Man guilty of witness intimidation

first_imgNORWALK – Jurors convicted a 30-year-old accountant Monday of attempting to intimidate a witness at the order of gang members. Henry Beserra, who wears button-down shirts, is hardly the picture of a gang member, but the recording he made, witnesses in the trial concluded, was to be used to prove to incarcerated Mexican Mafia leaders that the witness had become a “rat” and should be killed. Jurors took just four hours to return a guilty verdict against Beserra, a former UCLA student referred to in court as a “ghost,” or an underground go-to guy for a prison gang. He was convicted of attempted witness intimidation with a gang enhancement. “Ghosts aren’t recognized as gang members. But they’re really into doing things that need to be done for the gang,” a witness and Mexican Mafia member testified last week. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2Judge Philip Hickok ordered Beserra to return to Norwalk Court on June 15 for sentencing. Defense attorney Noland King said Beserra is innocent, and a victim of overly aggressive prosecutors. “All Mr. Beserra was doing was picking up his cell phone to make a call,” said King, arguing that he inadvertently made the four-minute recording by pressing the wrong button on his phone. On Sept. 2, Beserra sat in Whittier Court, watching a preliminary hearing in a case in which a Mexican Mafia gangster was the victim. The gangster, from Santa Fe Springs, testified that a rival gang member attempted to kill him because he told a local gang to pay taxes to the Mexican mafia on its drug sales. A supervising bailiff confiscated Beserra’s cell phone during the witness’ testimony when he saw him holding it in court. He noticed there was a recording on the phone, and gave it to detectives to investigate. Detectives testified that he was planning to use the recording, in which the witness can be heard saying and spelling his name, as proof that the witness was “ratting out” his gang. But King argued that Beserra is innocent and was in court to support a family member charged with trying to kill the witness. “Mr. Beserra is an accountant. His family is here in court supporting him. He was in court supporting his cousin \,” King said. During the trial last week, Beserra sat calmly watching the proceedings. He sat politely throughout the trial, his hands folded in front of him, wearing button-down shirts. He chatted with attorneys and court personnel during breaks. With no visible tattoos, a military-style haircut and a pleasant demeanor, he appeared out of place amid gang investigators and tattooed witnesses on the stand. But this is not Beserra’s first conviction. In 2002, he was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon and making criminal threats, according to court records. He was also held to answer on charges of rape, sodomy and false imprisonment among other crimes in 2002, according to court records. Monday’s conviction could be considered Beserra’s third strike, landing him in prison for a maximum of 25 years to life. Deputy District Attorney Mike Enomoto testified that his voice can be heard on Beserra’s recording, as he questioned the witness. Enomoto said this is the first time he’s learned of underground Mexican Mafia members called “ghosts.” “This is the first time I’ve dealt with a ghost in one of my cases,” he said. “They are, by nature, clandestine. You would not by looking at Beserra think he was gang related. If not for an alert bailiff, this recording would have gone undetected.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3026160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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