Friday, July 6, 2007

LA grocer charged with racketeering

George Torres, owner of a chain of Numero Uno groceries in Los Angeles, pleaded not guilty this week to federal racketeering charges, according to an AP story by Andrew Glazer published in the Monterey Herald.

Federal prosecutors say Torres, 50, murdered rivals, intimidated employees and bribed public officials as he expanded his supermarket chain in poor L.A. neighborhoods. Among his alleged victims are a member of the Primera Flats street gang who was killed in a drive-by shooting in 1993 in retaliation for the murder of a Numero Uno security guard, a Mexican Mafia gangster who was shot to death in 1994 after attempting to extort protection money from a Numero Uno market, and a Torres employee who met his end after Torres decided he was stealing large amounts of money from the business.

Charged along with Torres in a 59-count indictment were his brother Manuel Torres-Ramos, 53; his son Steven Torres, 26; L.A. Convention and Exhibition Center Authority Commission member George Luk, 58; and former L.A. planning commission member Steven Carmona, 39. All pleaded not guilty.

Torres was initially arrested June 13. A trial date has been tentatively set for Aug. 7.

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Editor/publisher of crime history journal, Informer. Publisher of American Mafia history website mafiahistory.us. Moderator of Mafia-related Yahoo discussion group. Author of Wrongly Executed? Coauthor of Deep Water: Joseph P. Macheca and the Birth of the American Mafia and DiCarlo: Buffalo's First Family of Crime. Contributor of American Mafia history to Australian-published Mafia: The Necessary Reference to Organized Crime. Writer/co-writer of crime history articles for Informer, On the Spot Journal, Cigar City Magazine, Tampa Mafia Magazine.