One of New Jersey's most notorious gang leaders was sentenced to 188 months in federal prison Tuesday, the judge ignoring the man's claims that his past actions were those of "an angry young man" who has changed and is seeking to leave gang life behind him. Shackled and standing humbly before U.S. District Judge Stanley Chesler, Vincent Young — whose nicknames include "No Good" and "Big Head" — cut a far less menacing figure than the one portrayed by the U.S. Attorney's Office in court filings as the mastermind of a criminal organization that specialized in drugs, carjackings, kidnappings, witness intimidation and murder. That the 42-year-old Young ascended to his position while he was in prison for manslaughter brought a few curiosity-seekers to court Tuesday. "I thought he'd be bigger," one woman was overheard saying about the stocky, 5-foot-7 Young. According to court filings and Young's own admissions, he moved from Los Angeles to New Jersey in the early 1990s and was convicted of aggravated manslaughter for killing a man in a fight in Cape May County in 1993. While in prison in New Jersey, he founded the Fruit Town Brims set of the Bloods and directed its activities, prosecutors claim, and became one of the state's most powerful gang leaders. "During two decades he didn't try to leave gang life behind," Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Jampol told the court. "He established the structure of an extremely violent enterprise. He didn't have to be out on the street pulling the trigger; he was higher than that." Young was one of 15 alleged Fruit Town Brims members indicted in January 2011 and charged with being part of a racketeering enterprise. Authorities had first identified members of the set several years earlier, and initially brought an indictment in 2007. Defense attorney Gregory Tomczak argued Tuesday that Young should be credited for the years he spent in prison while the case against him and the other gang members proceeded, but Chesler disagreed. When it came time for Young to speak to the court, he appeared contrite. "I'd like to apologize to those who were innocent and received any harm," he said. "I never wanted nobody to get hurt that was innocent. I was an angry young man back then, 3,000 miles away from my family. I made choices and I was wrong. "I'm ready to do my time and go home and the only thing I'm going to try to be in charge of is my family — but I'll probably be second there behind my wife," he said. Chesler was unmoved, and called Young's remorse "a figment of his imagination." He said he considered exceeding the 188-month sentence, which was recommended as the upper limit under federal guidelines. "Quite frankly, this court finds the prospect terrifying that someone who is in jail can run an organization that follows his direction and kills people, attempts to kill people and sells drugs all over the place," the judge said. "His conduct, either directly or indirectly, has led to people being terrorized."
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