Joe Marino and Jorge Fitz-Gibbon
February 23, 2021

An alleged teen gangbanger dubbed “the Peyton Manning of criminal conduct” by a former prosecutor could get a sweetheart deal in court — all because he managed to graduate from high school, The Post has learned.

Courtney Yeates, 18, a reputed member of the Folk Nation street gang, has at least nine busts and four open cases in Queens and Brooklyn — including a felony robbery conviction for which he is awaiting sentencing.

The troubled teen is now back at Riker’s Island on a $150,000 bond after yet another arrest last week, for possession of a loaded handgun.

But one judge is contemplating giving him “Youthful Offender” status — which would reduce his prison time and wipe his record clean, sources with knowledge of the case told The Post.

… The state Youthful Offender statute provides judges with the option of giving defendants 19 or younger a break, reducing their potential prison time, and sealing their criminal records.

The law is intended to allow young defendants a chance to turn their lives around — although typically in non-violent or misdemeanor cases.

“In general, courts and legislatures do tend to leave a little wiggle room for judicial interpretation, and of course prosecutors always hate that,” said Jeffrey Butts, head of the Research Evaluation Center at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

“Anytime you’re dealing with someone who is young you need to allow for the possibility that, even at 22, not everyone is a fully functional adult and sometimes they make rash decisions.”

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Courtney Yeates could get Youthful Offender status under a deal being worked out by judges in the two counties.