Plea deal gives ex-gangster 2 years


NASHUA - A former Folk gang member will spend at least two years in prison for threatening a woman and beating up a 17-year-old girl, but taxpayers will cover the girl's medical bills. Angel "Chino" Santos, 19, formerly of 4 Badger St., Nashua, had been scheduled to stand trial on witness tampering and burglary charges Tuesday in Hillsborough County Superior Court. Instead, Santos and his lawyer, Steve Maynard of Nashua, struck a deal with Assistant County Attorney Kent Smith to resolve all of Santos' pending charges, from three separate cases. Santos pleaded guilty to two felonies, witness tampering and second-degree assault, and was sentenced to two to five years in State Prison, with another two- to four-year sentence to remain suspended for four years after he gets out. The 337 days that Santos has already spent in jail since his last arrest will count toward his prison sentence. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to try to seek coverage through taxpayer-funded programs for medical bills for the young woman whom Santos admitted beating. The 17-year-old girl, a friend of a former girlfriend of Santos, suffered a broken eye socket after Santos punched her repeatedly in the face Feb. 28, police reported. The New Hampshire Healthy Kids program has already paid for some of the girl's treatment, Maynard said, and Smith and Maynard said they expect the girl's mother also may be reimbursed by the state Victims Compensation Fund. Healthy Kids is funded by a mix of federal and state tax money, as well as premiums paid by parents who don't qualify for full subsidy. The Victims Compensation Fund is funded by federal tax money and also from fines paid in some motor vehicle and criminal cases. Santos may be ordered to chip in to pay any remaining expenses that those programs won't cover, however, Judge Diane Nicolosi ruled. Santos refused to agree to pay full restitution for the medical bills as part of his plea bargain, however, Maynard said, because he argued the state might not have been able to prove his guilt, had he not admitted it. No one was injured in the witness-tampering case. In that case, Santos admitted that he and his cousin, Rodolfo "Smurf" Santos, went to the home of a city woman in May 2007 and told the mother and sister of another boy that they would kill the boy if he showed up to testify against Angel Santos in a misdemeanor assault case the following day in Nashua District Court. Santos was charged with burglary and two counts of witness tampering, all felonies punishable by up to 3-1/2 to seven years in prison. He pleaded guilty to one charge, and the others were dropped as part of his plea deal. Santos was free on bail in the witness-tampering case at the time of his arrest for beating up the girl and also was on probation from an assault conviction in 2006. Smith agreed to drop a bid to impose additional sentences from the 2006 case, too, as part of the plea bargain. Santos had received a suspended prison sentence in that case, after he admitted holding a man while another youth beat the man with a bat. Santos also was arrested in Massachusetts on robbery and weapons charges while free on bail in 2007, but the charges were dropped after witnesses and victims declined to cooperate, police reported. Santos was jailed after his arrest in March on assault and other charges, after he beat up the girl. Prosecutors argued at the time that his record of multiple prior convictions and pending felony charges justified a high bail, which Santos was unable to post. Santos has acknowledged being a former member of Nashua's Folk gang, according to police reports, but he apparently had a falling out with the group, and a judge ordered that he be held in protective custody or transferred out of Hillsborough County after his last arrest. Andrew Wolfe can be reached at 594-6410 or
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