Nearly three years after the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles first filed charges against Alex Sanchez, a well-known gang intervention worker, for racketeering and conspiracy to commit murder, those same federal prosecutors are now seeking to dismiss the case.
Why? Prosecutors say the evidence they presented to a grand jury contained errors and omissions. Grand jurors relied on that evidence to indict Sanchez in 2009 for his role in allegedly plotting to murder a gang member.
A spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office said he's prohibited from discussing anything pertaining to the grand jury proceedings.
Sanchez, a former gang member, has repeatedly denied the charges and said he remains committed to his work with Homies Unidos, a bi-national gang peace organization with roots in Los Angeles and El Salvador.
Though it is laudable that U.S. Atty. Andre Birotte Jr.'s office concedes in court papers that the case is undermined because of bad evidence, I can’t help but wonder why it took prosecutors three years to figure out that the evidence contained errors and the charges should be dropped. Surely, everyone is entitled to a fair and speedy trial.
After all, prosecutors were alerted to problems early on. Sanchez’s lawyers, Kerry Bensinger and, later, Amy Jacks, said as much in 2009 in court filings, and later during a bail hearing, and in further declarations in August 2010. And just last month, Jacks repeated the call for the government to drop its case because prosecutors "relied on false evidence" and "lied to the grand jury and withheld exculpatory evidence."