In a recent federal trial, a woman named Kelly Deshannon was found guilty of several federal criminal charges related to her role as a “secretary” to a Mexican Mafia “shot caller.” Deshannon was involved in facilitating an armed robbery and shooting, as well as distributing narcotics and extortion. The evidence presented at the trial revealed that she played a significant part in these criminal activities, including brokering drug sales and collecting taxes within the gang’s territory. Deshannon is now facing a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in federal prison, with a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Criminal Charges against ‘Secretary’ to Mexican Mafia Shot Caller
Guilty Verdict for RICO Conspiracy, Armed Robbery, and Shooting
A federal jury has found Kelly Deshannon, a La Verne woman, guilty of federal criminal charges related to her role as a ‘secretary’ to an imprisoned Mexican Mafia ‘shot caller.’ This shot caller, Seferino Gonzalez, controlled Latino gangs in Pomona and engaged in various illegal activities, including drug trafficking, extortion, and violent crimes. Deshannon’s involvement in these criminal activities includes facilitating an armed robbery and shooting, as well as participating in drug sales and collecting extortionate taxes. The verdict of guilty includes charges of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, committing a violent crime in support of racketeering activity (VICAR), and using a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime.
Background of the Case
Kelly Deshannon served as a secretary to Seferino Gonzalez, who was a shot caller for the Michael Lerma Cell of the Mexican Mafia. Despite being imprisoned, Gonzalez maintained control over Latino gangs, particularly in Pomona. He was involved in coordinating drug trafficking and other criminal offenses within his territory. Deshannon’s role as a secretary involved assisting Gonzalez in various criminal activities, including an attempted armed robbery and shooting incident.
Control of Latino Gangs in Pomona by Gonzalez
Gonzalez exerted significant control over Latino gangs operating in Pomona. From his prison cell, he oversaw drug trafficking operations and other illegal activities within his territory. His authority and influence allowed him to maintain a strong grip on the criminal operations of these gangs.
Attempted Armed Robbery and Shooting Incident
One notable incident in which Deshannon was involved was an attempted armed robbery that resulted in a shooting. Deshannon facilitated the robbery by providing information about the victims and their access to a Mercedes-Benz SUV. On the night of the incident, she brought the shooter and other accomplices to the victims’ address and pointed out a specific victim. The victim was shot but survived the attack.
Deshannon’s Involvement in Drug Trafficking and Extortionate Taxes
Aside from her role in the armed robbery and shooting incident, Deshannon was also implicated in drug trafficking and collecting extortionate taxes in the territory controlled by the Lerma Cell. Deshannon acted as a broker for drug sales and ensured that the Lerma Cell collected taxes from various criminal activities.
Evidence Presented at the Trial
During the trial, the prosecution presented compelling evidence to establish Deshannon’s involvement in the criminal activities. This evidence included testimony from witnesses who had knowledge of Deshannon’s role as Gonzalez’s secretary and her participation in the armed robbery and shooting incident. Additional evidence also linked Deshannon to drug sales and the collection of extortionate taxes.
Details of the Armed Robbery and Shooting Incident
The armed robbery and shooting incident occurred on July 14, 2013. Deshannon facilitated the robbery by providing information about the victims, their address, and their access to a Mercedes-Benz SUV. She brought the shooter and other accomplices to the victims’ address, pointing out a specific victim. The victim was shot but survived the attack.
Deshannon’s Role in Drug Sales and Extortion
As Gonzalez’s secretary, Deshannon played a pivotal role in drug sales coordinated by the Lerma Cell. She acted as a broker for these transactions, ensuring the smooth flow of narcotics within the criminal organization. Additionally, Deshannon was responsible for collecting extortionate taxes from various criminal activities conducted within the Lerma Cell’s territory.
Lead Defendant Michael Lerma’s Indictment and Plea
Michael Lerma, the lead defendant in this case, was indicted alongside Deshannon in 2018. Lerma has pleaded not guilty to RICO conspiracy and multiple other federal charges. His trial is scheduled for July 23, 2024, and he is currently in federal custody awaiting his trial.
Scheduled Trial for Lerma on RICO Conspiracy and Other Charges
Michael Lerma’s trial has been scheduled for July 23, 2024. He is facing charges of RICO conspiracy and various other federal offenses. As the lead defendant, Lerma’s trial is anticipated to be a significant proceeding in further exposing the criminal activities of the Mexican Mafia and its affiliates.
Sentencing Hearing for Kelly Deshannon
United States District Judge George H. Wu has scheduled a sentencing hearing for Kelly Deshannon on October 26. Deshannon is facing a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in federal prison, with a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years. During the hearing, the judge will consider various factors before determining the appropriate sentence for Deshannon.
Statutory Minimum and Maximum Prison Sentences
The statutory minimum sentence for the charges against Deshannon, including conspiracy to violate the RICO Act, committing a violent crime in support of racketeering activity, and using a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime, is seven years in federal prison. The statutory maximum sentence is 20 years in federal prison.
Dismissed Counts and Not Guilty Verdicts for Deshannon
Following a 10-day trial in March 2023, a federal jury found Deshannon not guilty of attempted carjacking and deadlocked on four other counts. At the request of federal prosecutors, Judge Wu dismissed one count of committing a violent crime in support of racketeering activity against Deshannon on June 28.
Request for Dismissal by Federal Prosecutors
Federal prosecutors requested the dismissal of one count of committing a violent crime in support of racketeering activity against Deshannon. The request was granted by Judge Wu on June 28, 2023, after the jury deadlocked on the count during the trial.
Remaining Charges against Deshannon
Although one count was dismissed, Deshannon still faces charges of conspiracy to violate the RICO Act and using a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime. These charges are significant and carry severe penalties upon conviction.
Investigative Agencies and Task Force Involved
The FBI San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Task Force led the investigation into the criminal activities of the Lerma Cell and its affiliates. The task force, formed in 2008 and based out of the Pomona Police Department, collaborates with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to combat gang violence in the Los Angeles area and within the county jail. The Covina Police Department also provided assistance during the investigation.
Role of FBI San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Task Force
The FBI San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Task Force played a critical role in investigating the criminal activities of the Lerma Cell. This multi-agency task force, formed in 2008, collaborates closely with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to address and prevent gang violence in the San Gabriel Valley area. Their efforts are aimed at ensuring the safety and security of the residents and communities within the region.
Assistance from Covina Police Department
The Covina Police Department provided crucial assistance during the investigation into the activities of the Lerma Cell. Their collaboration with the FBI San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Task Force ensured a comprehensive and thorough investigation into the criminal activities associated with the Mexican Mafia in the Pomona area.
Prosecution Team for the Case
The case against Deshannon was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jason C. Pang of the Major Frauds Section and Varun Behl of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section. These experienced prosecutors worked tirelessly to present a strong case against Deshannon and secure her conviction.
Names of Assistant United States Attorneys
The Assistant United States Attorneys involved in the prosecution of Kelly Deshannon are Jason C. Pang and Varun Behl. Pang is a member of the Major Frauds Section, while Behl is a member of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section.
Responsibilities of Prosecuting Attorneys
Assistant United States Attorneys Jason C. Pang and Varun Behl were responsible for prosecuting the case against Kelly Deshannon. Their duties included preparing and presenting the evidence, questioning witnesses, and making legal arguments in support of the charges. They worked closely with law enforcement agencies to build a strong case against Deshannon.
Contact Information for Public Inquiries
For any public inquiries regarding the criminal case against Kelly Deshannon, individuals can contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California. The contact details for these inquiries are as follows:
- Address: 312 North Spring Street, Suite 1200, Los Angeles, California 90012
- Phone: (213) 894-2400
Media Contact Details
For members of the media seeking further information about the case or the verdict, the designated media contact is Ciaran McEvoy. He serves as the Public Information Officer for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: (213) 894-4465
The latest updates on the case against Kelly Deshannon and any related developments can be obtained by contacting the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California. Additionally, the office’s website and social media platforms may provide real-time updates and news releases pertaining to this case.
Description of Other Press Releases on Violent Crime Cases
The U.S. Attorney’s Office, Central District of California, regularly issues press releases regarding various violent crime cases. These press releases inform the public about significant milestones, indictments, guilty verdicts, and sentencing outcomes in such cases. Members of the public and media can access these press releases on the office’s website to stay informed about important developments in these cases.