A court in central China's Hubei Province on Thursday rejected the appeal by former mining tycoon Liu Han, sentenced to death in May.
Liu Han, his brother Liu Wei and 34 other defendants were convicted of murder and organizing, leading or participating in a mafia-style gang in May.
Both Liu brothers and three other defendants were sentenced to death. Another five were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve, four to life imprisonment and 22 to imprisonment of varying terms.
Hubei Higher People's Court ruled that the appellants Liu Han, Liu Wei and other defendants had established a criminal organization which should be defined as a mafia-style gang according to law.
According to the verdicts of the first trial, the group had an established hierarchy, regular members and profited from criminal activities.
The court also rejected appeals of 14 other defendants, including Tang Xianbing, Tian Xianwei and Zhang Donghua who were also sentenced to death.
The court did alter some sentences related to minor offenses. For instance, Liu Han was sentenced to six years plus a fine of 50 million yuan (8.1 mln U.S.dollars) for fraud. The sentence was commuted to four years and a fine of 10 million yuan.
These minor alterations will not affect the death penalties, and the gangsters will be handed down combined punishments for several offenses, the court said.
The death sentences still have to be reviewed by the Supreme People's Court (SPC).
Two appellants, Miao Jun and Li Bo, have their jail terms reduced by one and two years respectively for bona fide confessions.
Liu Han was board chairman of the Hanlong Group, once the biggest private enterprise in southwest China's Sichuan Province. He owned subsidiary companies in the electricity, energy, finance, mining, real estate and securities industries.
The organization, which was harbored and indulged by government officials, illegally monopolized the gaming business in Guanghan City in Sichuan, tyrannized local people and seriously harmed the local economic and social order.
The 36 defendants were prosecuted in seven trials, the last of which ended on April 19. It was the largest criminal group of its kind to go on trial in China in recent years.
Defendants in five of the seven trials appealed. The appeals of the Liu brothers were heard publicly.