Trial for grocery store magnate underway in federal court

From the Associated Press:


LOS ANGELES–A grocery store magnate ordered the killing of rivals, bribed public officials and hired illegal immigrants to bolster and protect his business, a prosecutor in a racketeering trial said Wednesday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tim Searight told jurors during his opening statement that George Torres ran his Numero Uno supermarkets like a criminal enterprise, skimming from store profits and taking revenge on those who crossed him.

Torres and his brother Manuel Torres were part of a group “that used violence, including murder, force, bribery and alien harboring to protect and further their business,” Searight said.

The evidence against the brothers includes wiretapped conversations and testimony from former employees and gang members, the prosecutor said.

George Torres, 52, has pleaded not guilty to more than 50 counts, including racketeering, mail and wire fraud and conspiracy to defraud the federal government.

Manuel Torres, 55, has pleaded not guilty to three counts, including racketeering and conspiracy to harbor illegal aliens.

If convicted of all counts, they could each face life in prison. The government also is seeking the forfeiture of tens of millions of dollars.

George Torres has been portrayed by prosecutors as a greedy, calculating businessman who used street justice to help his cause
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