Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2014

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CRIME:

Gang informant facing life imprisonment after judge’s ruling on plea deal

A Clark County judge today rejected a police informant's efforts to back out of a controversial plea deal that led to the reassignment of two Metro Police gang detectives.

Raul “Sparks” Gonzalez, who became a gang informant for Metro while in jail in connection with a holdup of three men in 2011, entered the plea deal in return for his release from the Clark County Detention Center in December and dismissal of other charges related to the robbery.

But Gonzalez went back to jail three weeks after his release when he was accused of killing his girlfriend's uncle, Eric Montoya. According to a police report, Gonzalez told officers he was afraid Montoya was planning to retaliate against him for leaking information to police.

After being arrested in connection with Montoya’s death, Gonzalez requested to withdraw his plea in the robbery case. He said his court-appointed attorneys did not adequately explain the deal to him.

Today, Clark County District Judge David Barker rejected Gonzalez’s request, which means Gonzalez could now be sentenced as a habitual criminal in the robbery case and face life imprisonment as a result.

The Metro-backed plea bargain resulted in two officers being removed from the FBI-led Las Vegas Safe Streets Task Force. The deal was offered even though Gonzalez is a purported member of the 28th Street gang and has a violent criminal history that includes a voluntary manslaughter conviction in 2002.

An internal investigation by Metro found the officers should not have ordered his release.

FBI officials, meanwhile, have denied using Gonzalez as an informant or helping to free him.

Gonzalez has since pleaded not guilty in the murder case. A trial is scheduled for Oct. 13.

Citing concern for the officers' safety, Metro has refused to identify them.

Barker also denied a motion from attorney Casey Landis filed on behalf of Montoya's relatives to reveal the names of the five Metro officers.

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