Man given 15 years for firing on FBI during '11 Verona standoff
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A fugitive who opened fire on the FBI during a Verona standoff last year was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer imposed that term on Frank Perez Jr., who fired some 25 shots at SWAT team agents when they tried to arrest him on Oct. 4.
Perez, 31, an ex-gang member wanted in connection with a 1999 murder in Indiana and a kidnapping in Mexico, had been living quietly in Verona under an assumed name with his fiancee and young son when the FBI tracked him down last year.
Agents called his fiancee, Rickisha Edwards, away from the apartment and asked her to return to retrieve her baby so he wouldn't be harmed when they swept in.
They surrounded the house and told Perez to come out with his hands up, but instead he ran upstairs and started shooting with two pistols and a shotgun.
Bullets struck neighboring houses and fences, but no one was hit. The FBI fired tear gas canisters into the apartment and eventually talked Perez into giving up.
In court, Perez apologized to everyone and asked the judge for leniency so he could be a father and husband.
"I need a chance," he said. "I take full responsibility for all my actions that transpired on that day."
Ms. Edwards, who said she had known him as Troy Will East, testified that he was a good dad to their son, born in March 2011, and to her 12-year-old daughter. She said he had never shown any violence during the 31/2 years she had been living with him.
His mother, Margaret Velasquez, said he had lost his biological father at a young age and was exposed to the criminal life in gang-plagued East Chicago, Ind., by his stepfather. At age 8, she said, he saw his first homicide victim -- a man shot in an alley behind his house.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy Rivetti countered that not everyone who grows up in a bad environment ends up killing people and firing on the FBI.
He said a stiff sentence would send a message to others who might shoot at federal agents and would protect society from a dangerous man.
"He must not be allowed to wreak havoc again," he said.
The judge said there was no basis for leniency and gave Perez close to the maximum.
He will be allowed to serve his term at a prison closest to his Indiana home. Ms. Edwards said she will move her family there to be near him.
First Published August 8, 2012 12:00 am