Ex-Bandido involved in hit on Hell’s Angels member gets nearly 22 years in prison
A former president of a San Antonio chapter of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club was sentenced Friday to 21 years and eight months in prison without parole for his participation in a hit on a member of the Hell’s Angels in 2006.
Norberto “Hammer” Serna Jr., 37, was part of a hit crew that went to Austin in March 2006 to kill Anthony Benesh III, who had planned to set up a chapter of the Hell’s Angels in Texas — the Bandidos’ homeland and territory.
Serna — at one time president of the club’s Centro San Antonio chapter — was not the triggerman, but pleaded guilty in September 2017 to aiding and abetting the use of a firearm in a racketeering murder. Serna did not tell on other Bandidos, nor did he testify at the trial of the two top leaders, former national president Jeffrey Fay Pike and John Xavier Portillo.
The ex-leaders were sentenced last week to life in prison without parole for ordering, sanctioning or leading a racketeering conspiracy that included attacks or hits on rivals or wayward Bandidos.
Serna told Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra that he his safety as well as that of his family was a reason he didn’t cooperate. He added that participating in the hit was “the dumbest decision in my life.”
“I would like to apologize to both families — to Anthony’s family and to my family for all the pain they’ve been put through,” Serna said, weeping. “I hope that someday they can find it in their hearts to forgive me.”
Serna followed his father, a member of the Bandidos, into the club, despite his mother’s attempts to raise him better, according to a sentencing memorandum from Serna’s lawyer, John Ritenour.
“I joined a motorcycle club at a young age cuz I liked motorcycles because that’s what I liked and saw,” Serna said, asking for leniency. “With it came things that I didn’t agree with or liked.”
Serna said he quit the club in 2014, the same year the federal racketeering investigation began, and was on his way to turning his life around.
But Assisant U.S. Attorney Eric Fuchs told the judge that trial evidence showed Serna was caught on a wiretap on Portillo’s cell phone after 2014 “and the content of those calls seem to undercut his claims that he had withdrawn from the Bandidos.”
Ezra agreed: “Mr. Serna was not just some sort of utility player who sat in bullpen while the rest of the team played in the ballgame. He was on the field.”
Two others involved in the Benesh hit, former high-ranking Bandidos member Johnny Romo and brother Robert Romo, who pulled the trigger, pleaded guilty to two charges including racketeering murder. But they cooperated extensively and testified in the trial. As a result, prosecutors filed motions that significantly dropped their exposure from life without parole.
Ezra sentenced Johnny Romo on Wednesday to 15 years in prison, and on Thursday sentenced Robert Romo to 18 years in prison, both without parole.
Because Serna didn’t cooperate, the feds didn’t seek a sentencing reduction and instead told the judge to sentence him to the low end of the recommended guideline range, which was between 292 to 365 months.
The judge granted the defense’s request to come down and gave Serna 260 months.
Guillermo Contreras covers federal court and immigration news in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read him on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @gmaninfedland