TAMPA — The Hillsborough State Attorney's Office won't try to salvage its racketeering cases against 23 purported Latin Kings gang members with an appeal.
The decision comes two weeks after a judge dismissed the charges in a sternly worded order and days after he refused to allow a prosecutor to argue her case at a rehearing.
Prosecutors offered little insight into the decision to forgo an appeal, citing the charges that remain against a handful of defendants.
"After a review of the court's order and consultation with the Attorney General's Office, the State Attorney's Office has decided not to appeal the matter," Assistant State Attorney Pam Bondi said Monday.
Today was the deadline to appeal to the 2nd District Court of Appeal.
Prosecutors "basically are saying we believe the judge's ruling is correct, according to the law," said defense attorney Lyann Goudie, who wrote and argued the motion to get the case dismissed. "Frankly, I think it shows a lot of integrity on the part of (State Attorney) Mark Ober."
More than 50 defendants faced racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering charges after a publicized raid of an Aug. 20, 2006, gang meeting. By the time Goudie filed her motion, 28 still claimed their innocence.
Hillsborough Circuit Judge Daniel Sleet ruled April 7 that the Tampa branch of the Latin Kings had been dormant for several months before the FBI and Tampa Police Department encouraged a confidential informant — a felon with multiple convictions — to revive it. The judge said law enforcement provided too little supervision as the informant committed new crimes and threatened people with violence if they did not attend meetings.
Sleet found no evidence that 23 of the defendants had committed a crime.
Colleen Jenkins can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3337.