The admitted leader of a South Philadelphia drug ring was sentenced to 210 months in prison Monday despite pleas for a lesser term from family members and friends who packed the federal courtroom.
U.S. District Judge Darnell Jones said William Caraballo, 41, brought a "blight on the community" through a network that distributed at least 15 kilograms of cocaine during a three-year period that ended with his arrest in June 2008.
Caraballo, who pleaded guilty to an eight-count federal indictment in June, faced a sentencing guideline of 188 to 235 months.
Family members and friends, including a teenage son and daughter, pleaded with Jones for leniency during an hour-long hearing. Caraballo also spoke on his own behalf.
The man also known as "Puerto Rican Will" told the judge that he wanted to apologize to his family and "to the victims I don't know" whose lives were affected by the drugs he sold.
Dressed in a green prison jumpsuit - he has been denied bail since his arrest more than two years ago - Caraballo said, "I don't see myself as being an evil guy."
But he said he was accepting responsibility for what he had done. "When I come home, I want to help out my community instead of hurting it as I've done in the past," he said.
Caraballo's lawyer, Brian McMonagle, had asked for a sentence of 120 months, well below the guideline range. But Jones, citing the amount of drugs and the impact cocaine has had on city neighborhoods, rejected that request.
"This is not your run-of-the-mill, street-corner drug offense," Jones said.
Caraballo and nine co-defendants had pleaded guilty to federal drug conspiracy and distribution charges.
The indictment charged that the organization distributed 15 kilograms of cocaine. State authorities originally alleged that the Caraballo organization put about 35 kilograms of coke on the streets of South Philadelphia in seven years.
The federal indictment was based on evidence developed by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office in 2007.
Caraballo and his associates originally faced state charges. But those charges were dropped in favor of a federal indictment handed up in July 2009.
State investigators used wiretaps, informant testimony and undercover drug buys to develop the case against Caraballo, who allegedly operated his cocaine ring out of the now-shuttered Bella Rosa II Bar & Grill near 10th and Watkins Streets.
Among other things, the wiretaps included several conversations with a major cocaine supplier who has been the target of an investigation by a federal drug task force for the last four years. That supplier has not been charged in the Caraballo case.