Co-defendants testify against fellow gang member
By Teresa Auch Schultz email@example.com January 16, 2014 5:34PM
Updated: February 18, 2014 6:28AM
Testimony in the trial of an East Chicago man accused of racketeering and murder focused Thursday on three other killings.
Although the defendant, Richard Reyes, is not implicated directly in any of those three homicides, federal attorneys argue that the homicides, part of 14 overall named in the racketeering count, help establish the criminal conspiracy that made up the Imperial Gangsters street gang during the past decade, a conspiracy in which Reyes knowingly participated.
Reyes, 41, is standing trial at U.S. District Court in Hammond for his alleged part in the gang and the fatal shooting of Rene Alonzo on Sept. 16, 2007.
Most of the morning testimony came from co-defendant Joseph Torres, who has pleaded guilty to racketeering and murdering a fellow Imperial Gangster, Jesus Alvarez.
Torres told the jury he and co-defendant Galo Benjamin Feliciano were driving in a rival gang’s territory on March 26, 2010, to sell marijuana to someone when they saw a group of people who they thought might be members of the rival gang.
“It looked like one of them was reaching for something,” Torres testified.
That’s when he reached for a gun and fired shots. He was at first proud of himself, he said, and Feliciano congratulated him. It wasn’t until they met up with another Imperial Gangster that they learned the victim was Alvarez, someone who was in the process of joining the Imperials.
That wasn’t Torres’ only shooting — he claims to have shot at rival gang members, including members of the Two Six gang, more than 20 times.
“The less enemies for us, the better,” Torres said.
Torres said he joined the gang when he was 12 because his father and uncle, Eddie Torres, another defendant, were also a part of it. Torres was related to Reyes at one point through marriage and still considers him a cousin. He testified that Reyes had reached “old school” status during Torres’ time with the gang, meaning that he had been in so long he no longer took part in the daily activities or attended meeting.
He also said under cross-examination that he had never witnessed Reyes deal drugs.
Another witness, Christopher Delacruz, described watching another Imperial Gangster, Julian Serna, gun down Mario Soriano on March 25, 2008. Delacruz, who is not a gang member, said Serna was giving him a ride when Serna spotted Soriano, another rival gang member, and shot at him.
Another defendant in the case, Ace Cortez, told the jury that he shot and killed Anuar David Paez on July 24, 2004. Cortez had been standing on a street corner in East Chicago with friends when Paez and another rival gang member started shooting at them. Cortez was able to flee in his truck, but when he came upon Paez a little later, he shot and killed him.