Though 32 years old, Vince Gabriel Gaborno has compiled a 17-year criminal rap sheet that includes robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, attempted burglary, repeated illegal gun and knife possessions, multiple parole and probation violations, drug dealing and membership in a Mexican Mafia tied street gang, the Latin Kings.
But this week inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana, a distraught Gaborno–who used the gang moniker "Youngster"–had a message for U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna and a large group of supporters who'd gathered in the courtroom.
"I accept responsibility for my mistakes," said a tearful Gaborno, who had been sent to prison on three prior occasions. "I'm ready to do whatever it takes [to turn my life around]."
The defendant got permission to face the courtroom audience so that he could apologize directly to his supporters for the "pain" his life of crime and drugs has caused them.
Selna appeared visibly touched by the remarks, said he believes the defendant's sincerity, but still sentenced him to a term of 84 months in federal prison for conspiring to sell more than 100 grams of heroin in Santa Ana while on probation for two other crimes.
Nearly a dozen of Gaborno's relatives and friends attended the hearing, and based on a defense lawyer recommendation had hoped for the statutory minimum punishment: 60-months. Two of the attendees addressed Selna, saying they believe the defendant is a good person who desperately needs a 500-hour drug intervention program.
Law enforcement officers arrested Gaborno, the father of an eight-year-old boy, in May 2010 while he was driving high on heroin in Cypress and possessing a spring-loaded dagger, according to court records.
Selna ordered the defendant banned from future gang participation, associating with gangsters, wearing any gang colors, or visiting locations where hoodlums congregate.
According to jail records, Gaborno remains today in the custody of U.S. marshals inside the Santa Ana Jail. He will be bused to prison in coming days.