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West Side gang associate pleads guilty to RICO charge

An associate of the Seventh Street Gang pleaded guilty Monday to a racketeering influenced corrupt organization (RICO) conspiracy charge before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara, federal prosecutors said.

Joseph Whitely, 26, sold heroin on behalf of the gang and served as the getaway driver for gang member Efrain Hidalgo, who murdered rival 10th Street Gang member Eric Morrow on Aug. 11, 2009, U.S. Attorney Williams J. Hochul Jr. said in a news release.

A total of 18 defendants were charged in the prosecution of the Seventh Street Gang, and all 18 defendants have now been convicted, Hochul said.

Whitely faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when he is sentenced in September.