LOS ANGELES – A federal jury today found a La Verne woman guilty of federal criminal charges related to her role as a “secretary” to an imprisoned Mexican Mafia “shot caller” who controlled Latino gangs in Pomona, including facilitating an armed robbery and shooting, as well as distribution of narcotics and extortion.
Kelly Deshannon, 42, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, one count of committing a violent crime in support of racketeering activity (VICAR), and one count of using a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime.
According to evidence presented at a five-day trial, Deshannon served as a secretary to Seferino Gonzalez, an imprisoned shot caller of the Michael Lerma Cell of the Mexican Mafia. From prison, Gonzalez exerted control over Latino gangs, including overseeing drug trafficking and other offenses committed in Pomona. As a secretary, Deshannon helped facilitate an attempted armed robbery of car keys to a Mercedes-Benz SUV on July 14, 2013, which resulted in the shooting of a victim. Deshannon knew the victims’ address, that the victims had access to the car keys, and had spoken to the victims. On the night of the shooting, Deshannon brought the shooter and other defendants with her to the victims’ address and pointed out a victim to her accomplices. The victim, though wounded, survived the attack.
Deshannon’s other criminal conduct included broking drug sales and collecting extortionate taxes in Lerma Cell territory.
Lerma, who is this case’s lead defendant, was indicted in 2018 and has pleaded not guilty to RICO conspiracy and multiple other federal charges. His trial is scheduled for July 23, 2024. He is in federal custody.
United States District Judge George H. Wu scheduled an October 26 sentencing hearing, at which time Deshannon will face a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
At the conclusion of a 10-day trial in March 2023, a federal jury found Deshannon not guilty of attempted carjacking and deadlocked on four other counts. At the request of federal prosecutors, Judge Wu on June 28 dismissed one VICAR count against Deshannon.
The FBI San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Task Force investigated this matter. The FBI San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Task Force was formed in 2008 and is based out of the Pomona Police Department. One of the primary missions of the FBI’s San Gabriel Valley Safe Streets Task Force is to work with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to combat, investigate, and dissuade gang violence from occurring within the Los Angeles County Jail and surrounding Los Angeles area. The Covina Police Department assisted in the investigation.
Assistant United States Attorneys Jason C. Pang of the Major Frauds Section and Varun Behl of the International Narcotics, Money Laundering, and Racketeering Section are prosecuting this case.