HAMMOND — A federal judge sentenced a member of the Latin King street gang to prison Friday for racketeering.
U.S. District Court Judge Philip P. Simon imposed a 240-month sentence on Nicholas "Cali" Baez, 24, of Hammond, who pleaded guilty last year to participating in racketeering activity including the 2014 homicide of Raudel Contreras Jr., 26, of Hammond, at the now-shuttered Estrella's Bar in Hammond.
He had faced life in prison and a $250,000 fine, but agreed to plead guilty under an agreement that limited his sentence to less than 30 years.
Baez also agreed to cooperate with the U.S. attorney's office in other proceedings.
The government alleges the Latin Kings are involved in drug dealing and violence and Baez's family said he became involved in gang activity when they moved from Dyer to Hammond. He was involved patrolling Latin King territory, paid gang dues, attended gang meetings and possessed firearms.
The government alleges he was a drug user, consuming marijuana daily between ages 16 and 22, occasionally used cocaine between ages 21 and 23, and used Xanax, a tranquilizer, between the ages of 21 and 22.
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Baez also had juvenile court adjudications for battery and resisting law enforcement and prior adult convictions for possession of marijuana and operating a vehicle while intoxicated, according to a memo the U.S. attorney's office filed with the court earlier.
The government alleged the Latin Kings were allegedly angry the bar owner had allowed members of the Latin Dragons, a rival gang, to patronize the establishment and Baez went to the bar with the intention of burning it down.
When it appeared the bar was too busy that night, Baez instead opened fire at the business in the 4700 block of Hohman Avenue, according to the indictment. Contreras was wounded in the shooting and later died at Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, Illinois. He was the only person hit by the gunfire.