HAMMOND | Testimony from an East Chicago detective during the federal trial of alleged Imperial Gangster Richard Reyes on Thursday revealed a confidential informant who claimed Armando Ortega was actually the shooter in the 2007 drive-by killing of Rene Alonzo.
Ortega, of East Chicago, previously had testified that he provided the gun to Reyes and that Reyes fired shots out the window of a maroon minivan that resulted in Alonzo's death.
Reyes, 41, of East Chicago, has been charged with racketeering, conspiracy to deal cocaine and marijuana, murder in the aid of racketeering activity and murder resulting from the use of a firearm.
Detective Terence Fife said he received a phone call from an informant, a Latin King member, that a third-party source told him Ortega was the shooter.
The informant claimed Reyes lent the maroon minivan to Ortega.
A second man, Albert Alvarez, also was identified by the informant as being involved in the shooting.
Other testimony questioned the reliability of witnesses Roberto Rodriguez and Michael Comanse, who gave conflicting statements when interviewed by East Chicago Police during the initial investigation.
The defense also called Reyes' ex-wife, Carmen Maria Morales, who claimed Reyes was never involved in gang activity. She said when Reyes was at St. Catherine Hospital recovering from a gunshot wound, she was by Reyes' side the entire time. She claimed no members of the Imperial Gangsters visited Reyes.
When Reyes woke up from a coma, he could not remember anything from the shooting incident, Morales said.
However, when prosecuting attorney Bruce Hegyi asked Morales if Reyes was a member of the Imperial Gangsters, she answered yes.
Earlier trial testimony from one of the 22 members of the Imperial Gangsters who already have pleaded guilty identified an East Chicago councilman as wanting to buy cocaine.
Eddie Torres, 41, of East Chicago, said Wednesday during testimony that he and Reyes had a falling out in 2005 due to an incident with Councilman Roger Battle.
Torres said Battle tried to buy 3 kilos of cocaine, then attempted to bypass Torres and buy the drugs in Chicago, where he was robbed.
Torres said Reyes blamed him for setting up the robbery, and demanded a cut of $20,000 from the stolen money. Torres said he told Reyes he was not involved in the robbery.
Councilman Battle did not respond to The Times' calls for comment.
Defense attorney Jack Friedlander questioned Torres about previous burglaries that Torres said Reyes had committed in early 2000s, then noted Torres told the grand jury they happened in the 1990s.
Torres also told the grand jury he never received drugs from Reyes, although on Wednesday he testified at trial that he had.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. today.