Federal prosecutors promised on Tuesday to provide a ground-level look inside the deeds of the Newburgh Latin Kings, including the bloody 24 hours that left two young men dead in 2010. In an opening argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Park Chung said prosecutors would offer recordings of drug deals and the secret weekly meetings conducted by the gang as its power grew in the last years of the decade. He promised the gang's own members would testify against two purported leaders who are now on trial with two alleged associates. "This trial is about a violent and vicious gang that terrorized the City of Newburgh," Chung said. The four defendants — Nelson Calderon, Angelo Deleon, Wilfredo Sanchez and Eva Cardoza — are the first of 31 defendants named in two federal indictments to challenge racketeering charges at trial. The defendants were separated into three groups based on charges. Calderon's group faces the second most-serious charges. A trial of defendants who would be death-penalty-eligible if convicted is expected to begin in early 2013. Chung said Calderon, known as King Murder, was once the leader or First Crown in the Kings' hierarchy. Deleon, or King Truth, was the gang's chief marijuana dealer, Chung said. Prosecutors will try to paint Sanchez and Cardoza as crucial allies, if not full-fledged Kings. Along with storing guns at her Broadway apartment, Cardoza served as the getaway driver after the murder of 21-year-old John "Tarzan" Maldonado in 2010, Chung said. The prosecutor described a version of the killing that has long circulated in Newburgh's neighborhoods. According to Chung, Maldonado and Jerome "Rude Boy" Scarlett were hoping to become full members when they were tapped to shoot rival Blood members in March 2010. Scarlett died instead. "The Latin Kings concluded after some confusion that it was actually Tarzan who shot Rude Boy," Chung said. As punishment, according to Chung, the Kings lured Maldonado into a trap the next day, executing him in the street. Lawyers for each of the defendants will have an opportunity to make opening statements. Attorney Steven Brill spoke on behalf of his client, Sanchez, who he said lived in the heart of Latin King territory, had two brothers who are suspected members and even facilitated the occasional drug deal. However, Brill said, Sanchez purposely chose not to join the gang or conspiracy, even though he could have easily. "There's no such thing as guilt by association," Brill told jurors. The trial will continue on Wednesday morning with more opening statements.
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