Ismael Lopez didn't fire any of the guns that killed two innocent bystanders 11 years ago. Nevertheless, he's going to prison for the rest of his life.
Lopez, a member of the 10th Street Gang, was convicted of murder and conspiracy charges for his role is plotting and carrying out a shooting that targeted rival 7th Street Gang members but instead left two others dead.
"Today, I'm facing life in prison," he told U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara on Monday. "That's a death sentence."
The life sentence imposed by Arcara was mandatory under federal law.
As he did during his trial, Lopez claimed he was innocent and, therefore, unable to express remorse or apologize.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi, the lead prosecutor in the 10th Street Gang case, countered by detailing Lopez's role in the 2006 murders of Brandon McDonald and Darinell Young.
Young and McDonald, who were not gang members, were killed when four other 10th Street members opened fire on a group of people they suspected were 7th Street members.
Tripi said Lopez drove the shooters to the murder scene and was well aware of the plot to kill rival gang members.
"He was integral in putting the players in place," Tripi told Arcara. "The defendant, therefore, is as liable as the people who pulled the trigger."
Lopez was convicted during a jury trial that also resulted in the convictions of three other gang members – Matthew Smith, Jonathan Delgado and Domenico Anastasio.
In sentencing Lopez, Arcara made note of the long, bloody feud between the two West Side gangs and the "lawlessness" that permeated the neighborhood.
Lopez's sentence is the result of an investigation by the FBI's Safe Streets Task Force and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.