Corey Cornelius began committing crimes when he 12.
It led him to the Crips street gang in Wichita. Now 31, Cornelius is headed to prison for 17 1/2 years on federal racketeering charges for his role in the Crips, a judge ordered Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten considered a report of Cornelius' previous criminal convictions — including thefts at age 12, kidnapping at 13 and weapons crimes at 16 — before deciding on a sentence of 210 months.
Cornelius faced sentencing more than a year after he and five other men stood trial.
A jury found Cornelius and four others guilty of conspiracy to engage in racketeering on April 15, 2009. Cornelius and three others were also convicted of drug crimes.
Previously, Calvin Williams was sentenced to seven years and Jermal Campbell to 5 1/3 years. Three others await sentencing.
Campbell was convicted of an ammunitions charge, the least serious crime among the defendants who went to trial. The jury convicted Williams of racketeering conspiracy but couldn't reach a verdict on the drug charges.
The drug convictions for dealing in crack cocaine and marijuana added years to Cornelius' prison time. Prosecutors asked for 20 years.
Cornelius' lawyer, Carl Maughan, argued that his client had fallen into crime after he'd been abandoned by his father and left to hang out on the streets by a working mother.
The Crips became Cornelius' friends and family.
"And we heard testimony that once you're associated with gangs, violence is all around you," Maughan said. "It becomes a vicious cycle."
Cornelius stayed married, had adopted stepchildren and had taken care of the children he and his wife had together, Maughan said.
"I think this speaks volumes in a culture of baby daddies, baby mamas and absent fathers," Maughan said.
Cornelius had been free on bond before the trial and while awaiting sentencing. Marten allowed Cornelius to voluntarily surrender to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
After release, Cornelius will be supervised by probation officers for five years. There is no parole from federal prison.
Co-defendants in the case, who entered plea bargains, and have been sentenced, include:
* Marteaus Carter, sentenced to 120 months.
* Cortez Grayson, Sycarr Greenley and Mario Hutton, each receiving 96 months.
* Elton Profit, 78 months.
* Junian Johnson, 76 months.