San Antonio Bandido who killed Hell’s Angel member gets 18 years in prison without parole
A San Antonio man who killed a member of the Hell’s Angels in 2006 to gain membership in the rival Bandidos Motorcycle Club was sentenced Thursday to 18 years in prison without parole.
Robert Romo, 45, testified at a trial for the Bandidos’ former two top leaders that he was the triggerman in the March 2006 shooting of Anthony W. Benesh III, who was slain outside a pizza restaurant in Austin in front of his children and girlfriend.
Benesh’s killing was unsolved for 11 years, until federal authorities in early 2017 developed information that led them to charge Romo and three other Bandidos in the murder, among them Romo’s older brother, Johnny “Downtown” Romo, 48, who was a high-ranking national sergeant-at-arms in the Bandidos.
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Like Johnny Romo, Robert Romo faced life in prison without parole, but prosecutors also asked Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra for a reduction. The judge gave Robert Romo 18 years for murder in aid of racketeering and 18 years for using and discharging a firearm in aid of a racketeering murder, then ran the sentences concurrently.
Johnny Romo pleaded guilty to the same charges as his brother and received a sentence of 15 years without parole on Wednesday.
At trial, the Romo brothers testified that the hit on Benesh was ordered by then-Bandidos national president Jeffrey Fay Pike and the directive was passed on to Johnny Romo by John Xavier Portillo, who was a national sergeant-at-arms in 2006 and went on to became national vice president in 2013. Benesh, who had planned to start a chapter of the Hell’s Angels in Austin, had ignored warnings from the Bandidos to not fly Hell’s Angels colors in Texas, which is considered the Bandidos homeland and territory.
Pike, 63, of Conroe, and John Portillo, 59, of San Antonio were sentenced last week to life in prison without parole after they were convicted of charges that they sanctioned, ordered or led the bikers’ racketeering conspiracy over several years.
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According to Robert Romo’s testimony, the hit crew, using walkie-talkies to communicate while in two separate vehicles, staked out Benesh’s home over two days, deciding to move in on the second day for the kill. The day of the slaying, Robert Romo brought a hunting rifle fitted with a scope that he had borrowed from a friend over a year earlier, according to Robert Romo’s testimony.
Both Romos also testified that Robert Romo was rewarded by being made a full-patch Bandidos member earlier than is normal and that he was made a part of a squad called the Fat Mexican Crew, tasked as enforcers for the Bandidos’ national chapter. The “Fat Mexican” is the Bandidos insignia widely seen on their motorcycle vests and accessories.
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