In 1996, at the age of 19, I plead guilty to an Attempted Murder w/ a Firearm Enhancement in Pittsburg, CA. Around 2000 I was validated by the CDCR as a member of a predominantly Latino prison gang and remanded to the Security Housing Unit (SHU) for the duration of my sentence. While in the Pelican Bay SHU I earned a paralegal certificate, appealed my validation twice, and assisted other inmates with their appeals. I paroled in December of 2005 with the desire to help others of all geographic and ethnic backgrounds avoid unhealthy lifestyles and challenging systemic barriers to such self-determination.
Upon parole I sought to rebuild my life in a meaningful way; I began engaging in various ministry opportunities and soon got involved in the field of violence prevention and gang intervention on a community level. I married, started a family and moved to East Palo Alto, CA. In my work with organizations such as the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center (PCRC), Live In Peace, Inc. and others I was able to train school districts, teach in a variety of public and charter schools, mentor and engage with hundreds of gang-influenced youth and adults, create programming for the Juvenile Detention center as well as other non-profits and serve as guest lecturer for countless conferences/college classes. I created and facilitated workshops for parents as well as mental health experts, correctional staff, NGO’s and other professionals. My work has not been limited to the Bay Area. I moved to Manatee County, FL for approximately a year and assisted the YMCA in developing a comprehensive community-based response to what was perceived as a rising gang problem largely transplanted from CA. I have served on regional boards and committee’s as well as earned a variety of certifications and I am currently pursuing a college degree.
I began working for attorneys in mid-2012 based on the recommendation of a well respected private investigator who, as former law enforcement, also served as the premiere gang expert in the county. There was a case he had in which local police had accused a young Latino man of being a member of a criminal street gang which simply did not exist. I knew the man, his family and the community intimately and the prospect of his being sent to prison for what would otherwise be a misdemeanor at worst troubled me. Thanks to a receptive public defender we were able to get all gang enhancements and charges dropped and the young man served a couple months in county jail for a felony that he later got reduced to a misdemeanor. Today he is again gainfully employed, a community servant and has not been arrested again. Since then I have served several different court appointed lawyers as well as privately retained on cases in CA and Federal Court ranging from Conspiracy to Commit Murder to Possession of Dangerous Weapon. All of my work has been by word-of-mouth from lawyers and investigators I have worked with. I am happy to provide references and, to the extent that it is appropriate, details around other cases I have worked on.
In the arena of Immigration Law I have consulted for Educators For Fair Consideration (E4FC), The Stanford Law School Immigrant Rights Clinic, Immigrant Legal Research Center (ILRC) and others primarily around the intersect of DACA and allegations of gang affiliation but also asylum for those of Mexican and Central-American residency at risk of victimization should they be returned.
Besides my work as a Gang Expert in areas of Criminal and Immigration Law, I am also an active leader in the areas of community-based violence prevention. For more information or resources in challenging violence or the roots of it from a community perspective I invite you to visit HOMIEforLife.org (Helping Others Move In Excellence).