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Member of gang from Buffalo’s West Side gets 57 months in federal prison

Another member of the street gang rivalry that terrorized Buffalo’s West Side is going to prison.

Sammy Ortiz, 28, a member of the Seventh Street Gang, was sentenced Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara to 57 months in federal prison.

Ortiz had previously admitted being part of a drug-dealing gang that protected its West Side turf through violence and intimidation. He pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy.

“I want to apologize to the court,” Ortiz told Arcara. “And I want to apologize to my family.”

Arcara pointed to family members in the courtroom and mentioned the numerous letters of support for him, including one from Common Council Member David A. Rivera of the Niagara District, a Buffalo police officer. Rivera, who represents the neighborhood where the gang operated, said Ortiz attended his church and was an active volunteer.

“He is a man of faith,” Rivera wrote in his letter, which appeared on Council letterhead. “I am very much surprised by this situation.”

Ortiz is the latest Seventh Street Gang member to go to prison after admitting to taking part in a bloody feud with the 10th Street Gang that included shootings and murders.

Overall, more than 50 members of the two gangs have been convicted and imprisoned.

The convictions are the result of an investigation by the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force and Buffalo police and a prosecution led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi.