Fourteen plead not guilty to gang indictments

Prosecution includes Palo Alto and East Palo Alto residents

Fourteen defendants, indicted in March for crimes related to their alleged involvement with East Palo Alto gangs, pleaded not guilty Monday to charges including murder, assault, narcotics trafficking and robbery, prosecutors said.

The defendants were charged in three gang indictments announced March 24. The case is dubbed "Operation Sunny Day" by San Mateo County prosecutors.

Prosecutors declined to seek the death penalty for two defendants -- 26-year-old Marvin Ware and 22-year-old Tyrone Love-Lopez -- but are still considering the death penalty for Raymond Bradford, 28.

Bradford, an alleged Da Vill gang member, faces the most charges in the indictments. Prosecutors allege he was involved in multiple murders, attempted murders and at least one armed robbery in 2012 and 2013.

In one murder case, prosecutors said he tracked rival gang members Stoney Gipson and Dwayne Henry to the now-closed Impala Club in San Francisco on Oct. 7, 2012, through information provided by Nina Cragg, 24, and an associate named "Butta Fresh."

Bradford went to the club along with Eric Vargas, 20, Emmanuel Hyland, 25, and Roberto Bustos-Montes, 24, to confront their two rivals. The three suspects followed their rivals out of the club and opened fire on their car. Gipson was found dead there early that morning.

Bradford and Hyland allegedly committed another murder together, shooting and killing Jonathan Alzacar, 24, and injuring another man in an East Palo Alto backyard on Jan. 14, 2013, prosecutors said.

Bradford also teamed up with Vargas and Ware to allegedly try to kill another rival gang member, Chariece Chew, on Sept. 8, 2012. The three men followed Chew from his mother's house in Hayward over the San Mateo Bridge to Belmont, then pulled alongside his car and opened fire. Chew and one of his two passengers were hit by gunfire and they crashed. The third passenger was injured in the crash.

Vargas, the alleged shooter, was arrested on Dec. 6, 2012. Ware tried to bribe Chew into testifying that Vargas was not the shooter, using Cragg and a jailhouse connection, Roshawn Bickham, to deliver the message to Chew, who was in custody for unrelated charges.

Bustos-Montes, Hyland, Love-Lopez, Ware and Cragg were indicted in another murder in East Palo Alto, on Jan. 26, 2013, for allegedly killing Lamont Coleman, 21, with a 12-gauge shotgun after believing he had cooperated with law enforcement, according to the indictment.

Bradford was named in a separate indictment alleging he, along with Leonard Gaines, Rodney Mitchell and Robert Wheller Jr., tried to rob Plaza Jewelers at 3303 Middlefield Road in unincorporated Menlo Park on Jan. 26, 2013. They then crashed as they fled the area and two of them were apprehended.

Bradford, Bustos-Montes, Cragg, Hyland, Love-Lopez, Vargas, Ware, and Bickham are all being held without bail. Donte Jordan, accused in the indictment of helping to prepare false testimony, is in custody on $500,000 bail.

In the robbery indictment, Gaines, Mitchell and Wheller remain in custody on $600,000 bail. A trial in that case is set to begin Jan. 20.

Related content:

District attorney indicts 16 alleged gang members

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Like this comment
Posted by Concrete Walls Forever
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 10, 2014 at 9:06 am

Let the pre-conviction squirming and twisting begin. Yah, lets play with these bugs a bit before we squish them. Thug life and all right? Fools, you're gonna miss out on so much life.

1 person likes this
Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2014 at 10:21 am

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

After these arrests, there was about a 6 month lull in any violent crime in East Palo Alto. I might be wrong on the exact dates, but March-September was quite quiet here. It further reinforces the notion that a very small percentage of the people living here are responsible for a huge percentage of the violent crime.

Like this comment
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Dec 10, 2014 at 10:59 am

I hope that if they don't get the death penalty, they at least get the MAXIMUM that can be given! NO MERCY. Regardless of who they killed, they gave no mercy to them.
The more our justice system takes a stand on REAL criminals, the more they may realize that its not the life to be in.

Like this comment
Posted by Raymond
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Dec 10, 2014 at 11:49 am

Wouldn't they gain more 'gang props' by pleading guilty? C'mon; man-up!

3 people like this
Posted by A Noun Ea Mus
a resident of Professorville
on Dec 10, 2014 at 1:05 pm

[Post removed.]

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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