NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) – Eight alleged members of a local branch of the “Bloods” gang operating in Montgomery County, Pa. are headed to trial on numerous violent charges without having a preliminary hearing — the first time that’s ever happened in Montgomery County.

A county judge has granted a request from prosecutors that preliminary hearings for the eight defendants be skipped. Those hearings were scheduled for later this week.

Prosecutor John Gradel says he believes the hearings weren’t necessary.

“This was an investigation conducted by the grand jury,” he told KYW Newsradio.  “There was no need to do it all again.  And the other main thing I think the judge’s ruling does today, it saves the taxpayers a heck of a lot of money.”

The judge ruled in favor of the prosecution.

Gradel says this was a six-month investigation in which the grand jury called eighteen witnesses and reviewed hundreds of documents, eventually deciding there was probable cause to arrest the defendants on charges that include arson, attempted murder, and witness intimidation (see previous story).

Two juveniles who were also arrested are still facing detention hearings.  Prosecutors say the investigation is continuing and more arrests are possible.

Reported by Brad Segall, KYW Newsradio 1060

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