the back of the courtroom, even as he was being sentenced.

It will be left up to officials at the federal prison, where Gallardo is sent, to decide whether to grant his marriage request, officials said.

Under federal guidelines, the severity of their crimes dictated that Therrien and Gallardo receive life terms without the possibility of parole although the judge added 300 months to Gallardo’s sentence because of his past criminal record and other issues.

Attorneys for both men said they will appeal the convictions.

Therrien and Gallardo were the first of 12 Mexican Mafia members to be sentenced after a jury convicted them of racketeering and conspiracy charges that alleged that they committed murder, extorted money from street gangs and trafficked drugs to expand the prison gang’s influence in Southern California.

Twenty-two people were initially indicted in 1995 in the government’s case against the Mexican Mafia. Seven pleaded guilty to lesser charges. One person died before he could be brought to trial and another is awaiting trial.

One defendant was acquitted when the jury returned its verdicts May 30. The others, including four today, are to be sentenced this week.

Therrien was convicted for his involvement in the murders of two Mexican Mafia members who were targeted for death by the organization--Manuel “Rocky” Luna in 1993 and Charles “Charlie Brown” Manriquez in 1992. He was also convicted of conspiring to kill two others and conspiring to aid and abet in the distribution of illegal drugs.

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Gallardo was also convicted for the murders of Luna and Manriquez. He was also found guilty of the death of Hazard gang member Ricardo “Rascal” Gonzalez, trying to kill two others and conspiring to distribute drugs.


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