L.A. supermarket chain owner guilty of bribery, racketeering, soliciting murder

The Los Angeles Times has posted breaking news in the George Torres case. On Monday, Torres, an entrepreneur who built the multimillion-dollar Numero Uno grocery store chain, was convicted by a jury of racketeering, solicitation of murder, bribery in federal court.

In the trial, he U.S Attorney’s Office argued that Torres hired illegal immigrants at his stores, bribed a Los Angeles City planning commissioner and arranged to have people killed. The prosecution relied heavily on the testimony of two former Torres associates–both convicted drug dealers serving lengthy federal prison sentences who were cooperating with authorities in hopes of having the sentences reduced. Despite credibility issues with the prosecution’s star witnesses, jurors ultimately concluded that Torres arranged for the murder of a local gang member who tried to extort protection money. The man, Jose “Shorty” Maldonado was fatally shot as he walked with his girlfriend near Torres’ main market in 1994.

Torres’ legal team plans on asking the Judge for a judgment notwithstanding the verdict—or that despite the verdict, the government had not met its burden of proof. This post-trial hearing is set for June 1. He faces life in prison.

Comments about this post can be directed to Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William Weinberg at (714) 834-1400.