This guy had more charges than an iPhone and shadier friends than Tom Sizemore, but George Torres, founder of the Numero Uno markets and onetime alleged racketeer, is off the hook. Feds earlier this year withdrew RICO charges against him, and now they're down to one count. Torres, who sold his stores, pleaded guilty to failing to collect payroll tax from his employees there. He's served his time, and the case is done.

We profiled his case earlier this year, noting that he was “charged with tax fraud, bribery and solicitation of murder in allegedly running his grocery store chain as a criminal enterprise” and that he also “flew in private jets to gamble in Las Vegas with drug dealers.”

In fact, he could have faced life in prision after a federal jury found him guilty of 55 counts that included bribery and ordering hits on rivals. The Associated Press reports that Torres pleaded guilty to one count of failing to collect proper taxes from employees and was allowed to remain free because a judge determined he already served enough time awaiting and during his trial.

His was a rags to riches story, but there are strong indications he ran with the wrong crowd, even as he rubbed shoulders with area leaders such as Sheriff Lee Baca and former Los Angeles city Councilman Richard Alatorre.

LA Weekly reported, in fact, that “some of the most damning information never saw the cold light of a public trial in Judge [Steven V.] Wilson's courtroom. Wilson excluded evidence that suggested Torres not only befriended drug dealers who committed crimes for him, but got high with them as well. Wilson also excluded evidence that Torres had purchased a Mac-10 gun for a drug-dealer associate who Torres then allegedly instructed to kill on his behalf, until Torres allegedly had that associate killed for stealing from him.”

What gives? Did he make a deal? Did he finger a friend? Inquiring minds want to know.

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[Spotted at LAObserved].

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