General Crime

Michael Ortiz Sr. Father of Gang Member Sentenced For Helping Him Flee After Committing Three Murders

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A San Bruno man has been sentenced in federal court in San Francisco to five years and 10 months in prison for crimes including helping his son flee to Mexico after committing three gang-related murders in South San Francisco. Michael Ortiz Sr., 50, was sentenced Friday by U.S. District Judge Susan Illston.

He pleaded guilty in July to being an accessory after the fact to gunfire murders committed by his son, Joseph Ortiz, 23, of South San Francisco, on Dec. 22, 2010. The senior Ortiz also pleaded guilty to conspiring to obstruct justice, obstructing justice and concealing guns used in the shootings. Michael Ortiz Sr. and Joseph Ortiz were among 19 alleged members and associates of a South San Francisco Nortenos-affiliated gang who were indicted last year on various charges including racketeering, murder, theft and drug dealing.

The gang was known as the 500 Block/C Street gang, which prosecutors said was formerly two separate gangs that later merged. Joseph Ortiz pleaded guilty before Illston in July to three racketeering murders and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 8. The victims were three young men perceived to be members of a rival gang. Three other young men were wounded in the attack. Three other defendants are also accused of the murders and are awaiting trial. They are Victor Flores, 21, of Petaluma, and Justin Whipple, 20, of San Bruno, who are alleged to have been shooters, and Benjamin Campos-Gonzalez, 22, of San Mateo, their alleged driver.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag said a total of 14 of the original 19 defendants have pleaded guilty to crimes related to racketeering or obstruction of justice. Prosecutors said Michael Ortiz Sr. admitted to driving his son and the son’s girlfriend out of the Bay Area the day after the murders and later helping them flee to Mexico.

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