Two men in California will spend up to the rest of their natural lives in prison for their roles in a 2018 shooting at an illegal casino in Bakersfield.
Frankie Ramos and David Moore were found guilty last September on five counts, including attempted murder, assault with a firearm, and robbery.
Police say Ramos and Moore, along with two others, entered an internet gaming café on Baker Street in 2018 brandishing firearms. After disarming the security guard on site by firing a warning shot just over his head, the four stole cash from the business before fleeing.
The security guard pursued the men and fired a taser. Ramos and Moore returned fire, striking the guard twice. He survived.
Ramos and Moore were each sentenced today in the Superior Court of California — Kern County. Ramos received 25 years to life, plus 29 years and four months. Moore was handed 25 years to life, plus 25 years and four months.
Attorney Ben Schwartz of law firm Schwartz & Schwartz in Delaware explains that adding prison years to a life sentence is a judge’s way of making sure a convict spends considerable time behind bars.
When someone is sentenced to a life term, it may presumptively mean 25 years. A parole board may get a hold of the case after 25 years and have the opportunity to release the person from the life sentence of imprisonment. Giving someone life plus years, what the judge is doing is saying that these sentences have to run one after the other,” Schwartz explained.
The third defendant, Anesia Ribeiro, was acquitted of attempted murder, but pleaded no contest to burglary and gang charges. He received a six-year prison term.
The fourth defendant — Eric Grijalva — received 15 years in prison after pleading no contest to robbery and assault charges.
Crime on Crime
Unlicensed and unregulated — and therefore, illegal — internet casino and gambling dens have been raided by California police in recent years. The venues are often hidden in warehouses or behind disguised storefronts.
While the wounded security guard Ramos and Moore shot was simply doing his job, police say he was protecting an illicit gaming business.
The location of the shooting occurred at the California King Laundromat, which is accompanied by a used automobile lot called Las Vegas Auto Cars — though a street view from Google Maps captured in May of 2019 shows no cars on the lot.
Police confiscated the electronic games from the property. In early May of 2018, Bakersfield police say they had arrested 51 individuals that year alone for their involvement in unlicensed casino operations.
Law Levies Harsher Penalties
In September of 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed a bill that allows law enforcement to more easily seize assets from those who are found guilty of criminal profiteering.
Assembly Bill 1294, the California Control of Profits of Organized Crime Act, “provides for the procedure for the forfeiture of property and proceeds acquired through a pattern of criminal profiteering.
“Under existing law, criminal profiteering activity is defined as certain acts or threats made for financial gain or advantage that may be charged as specified crimes, including, among others, gambling,” the legislation reads. “This bill would include specified crimes within the definition of gambling for the purposes of these provisions.”
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