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Gang members to serve total of 70 years in prison; third member arrested

By Gheni_Platenburg
Feb. 2, 2012 at 7:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 2, 2012 at 8:03 p.m.

History of case

The defendants' convictions bring the Victoria County District Attorney's Office one step closer to concluding the barrage of cases against HPL members.

In October 2010, a Victoria County grand jury indicted 16 members of the gang on murder or attempted murder charges spanning from 2001 to 2008.

The remaining members with pending cases are Joe Mendoza, who is serving a life sentence for the 2003 shooting death of 6-year-old Robert "Polo" Conchola, and Hilario Figirova, aka "Dirty Pennies," who was arrested on Wednesday after being on the run.

Some witnesses who were involved in the assaults on Paul Benavides struck plea deals in exchange for their testimony. Marcus Perez received 30 years in prison in exchange for his testimony in several HPL cases, while the charges against Claro Lopez were dismissed without prejudice in exchange for his testimony in other HPL cases.

Two Victoria gang members on Thursday accepted a plea deal that collectively will put them in prison for 70 years.

Robert "Stutter" Lindstrom and Robert "Wedo" Saldana were found guilty on Monday of conspiring to cause serious bodily harm to Paul "Pow Wow" Benavides by shooting him in September 2006.

All three men are members of the Hermanos Pistoleros Latinos street gang.

Instead of letting the jury decide punishment, the men opted to sign plea agreements in a Thursday morning hearing conducted before District Judge Robert Cheshire.

Saldana was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Lindstrom, who agreed to plead guilty to his involvement in the 2006 and a July 2005 murder attempts on Benavides, was sentenced to 40 years on each count.

His sentences will run concurrently.

As part of their plea agreements, both men also agreed to pay court costs and have it reflected in their records that they are members of the HPL and that they used a deadly weapon during the commission of their crimes.

They will be eligible for parole consideration after serving half their sentences.

"This was a cold case. We were able to breathe life into it," said Victoria County District Attorney Steve Tyler. "I am satisfied with the results."

Tyler said he made the plea recommendations based on the strength of the cases.

Alex Luna, Lindstrom's attorney, and Bill White, Saldana's attorney, declined to comment about the outcome of the cases.

Tyler offered this message to those people involved in gangs.

"It's not glamour. It's not Hollywood. It doesn't make you rich," he said. "It makes you spend your whole life or at least a big chunk of it in prison."



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