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Pennsylvania Lawmaker Seeks To Make Gang Recruitment A Crime

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(Pa. state senate majority leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Chester/Delaware.  File photo by Tony Romeo)

(Pa. state senate majority leader Dominic Pileggi, R-Chester/Delaware. File photo by Tony Romeo)

(Capitol dome, Harrisburg, Pa.   File photo) Tony Romeo
  Tony Romeo is Harrisburg bureau chief for KYW Newsradio...
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By Tony Romeo

HARRISBURG, Pa. (CBS) — The majority leader of the Pennsylvania state senate is introducing legislation that would make it a crime to recruit gang members in Pennsylvania.

State senate majority leader Dominic Pileggi, a Republican whose district includes parts of Chester and Delaware counties, says the legislation was drafted with input from Chester County district attorney Thomas Hogan, who is now prosecuting twelve defendants between the ages of 16 and 20 for offenses related to the fatal stabbing of  two rival gang members.

Pileggi says the DA refers to the gang activity in Chester County as “junior varsity” for career criminals and says his bill is designed to keep the gang problem from getting worse.

“This would give the district attorney the opportunity to prosecute those who seek to recruit new members to a gang or who prevent gang members from leaving the gang, and getting ahead of the gang problem before it escalates,” Pileggi tells KYW Newsradio.

Pileggi says at least 20 other states, including New Jersey and Delaware, have similar statutes. His bill would also increase penalties for other crimes related to gang activity.

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