Kong “OG” Meng Vang, the eldest of nine men and youths charged with the gang-related rape of a St. Paul girl in November 2011, was sentenced on Wednesday to eight years in prison.
The length of the sentence was in little doubt, having been agreed to in March when Vang entered a surprise plea of guilty to two of four felony counts.
But on Wednesday, defense attorney Gary Wolf attempted to withdraw the plea on Vang’s behalf, arguing that the defendant had been overcome with doubt and worry when he pleaded guilty as jurors were about to be sworn in for his Ramsey County District Court trial.
In rejecting the argument, Judge Gregg Johnson said that he was aware that Vang had approached Wolf about the plea deal, and that Vang appeared to have carefully weighed his decision.
Asked if he had anything to say before being sentenced, Vang replied, “No.”
Vang, 39, was one of nine suspects accused of plying a then 14-year-old girl with alcohol, driving her to a vacant house that Vang had once owned, forcing her inside and sexually assaulting her.
The defendants were members or associates of the True Blood 22 street gang.
Vang, who faced a potential 30-year sentence if convicted at trial, did not sexually assault the girl. But under questioning from Assistant County Attorney Heidi Westby in March, he admitted that he knew the gang raped girls and that it was done for the benefit of a gang.
Two cases still are pending.
On May 13, Vanchai Xiong, 19, is scheduled to be sentenced after pleading guilty to a charge of aiding and abetting an offender after the fact.
Jim Her, 17, is expected to be tried in juvenile court, after the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled he was improperly certified to stand trial as an adult. But prosecutors, still seeking to have him tried as an adult, have said they will ask the state Supreme Court to review the decision.
Anthony Lonetree • 651-925-5036