Local MS-13 leader sentenced to two life terms plus 50 years
August 15, 2013 at 7:06 PM EST - Updated July 11 at 4:55 AM
RICHMOND, VA (WWBT)
The convicted leader of the local MS-13 gang will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Thursday, a federal judge sentenced José Bran to two life terms plus fifty years in prison.
Tensions ran high inside the courtroom with both Bran and attorneys choking up as they addressed the federal judge before the sentence was handed down. That judge told Bran, "Quite frankly, you are lucky you are not standing here facing a death sentence."
Judge Robert Payne called the conduct behind the five counts "utterly atrocious." Back in May, jury convicted Bran of murder in the aid of racketeering, maiming in the aid of racketeering, two conspiracy counts and a gun charge. He explained he was handing down the two life terms plus fifty years in prison because he has "to promote respect for the law by all people, including those people who come to this country and take advantage of its many benefits."
But even Thursday, Bran said he had nothing to do with the murder of Osbin Hernandez-Gonzales at Pony Pasture in the summer of 2011 and the group stabbing of a man on the south side in January of 2012. He was convicted of ordering those hits.
"He made a very, very bad decision to join a very, very bad organization and associate with very, very bad people and they came into the trial in the courtroom and pointed a finger at him," explained defense attorney John Rockecharlie.
Before he was sentenced the 30-year-old apologized to the stabbing victim and the family of Hernandez-Gonzales. Federal prosecutor, Roderick C. Young, said the ordeal has left an emotional wound for Osbin's mother that will never heal and that she cries daily.
Bran was also emotional.
"He's obviously upset," Rockecharlie described. "He maintains his innocence. He says he is not the person that the witnesses against him painted him to be."
The convicted MS-13 leader was placed on suicide watch after the verdicts came in. His attorneys asked the judge to order mental health treatment continued in prison.
"He's coming to understand that his life is going to be very, very different from here on out," Rockecharlie added.
At minimum, Bran was facing life in prison as the gang murder charge came with that mandatory sentence.