An alleged member of the MS-13 street gang charged federally with a Nassau County homicide was released from prison for six days because of a misunderstanding between the U.S. Justice Department and New York state prison officials, according to officials, court records and sources.
Ever Morales-Lopez, 26, of Freeport, who uses a number of gang names including "White Boy," had been charged in July by federal prosecutors with the 2016 killing of Kerin Pineda — who was believed to be a member of the rival 18th Street gang — as part of a nationwide federal crackdown on MS-13. Morales-Lopez was also charged with racketeering and conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana.
At the time of his federal indictment, Morales-Lopez was serving a sentence for drug conspiracy and due to be released from state prison in January of 2021.
But he was paroled on Sept. 3 under a program granting prisoners earlier release for good behavior, according to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision.
When the FBI found out about the release on Sept. 8, agents located and arrested him in his old neighborhood on Sept. 9, according to several sources.
Morales-Lopez was arraigned Thursday in federal court in Central Islip on the charges and held without bail as a flight risk and a danger to the community, court records show. If he is convicted of Pineda's murder, he could be eligible for the death penalty.
Federal prosecutors filed an arrest warrant for him at the time he was indicted and filed it with the National Crime Information Center — a compilation of records maintained by the FBI — but not directly with the state prison system, according to sources and records.
Thomas Mailey, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, said in a statement. "In order for an individual to be held on any warrant, DOCCS must be served by the issuing agency with the physical warrant, which we were not."
A spokesman for federal prosecutors, John Marzulli, declined to comment on the case.
Morales-Lopez was one of eight alleged MS-13 members charged in the July national federal sweep against MS-13 in connection with six homicides on Long Island, two attempted murders, and kidnapping and narcotics conspiracies, which was done in conjunction with the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office.
In Morales-Lopez’s case, he was accused of being one of the members of MS-13 who lured Pineda to a secluded wooded area near the Merrick-Freeport border, and served as a lookout while other gang members used machetes to hack and slash the victim to death.
The attorney for Morales-Lopez did not return requests for comment.