Jesse James “Kronic” Benavidez, 42, of San Antonio was the getaway driver of the car from which the fatal shot was fired that killed Anthony W. Benesh III outside a pizza restaurant in Austin. Benesh, 44, had been trying to establish a chapter of the Hell’s Angels in Texas, which is considered the Bandidos’ territory.
Benavidez apologized for his role Tuesday, and he and his lawyer told Senior U.S. District Judge David Ezra that Benavidez had detached himself from the Bandidos by the time he was released from prison in 2014, after serving a five-year term for cocaine distribution conspiracy.
Like three others involved in the murder, Benavidez had already put the unsolved Benesh slaying in his rear-view mirror. But the case was resurrected as the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI and Texas Department of Public Safety conducted a racketeering investigation of the Bandidos leadership.
They arrested Benavidez in March 2017 along with three other ex-members of the Bandidos for the Benesh killing, a hit ordered by Bandidos leaders. Benavidez immediately confessed to his part in the Benesh slaying, and corroborated details that included the roles of others involved, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Fuchs.
He was not called to testify at the trial this spring of former national president Jeffrey Fay Pike of Conroe and Pike’s vice president, John Xavier Portillo of San Antonio. Benavidez did, however, point prosecutors to news articles that contradicted the testimony of Pike, who claimed that there was no bad blood between the Bandidos and the Hell’s Angels at the time of the Benesh slaying.
Pike, 63, and Portillo, 59, were convicted of charges that they ordered, sanctioned or led the Bandidos’ racketeering conspiracy that included attacks or murders on rivals and wayward Bandidos. Both were sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Benavidez faced 30 years to life in prison for his guilty plea to discharging a firearm in a racketeering murder, but the government asked the judge to give him no more than 15 years in prison because of his cooperation.
Benavidez’s lawyer, Monica Guerrero, asked for a sentence of 10 to 12 years in prison.
Last week, Ezra sentenced Johnny “Downtown” Romo to 15 years in prison and his brother Robert Romo to 18 years in prison, both without parole, for their roles in the Benesh slaying. Johnny Romo, a former national sergeant-at-arms for the Bandidos, put together the hit crew after orders were passed down from the leaders. Robert Romo shot Benesh with a hunting rifle from a vehicle driven by Benavidez, according to Robert Romo’s testimony.
Ezra also last week sentenced another former Bandidos member who was part of the hit crew, Norberto “Hammer” Serna Jr., to 21 years and eight months in prison. Serna did not cooperate and did not testify.
Two more ex-Bandidos who cooperated in the racketeering case are scheduled for sentencing: Justin Cole Forster, who was a national sergeant-at-arms, faces sentencing Wednesday, and Andrew “Corky” Gomez on Thursday.
Source: My San Antonio