Vowing to “rebuild Homies Unidos,” gang peacemaker Alex Sanchez walked out of federal court a free man for the first time in nearly four years.
Federal prosecutors apologized for previous mishandling of the case while reserving the right to re-file new charges in the next three months if credible new evidence is discovered concerning Sanchez. Defense attorneys say there is no such evidence despite 10 years of indictments, trials, immigration hearings, new indictments and the three-year case, which now has fizzled.
After a long battle with federal prosecutors, the FBI and LAPD, new US attorneys concluded that the case against Sanchez was too “flawed” to go forward, and asked that the charges be dismissed. Those earlier flaws, including false statements by FBI and LAPD witnesses three years ago, were known to the original prosecutors but not acknowledged. In a sealed bail hearing, neither the FBI nor LAPD could offer evidence to a federal judge that Sanchez was either a flight risk or a danger to his community.
The original charges were brought in June 2009 with a highly publicized press conference featuring federal officials, then-LAPD chief William Bratton and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Since then, many of Sanchez’ pioneering programs in gang intervention have been incorporated in official City programs. The judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys have come and gone, with Sanchez remaining awaiting his trial. The successful motion before Judge Dale Fischer was made by US public defender Amy Jacks, following on earlier efforts by now-judge Kerry Bensinger.
Voluminous reports and wiretap transcripts reveal a pattern of official misconduct and incompetence in prosecuting the “war on gangs” over many years.
Sanchez issued the following statement after Wednesday’s hearing:
"On behalf of my family, community and close friends I extend the gratitude to all the people who have stood next to me and believed from the beginning that this case was a distraction from the work that has been the focus of Homies Unidos. I want to thank the We Are Alex campaign who created chapters in San Francisco New York, Los Angeles and the DC area, without you speaking out and the outraged by my arrest I would not have been able to have fought my case while on bail. Special thanks to all that trusted in me enough to put their homes and sureties that totaled the $2,000,000 bail. And to all that sent letters of support and wrote to me while I was in prison for those seven months. I will treasure those moments eternally.
"We have not stopped the work, which is greatly needed in our community, but our funding has suffered since my indictment. We expect that we will get more support for the programs that have been reduced significantly since the dismissal of the indictment.
"I will look back at this day and will be forever grateful of all who stood firmly next to me in this extremely difficult time and provided support to my family when they most needed it. I have taken my work seriously and with integrity and will continue to do so in the years ahead.
"Judge Dale Fischer dismissed all charges without prejudice, which gives the government until late March to re-file charges. We expect the Government to do the right thing and not re-file as they did on December 18 by recommending the dismissal of all charges after reviewing what the initial prosecutors had done to get the indictment.
"We will rebuild Homies Unidos!!!!!!!"