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Friday, November 02, 2012
Semi–Automatic Firearm Sends Gang Member and Registered Sex Offender to Federal Prison
A Sioux City gang member and registered sex offender whose
criminal activity was discovered as part of the investigation of a May 1, 2007,
drive–by shooting in Sioux City, Iowa, was sentenced today to five years in
Rocky Joe Grimaldo, 28, from Sioux City, Iowa, received
the prison term after a July 12, 2012, guilty plea to one count of being a
felon in possession of a firearm.
According to information presented in court by the United
States, sometime during April 2007, Victor Gutierrez, Jonathan Torres–Ortiz,
Alejandro Guerrero–Valadez, Rocky Joe Grimaldo, a/k/a Grasshopper; Noel
Perez–Plascencia, and Justin Albertsen, all members of a Sioux City street
gang, traveled from Sioux City, Iowa, into the Nebraska countryside where they
each possessed – and shot approximately 100 rounds from – a Norinco 7.62X39 mm
SKS semi–automatic firearm with an obliterated serial number that was capable
of accepting a large capacity magazine. Since Grimaldo had already been
convicted of felony assault with intent to commit sexual abuse in Woodbury
County, Iowa, his possession of a firearm violated federal law.
Grimaldo’s federal firearm crime was discovered as a part
of the investigation of a May 1, 2007, Sioux City, Iowa drive–by shooting. On
that day, Alejandro Guerrero–Valadez, Victor Gutierrez, a juvenile, and another
man, perpetrated a gang–related drive–by shooting at a home in Sioux City,
Iowa. The house was targeted because it was thought to be the home of a rival
street gang member. The night of the drive–by shooting, the four men drove to
the home. They drove by slowly once, but then reversed course and accelerated.
As they passed the home the second time, Gutierrez fired numerous rounds out of
the moving vehicle’s window at the victim’s home, cars, and garage. The
occupied house, the garage, and the cars were hit several times with bullets.
Immediately after the drive–by shooting, the foursome hid
the firearm at Justin Albertsen’s home. Later Gutierrez and another gang member
told Jonathan Torress–Ortiz of the shooting and asked Ortiz to hide or destroy
the gun. Ortiz hid the gun for the next six months and repeatedly lied to law
enforcement about the gun’s location.
Sometime in early 2008, Grimaldo, and Albertsen, fled to
Des Moines, Iowa, in the hope that they could escape prosecution for their
federal crimes. In doing so, Grimaldo also violated his Dakota County,
Nebraska, Probation for Possession of Burglary Tools. In the Spring of 2011,
when Grimaldo was finally located by law enforcement, he, Albertsen, and
another member of their street gang were in possession of, with the intent to
distribute, 15 pounds of marijuana.
Grimaldo was sentenced in Sioux City by Senior United
States District Court Judge Donald E. O’Brien. Grimaldo was sentenced to 60
months’ imprisonment. A special assessment of $100 was imposed. He must also
serve a three–year term of supervised release after the prison term, during
which time he may not associate with members or associates of any street gang.
There is no parole in the federal system.
For their connections to the firearm: (1) on June 8, 2012,
Albertsen, was sentenced to 32 months’ imprisonment and a special assessment of
$100; (2) on March 23, 2009, Perez–Plascencia was sentenced to 57 months’
imprisonment and ordered to pay a $100 special assessment; (3) on February 12,
2009, Gutierrez, the shooter during the drive–by, was sentenced to 150 months’
imprisonment and a special assessment of $600; and (4 and 5) on October 17,
2008, Valadez and Ortiz were both sentenced for their connection to the
firearm. Valadez was sentenced to 63 months’ imprisonment and ordered to pay a $100
special assessment. Ortiz was sentenced to 37 months’ imprisonment and ordered
to pay a $100 special assessment. All of these men must also serve three years’
supervised release following prison, during which time they may not associate
with members or associates of any street gang.
Grimaldo is being held in the United States Marshal’s
custody until he can be transported to federal prison.
Court file information is available at
https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi/login.pl. The relevant case numbers are
08–4070; 07–4092; 07–4052; 08–4017; 08–4004; and 08– 4056.
This case was prosecuted as part of Project Safe
Neighborhoods, a cooperative local, state, and federal program aimed at the
enhanced prosecution of gun crimes. The case was investigated by the Department
of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; the
Department of Justice’s United States Marshals Service; the Department of
Homeland Security; and Sioux City Police Department’s Gang Enforcement Unit.
The case was prosecuted by Dakota County, Nebraska County Attorney Kim Watson
and Assistant United States Attorney Forde Fairchild.