by Jordan Green

Items from across the Triad and beyond

Paid informant testifies in Latin Kings trial

The defense team for the North Carolina Latin Kings scored a win last week when a federal judge prevented the US government from presenting evidence to support an allegation that state leader Jorge Cornell bragged about killing a rival gang member during a bench conference in federal court last week. One of numerous alleged “overt acts” in the racketeering indictment against Cornell and six other Latin Kings states that in July 2010 Cornell bragged that he killed an MS-13 member by saying, “I’m not going to say when or where, but I got me a 13. I got me one. A certain brother did not want to motherf*cking pull the trigger, so I snatched it out of his hand and did what I had to do. You know what I’m saying? I can’t stand n*ggas hesitating.” Michael Patrick, Cornell’s court-appointed lawyer, said on Sunday that prosecutors had wanted to play a segmented of audio secretly recorded by government informant Jose Lugo that included the statement for the jury. He said he objected, and Judge James A. Beaty Jr. sustained. Neither the indictment nor any evidence presented so far by the government contains any indication that a murder was actually carried out by Cornell.

The jury heard two days of testimony from Lugo, a Venezuelan-born permanent resident alien, who agreed to wear a wire for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department and the FBI after members of the rival organization MS-13 were rounded up and deported. He started spending more time in Greensboro to get close to Cornell, and began reporting to a Guilford County sheriff’s deputy assigned to an FBI task force.

Lugo testified about arranging to procure firearms for the Greensboro Latin Kings, buying a handgun from Cornell, plotting to attack ex-members and ordering a beating to discipline a member who had talked back to him — all while feeding audio recordings to his law enforcement handlers.

The jury also heard testimony from former members Richard Robinson, Marcelo Ysrael Perez, Jesus Alvarenga and Randy Bello last week.