A judge has dropped criminal charges against a Uniondale man who insisted in a court outburst after his June arrest in an MS-13 gang sweep that he wasn’t part of the crime syndicate.
Luis Mancia, 21, had faced up to life in prison on a first-degree conspiracy charge after prosecutors accused him and 40 others of carrying out crime in the gang’s name as alleged members of MS-13.
But acting State Supreme Court Justice Teresa Corrigan said in a Monday ruling there was no evidence Mancia was a member or an “enforcer” for the gang. She also found insufficient evidence that he conspired with others to commit murder and felony assault.
“I am not a MS-13 member . . . I beg you to hear me!” Mancia had cried out to Corrigan at his June 15 arraignment on multiple conspiracy charges.
“He’s overwhelmingly happy that justice prevailed,” Mancia’s defense attorney, Michael DerGarabedian, said Friday. “This was not simply wrongfully accusing him of a crime he didn’t commit. This was wrongfully labeling him as being a gang member . . . and that put him in a perilous position.”
The Rockville Centre lawyer said his client was at first housed in Nassau’s jail with MS-13 members, one of whom punched him in the face. DerGarabedian said the gang members also threatened to label his client a snitch if he didn’t join MS-13. He said Mancia got out of jail June 29 after the judge lowered his bail.
Records show the conspiracy charges were based partly on Mancia’s alleged threats against victims of what authorities said was a September 2015 assault by MS-13 members who attacked three people with rocks, a chain, a bat and a machete.
Authorities arrested Mancia, a restaurant worker, in November 2015 on victim intimidation and witness tampering charges. They alleged he threatened two victims of that attack to try to get them to drop charges against one of the accused attackers. Mancia later pleaded guilty to resisting arrest and got two years of probation.
DerGarabedian’s arguments for dismissal of his client’s conspiracy charges included that Mancia wasn’t part of MS-13 and that several witnesses had provided statements saying he didn’t threaten anyone.
A spokesman in the Nassau district attorney’s office declined to comment Friday.