LAS VEGAS (CN) - After Las Vegas Metro Police and the FBI made a violent felon an informant, he murdered a father of four to keep it a secret, the dead man's family claims in court.
Instead of jailing a violent felon for life, officers freed him long enough to murder Eric Montoya, then lied about his being an informant, Montoya's four children and common-law wife claim in a Jan. 7 lawsuit in Federal Court.
Maria Landeros, the mother of Montoya's four sons, claims the FBI-led Las Vegas Safe Streets Gang Task Force made Raul "Sparks" Gonzalez an informant, though he was not qualified for it due to convictions for violent felonies.
Gonzalez is a "high-ranking member" of the 28th Street gang, a criminal organization engaged in "murder, robbery, kidnapping, drug trafficking and the illegal firearms transactions," the Montoyas says the complaint.
While Gonzalez was jailed on a gun charge in December 2013 and facing life in prison after a 2011 robbery, Landeros says Las Vegas Metro Police Det. David Fink and others recruited him to be a police informant. He was to provide information on the 28th Street gang to the Las Vegas Safe Streets Task Force, led by the FBI and including the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD).
Fink - who is not named as a defendant - knew Gonzalez as a "prolific member and 'shot-caller' within the 28th Street gang," and helped recruit him as an informant, though he should have been barred because of a 2002 conviction for voluntary manslaughter with use of a deadly weapon with the intent to promote, further, or assist a criminal gang, Landeros says in the complaint.
The Clark County District Attorney's Office on Dec. 20, 2013 dropped 10 of 12 pending charges against Gonzalez, and he pleaded guilty to one count of armed robbery and one count of conspiracy, with sentencing scheduled for April 2014. The judge released him without bail after accepting "a deal cut by federal agents and local authorities," and simply warned him: "Stay out of trouble and keep in contact with police," the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported at the time.
Eleven days later, on New Year's Eve, Gonzalez was riding in a truck with Eric Montoya and Montoya's niece, whom Gonzalez was dating and who was driving, when North Las Vegas police Officer Randy Salyer stopped them for a traffic violation.
Salyer found an unregistered handgun in the truck, yet allowed all three to leave, though Gonzalez admitted the gun was his and there was an active misdemeanor warrant for Montoya, according to the complaint.
"Officer Salyer learned that Gonzalez was a LVMPD confidential informant when he ran Gonzalez through the police database" and "was told to allow the group to depart without arrest or citation based on Gonzalez's confidential informant status," Landeros says.
Salyer is not named as a defendant.
After seeing Gonzalez released though he'd admitted possessing the unregistered handgun, Landeros says, Montoya suspected Gonzalez was working for the police and he told her so several days later.
"He told me: 'Babe, I think he's an informant. Don't ever repeat it. Don't ever say nothing about it,'" Landeros told the Review-Journal.
Landeros says Safe Streets Task Force officers knew that "Montoya rationally concluded that Gonzalez was a confidential informant," and that Gonzalez told them "he was worried that Montoya would speak to others and ruin the value Gonzalez possessed to the task force," which could send him to prison.