TAMPA — Once again, a judge has dismissed criminal charges against defendants in the Latin Kings gang case.
Circuit Judge Daniel Sleet on Monday dismissed the case against Michael "King Michael" Lugo and Omari "King Omari" Tolbert, who each were accused of racketeering. Lugo and Tolbert also faced charges that included kidnapping with a firearm, aggravated battery and aggravated assault.
They stood accused with others of beating gang member Alexander Perez Valdez in May 2006. Law enforcement monitored the meeting with audio and visual surveillance but didn't intervene until 30 minutes after the beating.
"Obviously, I'm thrilled, and I'm thrilled for the clients," said Lyann Goudie, one of the defense attorneys. "I think the judge did a great job and the right thing."
Sleet previously dismissed charges against 23 defendants arrested during an Aug. 20, 2006, raid of a statewide Latin Kings leadership meeting by the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office.
The judge ruled that the gang was dormant for several months before law enforcement encouraged an informer — a felon with multiple convictions — to revive it, then stood by as he committed crimes and threatened people with violence if they did not attend meetings.
A spokeswoman for the State Attorney's Office declined to comment Monday.