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Attorney for Peoria ‘Bomb Squad’ member says client should have received a far lesser sentence

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The controversy surrounds the RICO act. Attorney Charles Schierer says it should not have been applied in the case.

While Schierer's client, 21-year-old Kentravion Watkins, maintains his innocence, the attorney says his client and other members of the "Bomb Squad" gang should not have been charged under the act. He says it's designed to take down crime families and mobs, not gangs.

Schierer says the victims deserve justice, but the 13 convicted men should not have been treated as a criminal enterprise.

"These kids are not organized, in fact, they are entirely disorganized. They were committing crimes against each other. They were robbing and shooting at each other, there was nothing organized about them," said Schierer.

He says Watkins, who was convicted on a gun charge, was sentenced to 19 years. He would only have had to serve two years, if it weren't for the RICO charge. Schierer says these men were ultimately part of gang for protection, their mission was not to run an enterprise.

The judge in this case, James Shadid, is barred from commenting and the Justice Department declined an interview.

In a previously issued press release, US Attorney John Milhiser called the sentence appropriate, saying it should send a message that violent and lawless behavior will not be tolerated.

Andy Weber

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