A federal judge Monday sentenced the longtime leader of the Orange County chapter of the Mexican Mafia to 15 years in prison, which is where the 74-year-old has already spent the past decade.
Prosecutors had sought a 17-year term, but U.S. District Judge James Selna said "humanitarian reasons" prompted him to show Peter Ojeda some mercy, although the lifetime criminal won't have a chance at freedom until he is in his late 80s.
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For decades, Ojeda ran the Mexican Mafia inside and outside prison. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe McNally says Ojeda has shown he is dangerous to society even while held within prison walls, but the defendant's attorney Craig Wilke claimed Ojeda is an old man who could not possibly run a criminal enterprise.
Selna conceded Ojeda displayed "special cunning and danger" while running the street and prison gang but also argued he "will be substantially diminished" for the rest of his years behind bars.
When Selna told Ojeda he will have to change his life for the rest of his term, the defendant answered he understood that.
In 2005, Ojeda was convicted of racketeering, and he was a year away from being released from prison when he was arrested in 2011, again for racketeering and criminal conspiracy to commit murder and assault. He and his one-time girlfriend, Suzie Rodriguez, were found guilty in January. She is scheduled to be sentenced in June.