Latin Kings gangsters Jose “Tank” Escalera and Giovanni “Monte” Cotto were found guilty on Friday, following a week-long trial of retaliating against a witness. The indictment against the men were the result of a DEA-led investigation. They now face a maximum sentence of life in prison.
U.S. Attorneys stated that in 2014, both men ordered the assault of a witness testifying for the government at a federal trial that involved a murder. One of the defendants in that case was a member of the Latin Kings gang. Escalera and Cotto ordered the assault against the witness for testifying against their Latin King brother.
Back in 2014, the witness, after completing three days of testimony, was returned to the Cattaraugus County Jail where he was being detained. The following day, while in the recreation yard at the jail, the witness was viciously assaulted. The assault included multiple contusions and a broken jaw. The injuries resulted in the man undergoing surgery and having his jaw wired shut, preventing him from completing his testimony for several weeks.
Evidence presented by the government at the trial of Escalera and Cotto included the testimony of the assailant who was also charged and convicted for his role in the assault. The verdict is the result of an investigation by the DEA under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge James J. Hunt, New York Field Division, and the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Sheriff Timothy Whitcomb.
41-year-old Escalera is scheduled to be sentenced on October 18, 2017. 36-year-old Cotto will be sentenced on October 20, 2017.
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