LOS ANGELES (AP) — A gang member who firebombed the homes of African Americans to force them out of a Los Angeles housing project was sentenced Monday to 13 years in federal prison.
Jose “Lil’ Moe” Saucedo, 25, was sentenced for what U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder called “a terribly violent crime,” according to a U.S. Department of Justice statement.
On Mother’s Day 2014, Saucedo and his fellow gang members smashed windows and threw Molotov cocktails into four apartments at Ramona Gardens, a heavily Hispanic housing project in Boyle Heights east of downtown, prosecutors said.
Three apartments housed African American families, including sleeping women and children, while the fourth held a Hispanic resident that the gang members targeted by mistake, prosecutors said.
Nobody was hurt.
“Saucedo played a primary role in the attacks, collecting glass bottles to be used as Molotov cocktails, supervising one of the two groups of co-conspirators, and throwing a firebomb into one of the targeted units,” according to the Justice Department statement.
Saucedo pleaded guilty last year to four felonies: conspiracy to violate civil rights, violent crime in aid of racketeering, interference with the Fair Housing Act and attempted arson of federal property.
“Racially motivated crimes are among the most disturbing offenses inflicted on a community,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in the statement. “Today’s sentence shows that criminals who are fueled by racial hatred - such as this defendant, who participated in a firebombing attack on innocent families while they slept - will face severe consequences.”
Six other people previously pleaded guilty to hate crimes and other charges. They include the ringleader, Carlos Hernandez, who pleaded guilty in April to five felonies, including civil rights violations. He faces at least 15 years in prison.