Gang member gets extra prison time after denying role in fatal beating

An MS-13 gang member who was set to get a 7-year sentence for taking part in a savage beating got another 3 years tacked on to his sentence for denying he did it after he pleaded guilty.

Jeovani Guzman Hernandez, 28, of Kings Park, had been one of three men charged with second-degree murder in a June 2011 melee outside a Brentwood pool hall that left Rumaldo Bethancourt Lopez dead. Guzman Hernandez pleaded guilty in May to first-degree gang assault.

As part of the plea deal, State Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen warned him that he must talk truthfully about the crime when the Probation Department interviews him for its pre-sentence report.


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Instead, Guzman Hernandez told the probation officer that he left when the fight started and wasn't there when Bethancourt Lopez and Ramiro Garcia were beaten. Garcia has a titanium plate in his face and is partly paralyzed.

"This is entirely inconsistent with the defendant's guilty plea," said Assistant District Attorney Glenn Kurtzrock, who asked Cohen to sentence Guzman Hernandez to 15 years.

Defense attorney Natasja Bellinger of West Islip said her client stood by his guilty plea. Cohen then asked Guzman Hernandez about the probation interview through an interpreter.

Guzman Hernandez blamed a bad interpreter for his answers to the probation officer. "It was all a misunderstanding with the probation person," he said.

Cohen rejected that explanation, noting that Guzman Hernandez speaks English fluently, and sentenced him to 10 years.

Jairon Gonzales Martinez was sentenced to 33 years to life after he was convicted of second-degree murder. Alcides Gomez is awaiting trial.

Prosecutors say all three men and others attacked the victims outside the Fiesta Pool Hall with bricks, bats and metal pipes.

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