Earlier today, about an hour after Bandido Motorcycle Club member Christopher Jacob Carrizal was assigned an October 9 trial date in state court in Waco, Texas, Assistant United States Attorney Eric Fuchs told The Associated Press in San Antonio that accused murderers and former Bandidos Johnny “Downtown Johnny” Romo, Robert Romo, James “Kronic” Benavidez and Norberto “Hammer” Serna, Jr. signed plea agreements last Thursday.
In a superseding indictment unsealed last March in the federal racketeering case against former Bandidos president Jeff Pike and former club vice-president John Portillo, all four of the men were accused of discharging a firearm during a murder in aid of racketeering. The victim was Anthony Benesh who was murdered outside an Austin restaurant in March 2006, allegedly for trying to start a chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club there. Johnny and Robert Romo were also accused of murder in aid of racketeering.
The plea deals were entered as a single sealed document on September 14 and remain sealed. All four men were referred by Senior U.S. District Judge David A. Ezra to Magistrate Judge Henry J. Bemporad for arraignment on their new and improved charges last Friday. Yesterday, Bomporad ordered Johnny and Robert Romor to appear in his court this Friday, September 22. Bemporad then ordered Magistrate Judge Elizabeth S. Chestney to approve Benavidez’ plea deal Monday, September 25 and Serna’s deal September 27.
The same day the four plea deals were reached, sentencing for another agreeable Bandido in the case, Frederick Cortez, was reset for next May. Last month, sentencing for former Bandido national sergeant at arms Justin Cole Forster was continued until next March. Forster also made a plea deal.
Typically in federal motorcycle club case. Pleaders agree to boiler plate statements contained in their indictments and agree to testify on behalf of authorities.
The current version of the federal Bandidos indictment contains statements like: “The Bandidos Outlaw Motorcycle Organization (hereinafter referred to as the ‘Bandidos OMO’) was an ‘outlaw’ motorcycle organization comprised of individual chapters located in various cities in Texas and elsewhere. The Bandidos OMO identifies itself as an outlaw motorcycle organization through the public display of the ‘1%’ symbol. The 1% symbol signifies that the membership of this organization has chosen to be part of the very small fraction of motorcycle-riders who defy legal conventionality and consider themselves ‘outlaws’ or lawbreakers. The Bandidos OMO membership refers to themselves as a 1% club.”
“The Bandidos OMO in the United States is a highly organized criminal organization which adheres to a hierarchical chain of command both nationally and locally. National officers are the most powerful and influential members of the enterprise. National officers comprise the National Chapter and include the President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Sergeant at Arms and other regional members. In addition to the National Chapter is a Nomad Chapter, which is located throughout the United States. The Nomad Chapter works for the National Chapter and is involved in gathering intelligence for the Bandidos OMO and meeting with the National officers to provide information that relates to the enterprise. Local chapters are divided up according to geographic location. Each local chapter must have at least five members to exist and has to be approved by the National Chapter to be established. The enterprise is operated through a strict chain of command. Each Bandidos OMO Chapter has a President, a Vice-President, a Secretary and/or Treasurer, and a Sergeant at Arms, along with members. Each officer has specific obligations to the enterprise.”
“The National Vice President serves as a point of contact for the other 1% motorcycle gangs to discuss territorial issues. The National Vice President also approves or disapproves the existence of each support club, along with the patches worn by support clubs.Each local Chapter President is responsible for support clubs that affiliate with the Bandidos OMO as well as the American Motorcycle Association clubs operating in the same geographical area. Most support clubs wear a designated reverse-color-scheme patch (yellow letters on a red background) to show their allegiance to the Bandidos OMO. These support clubs are also referred to as “farm clubs” because this is generally the recruiting pool for the Bandidos OMO to pick individuals to prospect and become members of the Bandidos OMO.”
Language like this in plea bargains is usually considered to be hearsay but its admissibility into evidence is also usually at the discretion of the judge presiding over any particular trial. Even though a judge is likely to decide that a canned confession is inadmissible as evidence at a trial, there is nothing to stop the confessor from making an identical confession in his own words.
Witness lists for the Carrizal trial are due Wednesday.