Guilty verdict in Imperial Gangsters murder case
BY TERESA AUCH SCHULTZ email@example.com January 27, 2014 1:02PM
Updated: January 27, 2014 9:30PM
An East Chicago man has been found guilty of murdering a Griffith man in 2007 and taking part in the racketeering conspiracy of the Imperial Gangsters street gang.
A federal jury at the U.S. District Court in Hammond returned the verdict Friday against Richard Reyes, 41, on all counts — racketeering, conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute marijuana and cocaine and two murder counts.
Federal attorneys had argued during the two-week trial that Reyes was a long-time member of the Imperial Gangsters who, although no longer part of day-to-day gang operations during the period under indictment, which started in 2002, he had never left the conspiracy.
Some witnesses testified that Reyes stole from other drug dealers in 2002 and 2003 and still met often with other Imperial Gangsters members, flashing gang signs in greeting.
Multiple witnesses also testified that Reyes was driving a maroon van on the night in September 2007 that Rene Alonzo was shot to death outside an East Chicago bar. Friends of Alonzo, who had been associated with the rival Latin Kings street gang, said they saw the van pull up outside the bar and then saw flashes caused by gunshots come from within the van.
One man, Armando Ortega, told the jury he was in the van with Reyes and that Reyes took Ortega’s gun, although Ortega thought he was just holding on to it. When the van pulled up to the bar, however, Ortega testified that Reyes fired the weapon after seeing people flash rival gang signs.
Reyes was the first of two defendants in the case to stand trial. The second, Juan Briseno, is to stand trial in April. He is accused of killing six people, and prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty in that case.
The rest of the 24 defendants in the case have pleaded guilty, and several testified during Reyes’ trial.
Reyes is set to be sentenced April 23.