March 06, 2018

Bandidos ex-president wants recordings excluded from racketeering trial

A lawyer for former Bandidos Motorcycle Club president Jeffrey Fay Pike wants a judge to exclude from a racketeering trial recordings made by a co-defendant that the attorney argues could be prejudicial to his client.

The recordings came from a body wire that then-Bandidos national sergeant-at-arms Johnny “Downtown Johnny” Romo, while cooperating with the feds, wore during at least one meeting with Bandidos vice president John Xavier Portillo.
Portillo and Pike are on trial over a 13-count indictment alleging the former national leaders of the Bandidos sanctioned or directed members to commit murder, assault, extortion and other crimes in furtherance of a racketeering enterprise. Both deny the charges.

The recordings issue stalled testimony on Friday, and Pike’s attorney Dick DeGuerin filed a motion Monday asking Senior U.S. District Judge David Alan Ezra that he expects more wire recording excerpts to be offered by prosecutors that also should be barred.
Some of the statements in question were made by Portillo on March 3, 2015, prosecutors said in a response to DeGuerin’s motion, and center around a discussion of when the leadership raised club dues in anticipation of casualties in a “war” the Bandidos were having with a rival, the Cossacks Motorcycle Club.
“Tell all your members that, uh... There’s gonna be, uh... We’re gonna up the donations.,” Portillo reportedly said. “A lot of people that care about this club are gonna go to jail. The rest of you guys, if you don’t care, just pay. Yeah, I know what I mean, Johnny? Well, you got some guys who are going to do the fighting, and you got some other guys who are going to do nothing, so...we're going to get you out of jail. We’re not going to let you sit in jail for club business. ... I asked the guy in Houston to turn his back from what I'm gonna do.”

The prosecution’s filing said “the guy in Houston” refers to Pike, and that the statements demonstrate how Portillo “adhered to the command structure within the Bandidos organization by seeking prior approval/authorization from the national president.”

DeGuerin argues that Portillo’s statements “merely reported what Portillo told others in the past” and “were not made to advance any conspiracy that could include Pike. DeGuerin argues that previous cases have shown that such statements are inadmissible.

DeGuerin further argues that any statements Romo made are irrelevant to Pike because he was not a party to the conversation, “thus rendering Romo’s statements unfairly prejudicial and inadmissible as to Pike.” Additionally, any statements Romo made are inadmissible because Pike can’t cross-examine him, DeGuerin wrote.

But prosecutors argue that the statements are admissible. Romo, meanwhile, pleaded guilty in September 2017 to murder in aid of racketeering and discharging a firearm during murder in aid of racketeering.

The trial resumes today .


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