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Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Steve "King Silence" Calderon pleaded guilty Monday to plotting the murder of a Latin Kings gang associate for "snitching" about a 2004 slaying in Bethlehem's Saucon Park.

09:18 |

— Steve "King Silence" Calderon hesitated before pleading guilty Monday in federal court to plotting the murder of a Latin King gang associate for "snitching" about a 2004 slaying in Bethlehem's Saucon Park.

Calderon, 28, told his attorney he didn't want to admit to a conspiracy because the murder never happened. But federal prosecutors have his words on tape urging other gang members to get revenge for the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation.

In October 2008, Calderon and other members of the Bethlehem Sun Tribe of the Latin Kings agreed to murder a gang associate named Ant. Calderon and other gang members determined Ant had cooperated with police to put Neftali "King Nefti" Colon in prison for killing Eugene Martinez, a Latin King from the Bronx, court documents say.

"[Colon] is in jail for the Nation, so we got to take care of it, that's it," Calderon said in a secretly recorded conversation, court documents say.

Calderon and fellow members of the Bethlehem Sun Tribe agreed they would take turns shooting the victim so none of them would be in a position to cooperate with law enforcement. Calderon discussed shooting Ant and a second associate also blamed for Colon's conviction in a "mob-style hit" as they got into a car.

The murders were prevented when Calderon was arrested on an unrelated warrant, court documents say. Calderon's attorney, Kathryn Roberts, explained to her client that the act of discussing the murder was evidence of the conspiracy.

Calderon sobbed as U.S. District Judge Joel H. Slomsky reviewed his plea agreement. In addition to conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, Calderon pleaded guilty to conspiring to participate in a racketeering enterprise and distribution of crack cocaine.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Gallagher said Calderon is guaranteed a sentence of 135 months — more than 11 years — in federal prison under the plea agreement. The judge, however, has discretion to impose whatever supervised release and fines he determines are appropriate.

By pleading guilty, Calderon avoids a potential life sentence.

Calderon is one of 12 Latin Kings leaders indicted on murder conspiracy and racketeering charges as a result of a three-year investigation by federal and Lehigh Valley law enforcement authorities.

Calderon is the fifth gang leader charged in the racketeering indictment to plead guilty. The remaining seven are scheduled to stand trial in June.

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