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253: Former Prison Gang Leaders Becomes Judicial Expert, 2

Earning Freedom with Michael Santos

Release Date: 03/23/2016

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Earning Freedom with Michael Santos

Do you have a solid, actionable plan to build financial stability or prosperity in your future? That’s a question that relatively few Americans ask themselves. Those who want to do more than ask questions take action. It’s never too early, and it’s never too late to put yourself on the path to prosperity.  I’m Michael Santos with Alternative Investment Seminars. During this 20-minute video, I’ll teach how my wife Carole and I went from literally ground zero to exceed $5 million in assets within five years. We used leverage to invest in real estate. Now we’re using leverage to...

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Earning Freedom with Michael Santos

Questions from Audry Spade   So Michael, you were in your early 20’s when you were convicted and sent to prison. I'm curious about your childhood and the influences you had growing up. How did you arrive at the decision to pursue crime?    What kind of technology do you remember people using back before your arrest in 1987?    You were arrested for drug trafficking and ultimately sentenced to serve 45 years in prison. Describe that first day of your sentence.    What did your days in prison consist of years into your sentence, after that initial...

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Earning Freedom with Michael Santos

Federal authorities charged Brett with federal crimes. Since he had worked for several years as a police officer, the criminal charges derailed his life. He decided to cooperate with authorities in exchange for leniency at sentencing. Brett talks about how he has rebounded with a new career since being dismissed from the police force.

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Earning Freedom with Michael Santos

Luis Rivera succeeded in being released from federal prison, even though a judge sentenced him to serve a life sentence plus 140 years. Learn how his adjustment in prison contributed to his early release and his success.

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Earning Freedom with Michael Santos

A federal judge sentenced Luis Rivera to life in prison, plus 140 years. In Part 2 of Luis's story, we learn how Luis adjusted in a high-security federal prison and we learn how he positioned himself for early release from federal prison.

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Earning Freedom with Michael Santos

In 1995, a federal judge sentenced Luis Rivera to a term of life in prison, plus 140 years. In this episode on Earning Freedom, Luis describes his early adjustment. From his appearance on the Earning Freedom podcast, we know that Luis was released from prison and he now lives as law abiding citizen. Learn how he got out after 30 years in prison.

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Earning Freedom with Michael Santos

Derek Sauceda began using drugs when he was 10. His drug addictions led him into crime. His crime led him into a series of prison terms that kept him locked in cages for more than 24 years. Now he is a successful case manager with Fathers and Families of San Joaquin Valley. From Derek's story we see that a path exists to overcome struggle.

271: Released after 20 Years in Pennsylvania Prisons show art 271: Released after 20 Years in Pennsylvania Prisons

Earning Freedom with Michael Santos

Big D was drawn to the streets as a young man. He looked up to drug dealers and gangsters. Authorities arrested Big D and after his trial, he was sentenced to a term that required him to serve more than 20 years in Pennsylvania prisons. Big D said that he wasted his first 10 years of confinement. Instead of adjusting positively, he lived in prison just as he had been living on the streets. He used drugs and he was engaged in violence. In today's Earning Freedom episode, Big D talks about how he changed.

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Earning Freedom with Michael Santos

Today I spoke with Billie Gomez, a man who shared a story about his transformation. Billie spoke about growing up in a violent neighborhood and being influenced by gangs. By the time he was 18, he went to prison with a five year sentence. His adjustment in prison led to his receiving additional time. Upon his release from prison, Billie reverted to criminal behavior. Billie picked up a gun within two weeks of being released, and he used the gun to commit more crimes. That behavior led to his receiving a new 18-year sentence for a violent offense. Listen to Billie talk about how he...

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Lessons that powered me through 26 years of imprisonment apply to anyone. In today's podcast, I share those strategies with the sales force at Resort Advisory Group.

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Dr. Jesse De La Cruz: Prison Gangster to Community Leader, part 2

So proud to feature part two of my interview with Dr. Jesse De La Cruz, a formerly incarcerated prisoner who emerged incredibly successfully--as a doctor of education and judicial expert. Check out his resume. Listen and watch his amazing two-part story on Earning Freedom, at MichaelSantos.com

Dr. Jesse De La Cruz 

JSD Consultations
P.O. Box 1993 Stockton, CA  95201
Cell: 209-423-4794
Email: jesse.delacruz588@gmail.com


Ed.D: California State University, Stanislaus Turlock, CA                                                                                     2014
Concentration: Gangs
Dissertation: Mexican American/Chicano gang members’ voice on social control in the context of school and community: A critical ethnographic case study in Stockton, California

Masters of Social Work: California State University, Stanislaus, Turlock, CA                                              2003
Concentration: Deviant behavior
Thesis: An evaluation of a substance-abuse treatment program for criminal offenders

Bachelors: Sociology, California State University, Turlock, CA                                                                 2001

______________________________________________________________________________                                                                                                      Teaching Experience: 
Instructor                                                                                                                                 2010–2012
Heald College
Taught Courses in: Police Procedures Theory and Practice; Corrections; Juvenile Delinquency; Victimology; Introduction into Criminology; Criminology; Organized Crime, Street Gangs & Terrorism.

Teaching Assistant (TA)
California State University, Stanislaus, Turlock, CA                                                                           2011 2012


Personal Experience:

My involvement with gangs spans 50 years, beginning with my initiation into a street gang at age 13. In 1973, at age 21, I became a member of the Nuestra Familia prison gang while serving time at Deuel Vocational Institution (DVI). I left the NF once I was released from prison in 1976. After my defection from the gang, I maintained a high degree of respect from my street gang homeboys simply because I never testified against any of my former Homeboys. In the course of my criminal career and going in and out of prison for twenty-eight years, I witnessed the proliferation of gangs. Mostly, I observed all the superficial, and few substantial changes between old and modern gangs. In 1996, I was released from prison for the last time and have turned my life completely around. However, as a result of my multiple gang involvement (street and prison), and my many years in different jails and prisons throughout the state of California, Texas and Washington, I have developed a unique and thorough insight into the gang phenomena that neither law enforcement nor academics can ever achieve because they have never been on the inside of a gang or served time in jail or prison.                                            


Academic & Professional Experience:

Since leaving prison for the last time on April 2, 1996, I have earned three University degrees and each of my degrees has been primarily the study and research of gangs. It is due to these distinct achievements, coupled with my personal experience, that I have been qualified on many occasions to testify as an expert witness.


  • In my very first case as a gang expert, I testified in Siskiyou County on a Death Penalty case involving an alleged White Supremacy gang. The gang allegations were dismissed after my testimony at preliminary hearing.
  • In October, 2013, I testified in Stanislaus County on an alleged Norteño gang murder case involving one adult and two juveniles who were prosecuted as adults. All three defendants in that case were found not guilty of gang enhancements. My client was found innocent of all charges as a direct result of my testimony.
  • I again testified in Stanislaus County in November, 2014 where a defendant had been charged with being a gang member under a gang injunction. The defendant was found not guilty as a direct result of my testimony.
  • In December, 2014, I testified on a homicide case in Stanislaus County where gang allegations were filed. The jury was unable to reach a verdict due to my testimony. The case is currently set for trial later this year (2016).
  • Recently, (January, 2015) I submitted a report on a robbery case in Marin County where the defendants had been charged with 186.22 and the gang allegation was dismissed as a result of my report.
  • I also testified in Tulare County on December 2014 on an Asian Blood gang case. All three defendants were found guilty of the gang allegation filed against them.

I have testified in:

  • Los Angeles County (2)
  • Contra Costa County (1)
  • Santa Barbara County (1)
  • Santa Clara County (4)
  • San Joaquin County (1)
  • San Mateo County (1)
  • Sacramento County (1)
  • Siskiyou County (1)
  • Stanislaus County (4)
  • Placer County (1)
  • Tulare County (2)
  • Hillsborough, Oregon (1)
  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania (1)


I have also participated in aiding lawyers in preparation of testimony and given opinions on approximately 95 gang cases. Currently, I am working one death penalty case in Tulare County and a post conviction death case with the Habeas Corpus Resource Center in San Francisco CA. I have also worked with the Federal Public Defenders Office on a case out of Sacramento, CA on a post conviction case and two other post conviction cases in Oregon. I am also currently working on four R.I.C.O. cases and expected to testify late October or early November on one R.I.C.O. case in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.


Consultant & Mentor for Fathers & Families of San Joaquin: I currently work with and mentor gang members who are interested in leaving their gang. I provide the gang member guidance and resource information that will facilitate their transition from the gang lifestyle into mainstream society.                        On-Going


Founder of Criminals & Gang members Anonymous: A 12-Step program for gang members and criminals alike that addresses problems pertaining to gang & criminal involvement. Group membership is constantly evolving. As a result, new members bring with them a wealth of current information, which keeps me abreast of gang trends, both locally and on a state level.                                                                     1998-On-Going


Founder Of Jonah Foundation: A sober living facility that provided counseling and sustenance for ex-offenders. It was through the group counseling and rap sessions that I developed meaningful contacts with the participants, all who had just been released from prison or jail. These men were attempting to disassociate themselves from the gang/criminal lifestyle. To date, many of them continue to share with me valuable gang and other crimino-genic trends.                                                                                                                     2006-2008


Program Director of a Day Reporting Center: In 2008, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation awarded BI, Inc. a contract to operate a facility targeting high-risk offenders. The intent of this program was to alter the behavior of the offender by using evidence-based practices. I was the day-to-day operations manager in charge of insuring that the safety and security of my employees, and the clients, was assured. In the process of my daily interactions with clients who were just recently released from California State Prison and out of state prisons as well, I was fortunate to gather intelligence concerning not only state gang trends, but national gang trends too.                                                                                                                            2008-2010



Detoured: My Journey from Darkness to Light. Barking Rooster Publications: Los Angeles, CA (My Memoir)


Journal of Prisoners on Prisons: Volume 21, Number 1 & 2, 2012




Gang Involvement: A Look at Why Minors Join Gangs and How WE Can Reach Our Youth. The 41st National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), Dallas, Texas                                                                                   2012

Seeing Ourselves Emancipating Our Dialogue: Research as Hope From Incarceration Today And Tomorrow. Presented at the 2nd Annual Alliance for Multilingual Multicultural Education Conference: San Antonio, Texas 2011

Facilitated Gang Awareness Workshops:

Merced Unified School District: Merced,

Stockton Unified School District: Stockton, CA

Roseville School District: Roseville, CA

Parks & Recreation Department: Stockton, CA

Monterey County Juvenile Hall: Salinas, CA

San Francisco County Juvenile Hall: San Francisco, CA

Alameda Juvenile Hall: Oakland, CA

San Joaquin Delta College: Stockton, CA

CSU Stanislaus: Turlock, CA


Some cases I have testified on and/or participated as a gang expert/consultant: 


People vs. Arturo Manzanero

Rancho San Pedro Sureño Gang Case

Henry Salcido Attorney at Law

Long Beach, CA


Defendant found not guilty of

Gang allegation


People vs. Hernandez et. al.

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania


Michael Wiseman Attorney at Law

121 Locust Street

Philadelphia PA 19107


5 defendants found guilty 

7 found not guilty


People vs. Angel Rivera

Stanislaus County

Norteño Gang Case

Ben Jacob Attorney at Law

770 L Street #950

Sacramento, CA 95814

Defendant Found Not Guilty 


People vs. Herrera, Pedro

Santa Clara County

Norteño Gang Case

Lindsey Dazel: Attorney at Law

93 Devine Street Suite 203

San Jose, CA 95110


Jury Hung 11 to 1 for acquittal 


People vs. Alvarez

San Mateo County

Norteño Gang Case

Maria Fonseca:  Attorney at Law

702 Marshall Street Suite 511

Redwood City CA 94063


Gang Allegations Dismissed

As a Result of my Testimony

At Preliminary Hearing


People vs. Espinoza et. al

Sacramento County

Sureño Gang Case

Keith Staten: Attorney at Law

1023 H. St. Suite A

Sacramento CA 95814

(916) 443-5600

Defendants Found Guilty 


People vs. Andrew Rodríguez

Santa Clara County

Norteño Gang Case

Timothy Clancy: Attorney at Law

1290 B Street, suite 304

Hayward, CA 94541


Defendant Found Not Guilty of Gang Allegation



People vs. Bustamante et. al

Santa Clara County

Norteño Gang Case

Lindsey Dazel: Attorney at Law

93 Devine Street Suite 203

San Jose, CA 95110


Defendants Found Not Guilty of Gang Allegation


People vs. Sebourne et.al Homicide

Sureño Gang Case

Stanislaus County

Gregory Bentley: Attorney at Law

500 Broadway

San Francisco CA 94133


Hung Jury. Set for Re-Trial


People vs. Ernesto Munguia: Gang Injunction 

Norteño Gang Case

Stanislaus County

Mark Girdner: Attorney at Law

811 15th Street

Modesto, CA 95354

(209) 524-7600

Defendant Found Not Guilty



People vs. Velasco

LASC, South Central District (Compton)

Don Kelly Attorney at Law

317 Rosecrans Blvd # 2 Manhattan Beach, CA 90266


Gang allegations: Not Guilty



People vs. Errik Roman: Attempted Homicide

Sureño Gang Case

Santa Barbara County

K.C. Williamson: Attorney at Law

Santa Barbara Public Defender

Santa Barbara, CA

Defendant Found Guilty


People vs. Rocky Riberal- Homicide

Norteño Gang Case

San Joaquin County

Ralph Cingcon: Attorney at Law
5250 Claremont Ave

Stockton, CA 95207

(209) 462-5600

Defendant Found Guilty


People vs. Niaz Mohammed Khoshnaw- Homicide

Norteño Gang Case

Hillsborough County

Edie Rogoway: Attorney at Law

6312 SW Capitol Highway # 1102

Portland, OR 97239

(503) 334-0331

Defendant Found Guilty


People vs. Jah-Kari, Phyall- Homicide

Stanislaus County

Norteño Gang Case

Frank Carson: Attorney at Law

815 15th Street

Modesto, CA 95354

(209) 549-0984

Defendant Found Not Guilty


People vs. Elizondo, Christian Orlando- Possession of Drugs/Firearm             

Norteño Gang Case- Defendant Plead to Lesser Charge:

San Joaquin County

David Atkinson: Attorney at Law

343 East Main Street Suite 911
Stockton, CA 95202

Gang Enhancement Dismissed



People vs. Eady, Howard Lamont-Homicide                                                                                                 

Sutter Street Crip Gang Case

Douglass C. Jacobsen: Attorney at Law

1811 Grand Canal Blvd., Suite 2

Stockton, CA  95207-8107

Gang Allegation Dismissed: Defendant pled guilty to 22 years.


People vs. Orozco, Josue- Homicide                                                                                                                  

Sureño Gang Case

San Mateo, County,

Ray, Buenaventura: Attorney at Law

2171 Junipero Serra Blvd.

Daly City, CA 94014

Ph. (650) 756-2000

Hung Jury: Defendant Pled to 43 Years


People vs. Gonzalez, Abel, Jr.-Drug Trafficking

Sureño Gang Case

Ted, Bastian, Jr.: Attorney at Law

600 Fourth St. P.O. Box431

Yreka, CA  96097

Ph. (530) 842-2000

Defendant Pled to Seven Years. Gang Enhancement Dismissed.


People vs. Shifflett, William Jr. Drug Possession

Arron, Williams: Attorney at Law

1721 Court St Redding, CA 96001

Ph. (530) 241-6991

Defendant Pled: Gang Allegation Dismissed 


People vs. Lieffer, Donald- Homicide                                                                     

Alleged Northern Peckerwood Gang Case

Charles Slote: Attorney at Law

305 N. El Dorado Suite, 301

Stockton, CA 95202

Ph. (209) 948-5711

Gang Enhancement Dismissed After My Testimony at Preliminary