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.