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Sentencing request is challenged

Federal prosecutors want a Fall River man to serve 27 years in prison for his conviction on drug and gun charges, but his lawyer on Monday accused the government of “prosecutorial vindictiveness” in seeking the lengthy term.

A lawyer for Ernesto “Ness” Monell Jr., 36, made that allegation in a court filing on Monday in US District Court in Boston. The lawyer requested a 15-year sentence.

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Prosecutors had made their sentencing recommendation for Monell, a reputed gang leader, on Friday. “Simply put, [Ernesto] Monell is extremely dangerous and does not respect the law,” prosecutors wrote.

Monell was arrested in February 2012 after police raided his apartment and seized items including 37 rocks of crack cocaine and a loaded gun, court records show. He was convicted last December on drug and gun violations.

While awaiting trial last August, Monell wounded at least two inmates at the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, R.I., with a makeshift weapon and was later convicted on a charge stemming from the attack, prosecutors said.

His prior convictions include assault with intent to murder, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and possessing class B drugs with intent to distribute. Prosecutors wrote that Monell has spent “virtually his entire adult life behind bars.”

Government lawyers also contend that Monell tried to have his girlfriend “take the rap for him,” in the most recent drug case, but she refused.

Monell’s lawyer, Jonathan Shapiro, countered that his client simply wanted his girlfriend to “claim what was hers,” the crack cocaine.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.
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