A federal judge issued a scalding reprimand to three murderous convicted Bronx street gang members before sentencing them to virtual life behind bars.
“You, sir, have forfeited your right to walk free in a civilized society,” Judge William Pauley told the defendents, all in their 20’s, shortly before imposing sentence Sept. 20 in Manhattan Federal Court.
Joshua Meregildo, 22, and Melvin Colon, also 22, were sentenced to life in prison without parole, while Earl Pierce, 27, received 50 years.
The trio were part of the Courtland Avenue Crew responsible for a drug-related shooting and murder spree in the South Bronx.
Twenty members and associates of gang have been convicted or pleaded guilty to federal charges including racketeering, murder, narcotics, and firearms offenses.
The gang, whose members ranged in age from 16 to 28, terrorized a major stretch of the Melrose neighborhood, along Courtlandt Avenue between 151st and 158th streets, across from the Jackson and Melrose houses, authorities said.
At the trio’s conviction last April, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said “The Courtlandt Avenue Crew cast a pall over the Bronx neighborhood in which it operated – terrorizing residents with lethal violence and flooding the streets with narcotics.”
He pledge after the convictions that the fight against drugs gangs will continue.
“While justice was done today, the destruction and despair wrought by gangs goes on and we will continue to bring the weight of the law down on them,” he said at the time.
The gang’s ultimate downfall began in June, 2010 when it got into a murderous turf war with a rival gang, officials said.
As Detectives Victor Harris and Jason Allison of the 40th Precinct squad and Detective James McSloy of Bronx Homicide began to notice a pattern of shootings and murders emerging, they started building links to the various cases. The pattern soon rose to potential federal prosecution of the gang, with agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives joining the detectives in putting a federal case together.
The three defendents in the latest sentencing, as well as a fourth, were convicted by a jury on Dec. 4, at the end of a nine-week trial.
The four showed no reaction as they sat at the defendants table hearing the jury’s verdicts, with the courtroom devoid of any family members.
Along with other charges, Meregildo, 22, was convicted of murdering Carrel Ogarro on July 31, 2010 at 300 E. 158th Street.
Colon, also 22, was also convicted of the August 27, 2010 murder of Delquan Alston at 285 E. 156th St., as well as involvement in the shooting of an innocent bystander on Sept. 8, 2011 at 600 Morris Ave.
Earl Pierce, 27, was also convicted of assaulting and trying to murder a rival drug dealer on Sept. 13, 2010 at 321 E. 153rd St.
Sixteen other gang members pleaded guilty earlier to various related charges, authorities said.