For the first time in court, a former member of the Mexican Mafia has admitted that Edward James Olmos was targeted by the prison gang known as "Eme" after the actor-director portrayed the group in a bad light in his 1992 film American Me.

Ernest "Chuco" Castro testified Wednesday that he told fellow gangsters that Olmos was "fair game" during a 1994 meeting, confirming government allegations that the Eme singled out Olmos, the Los Angeles Times reported. But under defense cross-examination, Castro denied his words advocated violence against the activist actor.

The defense claims Castro--a key government informant who knew his comments were being recorded--was trying to entrap the 13 gang members now being prosecuted in federal court for drug trafficking, racketeering and extortion.

Although he is not officially involved in the case, Olmos has become a central figure in the court battle. He has allegedly feared for his life ever since directing and starring American Me, a graphic film about the Mexican Mafia which shows a fictional gang boss being sodomized. Three consultants on the film were killed, and the government asserts Olmos was supposed to be victim number four--especially after refusing to apologize to the gang for making the movie.

The gang's godfather even sued Olmos in 1993, saying that a character in the film bore too striking a resemblance to him. That suit was thrown out of court.

Government prosecutors had also claimed the gang tried to extort protection money from Olmos, but those charges were dropped in November, according to the Times.

The Mexican Mafia was founded in the 1950s in East Los Angeles; police say it has about 1,000 members.

Calls to the actor's production company were unreturned today.

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