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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Councilmen left to explain their support for an indicted anti-gang leader

The office of Councilman Ed Reyes gave Alex Sanchez $5,000 while Councilman Eric Garcetti praised Sanchez' nonprofit, Homies Unidos, as exactly what the city needed "to help eliminate its gang problem." Those expressions of support for Sanchez and his gang prevention program based near MacArthur Park now seem awkward at the very least after Sanchez was arrested on federal racketeering and conspiracy charges for his alleged role in a violent street gang.

Reyes was among those at City Hall who expressed shock at the federal indictments that were part of an investigation into the MS-13 street gang. The councilman, whose district extends from Highland Park to MacArthur Park, told the LA Times his office gave Homies Unidos $5,000 in 2007 for a youth soccer program.

"The organization filled a void and addressed the needs of youngsters," Reyes told The Times. "We are all disappointed to see this kind of occurrence amid all these challenges. My heart goes out to the kids and families that worked with him in the past.”

Federal prosecutors must still prove their case against Sanchez and the others who were indicted. It's not clear what this all means for Homies Unidos and its programs.

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