John Xavier Portillo, the former vice-president of the National Chapter of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club is scheduled for sentencing by federal district court judge David Ezra in San Antonio today.
Portillo and former Bandidos president Jeffrey Fay Pike were found guilty by a jury of eight men and four women on May 17 of: Racketeering Conpiracy; Murder in Aid of Racketeering; Conspiracy to Commit Murder in Aid of Racketeering; Conspiracy to Commit Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering; Aiding and Abetting Assault with a Dangerous Weapon in Aid of Racketeering; Aiding and Abetting Discharging a Firearm during a Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering Murder; Conspiracy to Possess with Intent to Distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and cocaine; possession with Intent to Distribute cocaine; Conspiracy to Interfere with Commerce by Threats or Violence; and Being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm.
The trial lasted three months. The jury deliberated for two days.
The case against the two men strained credulity.
For example, Assistant United States Attorney Eric Fuchs told the jury that the 2006 murder of a drug dealer named Anthony Benesh was committed on behalf of the Bandidos because Benesh was a Hells Angel and that it was ordered by Portillo. The actual murder, as opposed to a hypothetical conspiracy, was carried out by brothers Johnny Romo and Robert Romo. They provided the testimony that alleged a conspiracy and that connected Portillo to the crime.
Benesh was not a Hells Angel. Ralph “Sonny” Barger, who is beyond any shadow of a doubt the world’s leading authority on the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, testified that Benesh was not a member of Barger’s club and that the insignia Benesh liked to wear was counterfeit. The jury ignored Barger and listened to the confessed murderers instead.
Similarly, a convicted murderer named Richard Merla, who was expelled from the Bandidos in 2004, confessed to murder in 2007 and has held a grudge against Portillo for the last quarter century, testified that Portillo ordered him to commit the murder.
After his conviction Portillo asked, “How can a jury digest three months of testimony and return a verdict of guilty on all counts with maybe 12 hours of jury room time?”
“Something happened in there,” he told The Aging Rebel. “Maybe being bused in every day by armed marshals scared them. Man, there was no physical evidence or anything like that. Just paid informants saving their asses. My lawyer caught them all lying on cross examination about their interviews with the DEA, FBI and Texas DPS.”
Portillo, who is 58, faces a sentence of life in prison and confiscation of the home he bought ten years before he joined the Bandidos.
Pike is scheduled for sentencing next month.