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Tag: convictions

L.A. Judge Drops Key Convictions in Racketeering Case After Feds Discover Tape Beneficial to Defense

George Torres

George Torres

This case was considered a tough one, which made it all the more gratifying for federal prosecutors when they emerged victorious. Now it’s an embarrassment. The prosecution said it just discovered a tape recording that was helpful to the defense. On Tuesday, the judge took action.

By Scott Glover
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge  today tossed out two of the most serious convictions in the racketeering case against supermarket mogul George Torres, dramatically reducing the amount of time Torres faces behind bars.

U.S. District Judge Stephen V. Wilson ordered Torres released immediately on the condition he sign papers stating he would attend future hearings in the case.

The judge issued the order after federal prosecutors over the weekend turned over tape recordings of at least one key informant in the case that contained potentially exculpatory evidence.

The judge’s ruling marks a serious blow to prosecutors who last month won a conviction against Torres. Before the judge’s action, Torres faced a potential life sentence. With two of most serious convictions dismissed, Torres potential sentence will likely be significantly shorter. Authorities could not immediately say how much prison time he might face.

The convictions voided by Wilson were at the heart of the government’s case — racketeering and conspiracy, including murder.

For Full Story

Columnist Skeptical About Feds Terrorist Convictions in Miami

miami-mapBy Leonard Pitts Jr.
Miami Herald Columnist

Like the Mounties, they finally got their men. And all it took was three years, three trials and millions of taxpayer dollars.

At that price, you’d like to feel a certain satisfaction from last week’s guilty verdict against five men from inner-city Miami who stood accused of conspiring with al-Qaida to launch terrorist attacks in this country. You’d like to feel you’d seen justice done. Instead, you are left with the nagging suspicion that all you’ve seen is justice miscarried.

Prosecutors say the seven men arrested at a Liberty City warehouse in June 2006 were a homegrown terror cell conspiring with an FBI informant they thought was an al-Qaida representative to bomb the Sears Tower in Chicago and other sites. The feds made their case with secret recordings, testimony that the men swore an oath of allegiance to al-Qaida and photos of possible terror targets taken by the defendants.

But the defense said the seven were just the hapless members of a would-be religious sect who thought they had found a patsy who’d give them money as long as he believed they were planning a terrorist strike. All they wanted, they said, was cash — to finance their sect.

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