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Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Alleged Imperial Gangster pleads not guilty to gun charge


reputed member of the Imperial Gangsters pleaded not guilty Monday to a gun charge linked to a shooting last month. Armando Jose Velasquez, 24, of East Chicago, is charged in federal court with being a felon in possession of a firearm. At Velasquez's detention hearing, U.S. Attorney David Nozick said the government plans to include Velasquez in the racketeering indictment that swept a dozen alleged Imperial Gangsters off the streets last fall. The 20-count federal indictment in the fall included five charges for murder in the aid of racketeering. During the alleged incident Dec. 3, witnesses said Velasquez approached the victim, Terrance Rios, who was driving a green 1998 Nissan, after Rios stopped at the intersection of 150th Street and Baring Avenue in East Chicago. Rios' two passengers said Velasquez pulled a chrome gun from his waistband and fired nine rounds. According to court records, Velasquez shot Rios twice in the head and once in the back. Rios survived, but Velasquez had a prior conviction for voluntary manslaughter. A teenager at the time in 2005, Velasquez was sentenced to 12 years for the crime, and he was on parole at the time of the December shooting. Velasquez, who has a tattoo on the right side of his neck and said he dropped out of school after sixth grade, waved hello to his family with shackled hands before the hearing. After entering his not guilty plea, he was taken back into custody, where he will remain pending a March trial before Chief Judge Philip P. Simon. His attorney, Sheldon Nagelberg, declined to comment.


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