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Thursday, December 13, 2018

Iron Horsemen MC member killed in home invasion

Cincinnati, Ohio (December 12, 2018) BTN — A man was shot and killed while breaking into a home in Whitewater Township early Wednesday, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. Investigators identified him as Andrew Naegele, 26. That homeowner, John Heard, is now charged.

Heard, called 911 and reported that he had shot a man in the chest as he was breaking into his home on Ohio 128 near Cilley Road just before 1 a.m.

During the 911 call, Heard said that the man he shot and killed was a member of the Iron Horsemen motorcycle club who also came to his house on Monday night to "rough him up," but he didn't know him.

"I told him to leave, leave, leave," the man said on the call to 911. "And he come at me and he knew that I had a gun. And he kept coming. I had to shoot him.”

Deputies interviewed the homeowner. They say Heard admitted that Naegele was his drug dealer there to collect money he owed for methamphetamine.

Heard has been taken to jail on a gun charge. He's not allowed to have a gun due to a previous conviction.

Deputies say they're still investigating whether additional charges will be filed.

Detectives are also trying to find a pickup truck seen by witnesses leaving the home immediately after the shooting. They don't have any information about make, model or color.

SOURCE: Local12

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Feds betting Mongols MC will not survive

Santa Ana, California (December 11, 2018) BTN — When federal prosecutors finally managed to put mobster Al Capone behind bars, it wasn’t for murder or bootlegging, but tax evasion.

Fast forward several decades and government lawyers in Southern California say a similarly novel tactic could be the key to taking down the Mongols, a motorcycle club that has long been targeted by authorities for killings and drug trafficking. Instead of tax returns, the court battle this time will be won or lost in the decidedly unexciting trenches of trademark and forfeiture law

Law enforcement officials announce the arrests of members of the Mongols motorcycle club in 2008. 

If the government prevails in a racketeering case in Orange County against the group’s leadership, prosecutors plan to seek a court order to seize control of the club’s coveted, trademarked insignia, which its members wear emblazoned on the back of their biker jackets.

Related | Jesse Ventura defends Mongols MC in federal court
Related | Mongols MC: Feds going after clubs colors at racketeering trial

Both sides agree the insignia — a muscled, Asian man with a ponytail and sunglasses riding a motorcycle beneath the club’s name in capital letters — is a vital and potent part of the club’s identity. In trying to wrest it away, justice officials are banking on the idea that if they own the trademark, they will be able to choke off the club’s lifeline by preventing current and future members from wearing the image.

But it’s an open question whether the untested legal ploy will work, trademark experts said.

“It’s a strange tool to use to try to stamp out an organization,” said Ben M. Davidson, a trademark attorney in Los Angeles. “This club doesn’t exist because of its trademark, and I don’t think losing it is what’s going to stop them from being a club.”

The Mongols were formed in the 1970s in Montebello, outside of Los Angeles, by a group of Latino men who reportedly had been rejected for membership by the Hells Angels motorcycle club. It has expanded over the decades to include several hundred members in chapters across Southern California and elsewhere.

Like many social clubs, the Mongols have a constitution and bylaws, while top officials in the club’s “Mother Chapter” in West Covina collect dues from members, according to court records. But the Mongols are also a group that investigators say kept a cache of assault rifles, other weapons and bulletproof vests at its headquarters.

The Mongols club has been in the federal government’s crosshairs for years, along with several other groups authorities have identified as “outlaw motorcycle gangs.” Despite their claims of being innocent social clubs, the groups, which include the Hells Angels, Vagos and The Outlaws, have long track records of warring with each other and, according to authorities, operate as criminal organizations that subsist on the drug trade.

In 2008, nearly 80 Mongols members were charged in a sweeping racketeering case that included an array of alleged murders, assaults and drug deals. The charges were the culmination of Operation Black Rain, an investigation that centered on Mongols who had become paid informants and four undercover agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives who infiltrated the club’s ranks.

The idea of stripping the Mongols of their insignia was born in this earlier case. At a news conference announcing the charges, then-U.S. Atty. Thomas P. O’Brien laid out plans to take control of the trademark — a move that he said would give the government the authority to force Mongols members to remove their coveted insignia from their riding jackets.

“We’re going after their very identity,” O’Brien said.

All but two of the defendants in the case pleaded guilty, and a judge agreed the trademark should be forfeited as part of the sentences handed down. The judge ultimately reversed himself, however, after deciding none of the people charged in the case actually owned the trademark and, so, couldn’t forfeit it.

Prosecutors tried a new tack in 2013, when they filed a second racketeering case that was largely the same as the first but which named only one defendant — Mongol Nation, the entity which prosecutors say is made up of the club’s leaders and owns the trademark.

In the new case, for example, prosecutors accused the Mongol Nation of being responsible for the 2008 murder in San Francisco of a Hells Angels member by a Mongols member.

The new effort was nearly derailed when U.S. District Judge David O. Carter threw it out on legal grounds. But an appeals court overruled Carter, and the case finally went to trial last month. Over several weeks of testimony, prosecutors once again relied on the now-retired undercover ATF agents to testify about their time posing as Mongol members.

Defense attorney Joseph Yanny, meanwhile, argued that any violence by members was committed in self-defense, and anyone found dealing drugs was kicked out of the club.

If the jury, which began deliberating last week, delivers a guilty verdict on the new racketeering charges, the panel and Carter will then have to decide whether the Mongols should forfeit their trademark as part of the sentence. The government also wants large fines imposed on the club if it is convicted.

People and organizations commonly are stripped of cash, expensive cars, yachts and other tangible valuables as part of their criminal sentences.

Taking a trademark, however, is uncharted waters.

Through a spokesman, the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment. But from what the government attempted in the first trial and their filings in the current case, it is clear prosecutors believe that with the trademark in hand they will have the authority to ban Mongols members from wearing their riding jackets, which display the insignia on the back and other smaller patches.

Yanny said he plans to raise multiple legal challenges if the government goes after the Mongols’ trademark, including the club members’ constitutional right under the 1st Amendment to express themselves freely.

Beyond those legal hurdles, experts in trademark law expressed doubts about the government’s plan. Unlike a patent, a trademark has legal heft only if the owner continues to produce the product or service that the trademark protects. The trademark Apple owns on its computers, for example, exists only as long as the company continues to make them, said Jason Rosenberg, a trademark attorney.

“I’m dubious,” Rosenberg said, echoing the doubts of other attorneys and academics. “Is the government really going to start its own motorcycle club?”

Even if justice officials licensed a law-abiding motorcycle club or law enforcement organization to use the Mongols insignia, Rosenberg and others remained skeptical of whether a judge’s seizure order forcing old Mongols members to hand over their jackets would stand up.

“They could probably get a seizure order for an inventory of jackets in a warehouse somewhere,” Rosenberg said, “but what happens six months from now when a motorcyclist is pulled over for wearing his jacket that he was given permission to wear by the club when they owned the trademark? I have never heard of trademark law being used to take the clothing off someone’s back.”


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Police arrest three connected to the Outlaws MC

Brockville, Canada (December 7, 2018) BTN — Brockville police and counterparts from other agencies on Thursday arrested three men in connection with activities of the Outlaws motorcycle club.

Thomas Bell, Norman Cranshaw Rosbottom and his son, Norman Stanley Rosbottom face charges including kidnapping, robbery, assault with a weapon, assault and two other offences relating to organized crime groups, police said.

A 2004 Pontiac and a Outlaws MC vest were also confiscated 

Brockville police officers, with help from the Ontario Provincial Police Biker Enforcement Unit, the Belleville Police Service and Kingston Police Service, executed search warrants at two Brockville residences, police said Friday.

During the raids, police said, officers seized items including Dead Eyes Outlaw Motorcycle Club vests, clothing and related paraphernalia, documents supporting involvement in a criminal organization, a small quantity of cocaine, cellphones, clothing “worn during commission of offences” and a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix.

“This investigation is ongoing with potentially more arrests and charges forthcoming,” Brockville police said in a media release. The offences all happened here, Brockville Police Staff Sgt. Tom Fournier said. “They happened in the city of Brockville, I would say, from early summer on until (Thursday),” Fournier said. “It’s got to do with the gang activity.”

"Brockville police work in conjunction with other area forces because biker gangs are constantly on the move", Fournier added. City police have been aware of the Outlaws in the area for nearly two years, but, “over the past summer, there’s been a drastic increase” in their activity, he said.

This was the Brockville police force’s second motorcycle club raid this fall. In September, police arrested two other people in connection with drug and weapons offences with motorcycle club links. Four other people were initially sought after that raid, but all eventually turned themselves in to police in Brockville and Kingston.

Brockville police and the OPP biker unit on Friday urged citizens “not to support organized criminal activity, including seemingly harmless activities like purchasing support gear or participating in charitable activities organized by these groups.”

“The presence of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMGs) in any community should be a concern,” a joint police statement added. “Citizens should minimize contact with gang members and report any OMG activity to police in their jurisdiction.”

SOURCE: Ottawa Citizen 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Bandidos MC members charged in beating

Abilene, TX (December 6, 2018) BTN — A trio of Bandidos motorcycle members have been indicted for allegedly violently robbing a rival club member who drove through their 'turf' while wearing the rival club's vest.
Daniel Machado, Justin Aldava, and Jesse Trevino were all indicted for Aggravated Robbery in connection to the incident that took place in July of 2018. They have all been released from jail after posting a $150,000 bond each.

Court documents state the victim, a member of the Kinfolk MC was riding near the Bandidos Motorcycle clubhouse on the 1300 block of Butternut Street when he noticed three bikers - later identified as Machado, Alvada, and Trevino - leave the clubhouse and start to follow him.

He sped up, but the documents say the trio kept going, kicking him in the back when they reached him and eventually cutting him off and stopping his path, forcing him to turn into a small parking lot

Once in the parking lot, the victim drew a gun in self-defense, but the documents state the trio began shouting, "There are 30 more people coming to get you", "You can't disrespect the Bandidos", "This is our turf", and "We're going to shut you up like we shut Dusty*** up."

The victim then holstered his gun and attempted to flee, but the trio tackled him and began kicking, punching, and stomping him in the back, hips, knees, shoulders, and head, according to the documents.

They ripped the rival vest off him and took his cell phone and gun before ramming into him with a motorcycle then fleeing, the documents reveal.

When police arrived on scene, the documents state they saw the victim, "had some cuts, scrapes, and bruises all over his body and had fresh blood pouring from his face, hands, and elbows."


Thursday, December 6, 2018

Pagans MC leader sentenced to life plus 30

Mays Landing, N.J. (December  6, 2018) BTN — Freddy Augello finally got his chance to speak his mind in court on Wednesday, and the Jersey Shore Pagans motorcycle club leader, guitar maker, and convicted murderer blamed the 2012 killing of April Kauffman on two other men: one who testified against him and another who died of an overdose years ago.

“I’m not John Gotti," he told Superior Court Judge Bernard DeLury.

DeLury was undeterred. After listening to Augello for more than 20 minutes — a speech the prosecutor later called “the ramblings of a man who’s going to spend the next 55 years in jail” — he sentenced Augello, 62, to life in prison for being the leader of a drug ring, and 30 years for murder.

Augello would not be eligible for parole unless he lived to age 117. He plans an appeal of the verdict.

The sentencing ended the long drama of the April Kauffman murder, a crime set in motion by her husband, endocrinologist James Kauffman, who had also been charged with murder but hanged himself inside a Hudson County jail cell.

Atlantic County Prosecutor Damon Tyner said after the verdict that the only things remaining unknown in the murder-for-hire scheme were the location of the gun used to kill Kauffman inside her bedroom -- and why authorities and others did nothing to solve the case for nearly six years.

“Shame on anyone who sat on their hands and did nothing while being content to allow murderers to go free, to walk the streets of our county,” Tyner said.

April Kauffman was an outspoken radio host and veterans advocate who counted politicians, police officers, and numerous veterans among her friends and admirers. Prosecutors believe that she was trying to divorce James Kauffman, and that he wanted her killed to protect his assets and to prevent her from revealing a drug ring he was running with members of the Pagans Motorcycle Club.

Augello downplayed the extent of the drug operation, which prosecutors said revolved around Kauffman’s medical office.

“It was not a drug ring,” he said. “It was a drug-addict ring.”

He accused Tyner of exploiting the case to advance a political career. Before the sentencing, the judge dismissed a motion to set aside the verdict, saying he found no evidence the Prosecutor’s Office had withheld exculpatory evidence, as one current and two former employees of the office have contended.

Despite his impassioned speech to the judge, in which he said he felt “horrible” for what Kauffman’s daughter, Kimberly Pack, has gone through, but denied any connection to the murder, Augello showed little reaction to the sentence as he was led out of the courtroom.

At the trial, Joseph Mullholland testified that he drove the man recruited to do the killing for “the doc” — identified as Francis Mulholland — to Linwood on the day of the murder. Joseph Mulholland pleaded guilty to drug offenses but has not been sentenced. Francis Mullholland died after taking a lethal dose of heroin, which Augello said he believed had been given to him by Joseph Mulholland.

“I didn’t murder Mrs. Kauffman,” he said. “I didn’t send anyone to murder Mrs. Kauffman. This whole thing is a farce. There’s no justice for April until you can dig Francis Mulholland out of his grave.”

Pack detailed the dark years that have followed her mother’s murder, her life dogged by rumors and the burden of the unsolved crime in the death of a woman she said was her best friend.

“I do not wish anyone ill will in this case,” she said. "I am just so sad. "
Friends of Augello filled the courtroom and said they did not believe Augello had a role in the murder or was a drug kingpin as described by prosecutors.

“I’ve watched him build guitars," said Anna Caulk, who said she’d been friends with Augello for 40 years, first meeting as fellow motorcycle riders in South Jersey. “If it’s the world’s biggest drug ring, where’s the money? They didn’t follow the money trail. Freddy didn’t have a dime.”

SOURCE: The Inquirer

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

A Motorcycle Club can’t conspire with itself

Santa Ana, California  (December  5, 2018) BTN — A defense attorney for the Mongol Nation motorcycle club told a California jury Tuesday that federal prosecutors had not presented any evidence that the club ever violated racketeering laws or engaged in a conspiracy — indeed, he said, it could not be convicted of conspiracy because an entity cannot conspire with itself.

The Mongols MC are fighting the Feds for their trademarked logo

“There’s no evidence that the Mongol Nation conspired to do anything,” Joseph A. Yanny told the Orange County jury in his closing arguments.

“There are individual members” who have committed crimes, he acknowledged, but “there’s no evidence at all that the club joined in those activities.”

He said the club itself cannot be held liable for “isolated incidents committed by boneheads.”

Related | Jesse Ventura defends Mongols MC in federal court
Related | Mongols MC: Feds going after clubs colors at racketeering trial

Yanny described the prosecution of his client — which began with undercover investigations going back 20 years — as persecution of the largely Latino club by corrupt agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. He implored the jury to “send a message that this type of prosecution against these men has got to stop.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher M. Brunwin countered that the Mongol Nation as a body encourages and rewards crime. “They are a violent organization that attacks people, that kills people and that distributes drugs,” he said during rebuttal.

“This is what they do,” Brunwin said as he displayed a photo of a man beaten to death by Mongols. “This is what they brag about. This is what they’re proud of.”

He said the Mongol Nation even rewards members who kill people on its behalf with special patches to sew onto their biker vests, including one he called a “murder patch.” It shows a skull-and-crossbones with a capital “M” on the skull’s forehead.

He scoffed at Yanny’s explanation that the M merely stands for Mongols.

Brunwin and co-counsel Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven R. Welk charged the Mongol Nation, as an “unincorporated association,” with violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and conspiracy to commit racketeering.

They have not charged any individuals with crimes. As Yanny told the jury at the beginning of the trial, “No one is going to jail out of this trial.”

In a 2008 case, however, 79 Mongols and associates pleaded guilty to racketeering and other crimes.

A major goal of the current case is to seize, through criminal forfeiture, the clubs’s trademark to its distinctive main patch, which full members wear on the back of their vests. The design shows the word “Mongols” in an arc above what has been described as “a cartoonish depiction of a Genghis Khan-like character” riding a motorcycle and waving a sword.

If the prosecutors succeed, “no member of the club would be allowed to wear the trademark that we believe is synonymous with the group,” a representative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office has said.

Prosecutors are also seeking a fine and forfeiture of the club’s assets.

A significant but technical legal issue facing the jury is whether the Mongol Nation as an entity can be guilty of racketeering and conspiracy to engage in racketeering with itself. Under the federal RICO Act, a “person,” including a corporation or association, can be charged with a crime only for engaging racketeering activities with an “enterprise.”

Brunwin and Welk say that criminal enterprise is the larger Mongol biker club, of which the formal Mongol Nation is only a piece. At one point in the case, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ruled that “there is no meaningful distinction” between the two, but he was reversed in July 2017 by the Ninth Circuit.

On Monday morning, Carter instructed the jury that prosecutors must prove the Mongol Nation and the Mongol club are distinct entities. The Mongol Nation cannot be guilty of racketeering, the judge said, if there is only one entity.

Therefore, Yanny later told the jury, “If you find that there is no distinction, we can all go home. You just find the defendant not guilty.” After all, he argued, “Where did you hear testimony that the Mongol Nation is separate from the Mongol club? I don’t remember any testimony like that during the government’s case.”

In his closing argument Monday, Welk argued that only Mongols who have risen through the ranks to earn the right to wear the complete insignia patch on their vests are members of the Mongol Nation. Citing the group’s detailed, written constitution, he said that other associates, prospects and “hang-arounds” are only part of the club but not “full-patch” Mongols.

Yanny scoffed at the distinction. “They’re all members; they’re just members with different degrees of rights and responsibilities,” he said. “They all pay dues,” and they all owe loyalty to the club. Although they can’t vote on club business, men in the process of earning a patch do attend the group’s meetings to assist the full-patch members by guarding the motorcycles and running errands.

Brunwin countered that the Mongol Nation is a legal person because it can, and does, own property, specifically its trademarks in the patch design. Other members of the broader club have no property interests in the trademarks, he said.

The prosecutor spent most of his rebuttal, however, recalling evidence of several violent crimes attributed to Mongols, including the murder of a Hells Angels leader in San Francisco, beatings and knifings of enemies or men they believed had insulted them, and a deadly brawl between a large number of Mongols and Hells Angels in Laughlin, Nev., in 2002.

“Is this an organization that conspires to commit murder?” Brunwin asked. “You bet it is, and you heard it over and over” from witnesses and from Mongols themselves in audio and video recordings played during the five-week trial.

He ended by recounting again for the jury the death of local police officer Shaun Diamond, allegedly killed when Mongol David Martinez fired a shotgun as police broke down Martinez’s door at 4 a.m. in October 2014 to serve a search warrant. A slug from the shotgun entered the back of Diamond’s head and came out through his mouth as his partner watched, Brunwin said.

The jury began deliberating early Tuesday afternoon.

Retired cop testifies about Hells Angels at trial

Vancouver, B.C. (December 5, 2018) BTN — The retired head of the Ontario Provincial Police Biker Enforcement Unit testified in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday that Hells Angels paraphernalia and “knick knacks” on display at clubhouses are there to intimidate those who visit.

Len Isnor, who retired last year, prepared a report on the motorcycle club for the B.C. Director of Civil Forfeiture to be used in his efforts to get clubhouses in Nanaimo, East Vancouver and Kelowna forfeited to the provincial government as alleged instruments of criminal activity.

Kelowna Hells Angels president Damiano Dipopolo (center) 

But first, the director must get Justice Barry Davies to determine whether Isnor will be qualified as an expert at the long-running civil forfeiture trial.

A lawyer for the Hells Angels challenged Isnor in cross-examination Tuesday about parts of his report.

“You refer to memorabilia and knick knacks are for intimidation. Just looking at the pictures, which knick knacks are for intimidation in those photos?” lawyer Joe Arvay asked Isnor.

Isnor pointed to a photo and said, “A Hells Angel with the death head on his head on top of a dragon.”

“So someone going into the clubhouse and seeing that is going to be intimidated, is that your point?” Arvay asked.

Isnor replied: “Yes, sir.”

Isnor also said in the report that he believed some children’s books and toys had been placed on an end table inside the Kelowna clubhouse before his court-ordered inspection in order to make it seem family friendly. “This is the first time I have ever seen or heard of an area set up in a clubhouse for children. In my opinion, this was set up because of my inspection of the clubhouse,” Isnor’s report said.

Arvay asked Isnor if it was also possible that the toys were inside the clubhouse because “one or more of the members of the Kelowna clubhouse have children and that they may go to the clubhouse at times.”

Isnor testified that in 23 years of investigating the Hells Angels and other motorcycle clubs, he had never seen children in a clubhouse.

Arvay asked Isnor if he knew that Kelowna Hells Angels president Damiano Dipopolo “has eight children, and he might want to have some toys in the clubhouse when he is there with his children?”

Isnor pointed out that Dipopolo lives in Metro Vancouver.

“This clubhouse is in Kelowna, so I doubt that Mr. Dipopolo is bringing his children to this clubhouse. And the area in which these toys are set up is with the adult type entertainment in there. It just doesn’t mix,” Isnor said. “It doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”

Arvay suggested that if the Kelowna clubhouse had a children’s play area, that would “distinguish” it from other Hells Angels clubhouses.

“Would you be prepared to concede that if in fact children were allowed into the Kelowna clubhouse and that’s the reason why there are some children’s books and toys, then that would demonstrate to you that you can’t paint with the same broad brush all the clubhouses in the world, right?” he asked.

Isnor said he would “hate to hear” of children being in a clubhouse “knowing how dangerous they are.”
His report also described bullet-proof windows at the East End clubhouse in Vancouver, and said the Kelowna clubhouse had similar-looking windows. He wrote that he thought the Kelowna bikers had emptied out most of the alcohol from the fridge prior to his inspection.

The report also said that most Hells Angels “are no longer passionate about motorcycles, but rather they hide behind the guise that they are an organization of motorcycle clubs.

“Though it is mandatory for all HA members to have a motorcycle, the passion for the motorcycle is secondary to the reputation and criminality of the organization,” Isnor wrote.

The trial continues.

SOURCE: Vancouver Sun

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Mongols MC trademark trial wrapping up

Los Angeles, CA (December  4, 2018) BTN — A federal prosecutor Monday told jurors who were “witnesses to a lengthy parade of cruelty” for the past five weeks in a trial against a Los Angeles-based motorcycle club that they should vote to yank the Mongol Nation’s trademark while the organization’s attorney argued it has been targeted because its membership is primarily Mexican-American.

Members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club

“Over the past five weeks you’ve been witness to a lengthy parade of cruelty,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Welk said of the evidence presented of the club’s criminal history since its founding in 1969. For the first time, federal prosecutors are trying to get a motorcycle club found guilty of racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering in order to have its trademark taken away. It would mean the club’s motorcyclists could no longer wear the patches they wear on their “cuts,” slang for leather jackets.

Related | Mongols MC: Feds going after clubs colors at racketeering trial

Welk argued that the club’s members commit a range of crimes from drug trafficking to murder, all in service to the organization and at the direction of its leaders.

He argued that “for the most part innocent civilians” are often the ones who become the club’s victims because they “had the misfortune to encounter members of this defendant organization.”

Mongol Nation’s members have a “twisted sense of honor” in its “codes” of conduct “that are inconsistent with the rules of civilized society,” Welk argued.

The trial featured about 40 witnesses, including former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, and about 200 exhibits, Welk noted. The patches Mongols wear on their leather jackets are meant to be “messages and signals” to rival gang members and even the general public that Mongols should be feared.

“A Hell’s Angel knows what that patch means,” Welk said. “When they see that Road King vest with a skull-and-crossbones patch they know what he did, that he killed… for his gang.”

A “civilian” might not quite understand the specific meaning of a “murder patch” featuring the skull-and-crossbones, Welk argued, but they get the general idea and are often the victims when they “offend” a Mongol.

“Their trigger mechanism is shockingly low,” Welk said. “So those (patches) are powerful, not just to the men who want to wear them, but to everyone.” Welk noted that Mongols are instructed to not wear their leather jackets with patches in a car, and when they drive a car they are taught to fold them in a way to conceal their affiliation with the club from police.

“It’s all about protecting themselves because they are a paranoid organization,” Welk argued. “They’re fearful and deeply suspicious of the government.”

Even if one of its members gets a motorcycle stolen they are told to not report the crime, but to instead report the vehicle missing so if it’s found they can retrieve it, Welk said. Instead, the Mongols would rather investigate a theft of their property on their own, he added.

“They consider themselves a law unto themselves,” Welk said. The club’s wives and girlfriends are considered “property,” Welk said. And the gang is noted for its prejudice against African-Americans, Welk argued.

Welk argued that Ventura testified that when his fellow club members were about to discuss any illicit activity he would leave the room so as not to be tied up with it.

“He was like I didn’t care, I didn’t know about it, I wasn’t going to jail,” Welk said. “And that’s messed up.”

The Feds are going after the Mongols MC's logo

Ventura said after his testimony that he considered the government’s attempts to seize the club’s trademark as a threat to the First Amendment. “This is bigger than the Mongols club,” Ventura said. “You’ve got the government… telling you what you can and cannot wear.”

He added, “The First Amendment is to protect unpopular speech… Some people may think the Mongols are horrible, but they still have equal rights under the Bill of Rights… Who’s next? The Shriners? Where does it end? It’s a First Amendment issue top to bottom.” Ventura said he didn’t know anything about the crimes federal prosecutors have alleged over the years.

“They did not have that when I was in it,” Ventura said of his active membership in the gang, beginning in the early 1970s when the ex-Navy SEAL returned home from the service. “There are cops who break the law, so do you devalue the whole police force?” Ventura said.

Ventura said he wears a denim jacket he received as Mongol when he goes out motorcycling. “That’s how old I am,” the 67-year-old Ventura said with a chuckle. Ventura wondered what would happen if the government wins its case. “Are they going to stop the 38th governor of Minnesota and take his jacket?” Ventura said.

Attorney Joseph A. Yanny argued that the government’s case is “the best book of fiction I’ve ever heard in my life.” Yanny said the government went after his client for racial reasons. “I believe this group has been targeted because they have a lot of Mexican-Americans in there,” Yanny said.

Yanny argued that much of the government’s case rests on testimony and quotes from documentaries from former members who made plea deals with prosecutors. “People will sign anything to get a better deal for themselves,” Yanny said, adding that one former head of the club denied in his testimony that he did any of the crimes he pleaded guilty to.

“And they all got less time,” he said of the 70 some former members who have pleaded guilty in cases stemming from undercover investigations in which FBI and ATF agents infiltrated the club. “It’s time to send a message for sure to the ATF and U.S. government,” Yanny said. “They shouldn’t afflict people this way.”

Yanny argued that the members who have committed crimes were kicked out for violating “zero tolerance” policies against illicit activity that draws the attention of law enforcement. Yanny even argued that one member convicted of murder was wrongly convicted and that he would like to help the man win his appeals.

“Rogue acts happen,” Yanny said. “Individual men have been convicted.” Yanny accused federal prosecutors of taking the “wrongful acts of a few individuals” and escalate it to a “group conviction.” “These are ordinary people,” he said of his clients. “They are hardworking people. You don’t see the Hell’s Angels here. You see the Mongols and minorities are easy to pick on and they typically don’t fight like these guys do.”


Friday, November 30, 2018

Bandidos MC member busted with pot crop

Sydney, AU (November 29, 2018) BTN — A senior member of the Bandidos motorcycle club will face court today after Strike Force Raptor located an elaborate hydro set-up in a bunker under a Western Sydney home, NSW Police say.

As part of ongoing targeting of criminal networks operating in NSW, the Criminal Groups Squad’s Strike Force Raptor attended a property at East Kurrajong about 7.30am yesterday (Tuesday 27 November 2018) to conduct a Firearms Prohibition Order (FPO) search.

Officers spoke with the subject of the FPO – a 41-year-old man – and his partner and two kids before commencing the search.

During the search, police located a hidden trapdoor which lead to an underground bunker which contained an elaborate hydroponic set-up.

A crime scene was established, and a short time later, Strike Force Raptor, assisted by specialist forensic officers, executed a crime scene warrant to dismantle the set-up. Police were also assisted at the location by an agronomist, Integral Energy, and Fire & Rescue NSW.

During the warrant, Strike Force Raptor seized 164 cannabis plants at various stages of maturity, 2kg of dried cannabis, and equipment used in the hydroponic cultivation of cannabis.

The 41-year-old man was arrested at the property and taken to Windsor Police Station.

He was charged with enhanced indoor cultivation for a commercial purpose, two counts of supply prohibited drug, and operate drug premises.

The man, who is a senior member of the Bandidos motorcycle club, was refused bail to appear at Windsor Local Court.

Strike Force Raptor was established in 2009 and conducts proactive investigations and intelligence-based, high-impact policing operations to prevent and disrupt conflicts, and dismantle any network engaged in serious organised criminal activity.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Jesse Ventura defends Mongols MC in federal court

Santa Ana, California (November 29, 2018) BTN — Former Minnesota governor and retired pro wrestler Jesse Ventura testified in a Santa Ana courtroom Wednesday about his longstanding membership in the Mongols Motorcycle Club, defending the organization against government allegations that it has operated as a criminal enterprise.

Ventura, the highest profile member of the Mongols, took the stand as an expert witness in the midst of an ongoing federal racketeering trial in which prosecutors are attempting to gain control over the motorcycle club’s trademark name, a move that would allow law enforcement to bar the bikers from wearing the patches that adorn their vests.

Jesse Ventura sitting on his Harley - Photo Credit: Alexia Wambua

“Are you a member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club,” Attorney Joseph Yanny, who is representing the Mongols, asked Ventura at the beginning of his testimony. “Yes I am,” replied Ventura, who later explained that he is currently an inactive member of the Mongols. “Are you member of a gang?” Yanny asked. “No,” Ventura responded. “Gangs generally don’t broadcast who they are.”

Related | Feds attempt to seize Mongols MC trademarked logo
During the trial, prosecutors have accused Mongols’ leaders of encouraging and rewarding members who commit crimes, including assault, drug trafficking and murder. The Mongols’ attorney has denied the allegations, telling jurors that the organization isn’t responsible for crimes committed by individual members or attacks carried out in self-defense, and claiming that law enforcement has entrapped some members into committing crimes.

Ventura said he joined the Mongols in 1973, shortly after returning from his second tour in Vietnam. The former governor testified that he was still an active duty member of the U.S. Navy when he became a “full-patch” member of the Mongols, recalling putting on his club vest as he left the base. “It was a stepping stone I needed to make the transition from military life back to civilian life,” Ventura said. “I owe them for being there for me when the rest of the world wasn’t.”

Ventura became an officer in the now-defunct South Bay San Diego County chapter of Mongols, but by late 1974 decided to step back from active membership in order to move back to Minnesota, where he had grown up. But Ventura said he has held onto his club vest and patches, including a “property of” patch he gave to his wife last year after more than 40 years of marriage.

Ventura denied that he had been ordered to take part in illegal activity as part of the Mongols.

“Yeah, there are some bad apples, that is true for any organization,” Ventura said. “But there are also a lot of damn good people in there. You can’t blame all for a few.” Ventura acknowledged he was not an active member of the Mongols when the clubs problems with the Hells Angels motorcycle club began in the late 70s, a rivalry that has led to repeated bloodshed on both sides over the subsequent decades. He said the Mongols had no choice but to retaliate. “I’d lose respect for them if they didn’t,” Ventura said.

During at times contentious questioning, a prosecutor challenged Ventura’s claim that he was unaware of any illegal activity. A clip of an interview between Ventura and podcaster Joe Rogan was played for the court, in which Ventura said the group’s president would tell him to leave their meetings if they were going to talk about illegal activity, since they knew Ventura was still in the military.

In the portion of the interview played in court, Ventura responded to Rogan asking him if it was weird to be in an organization involved in illegal activity by saying “No, because I thought at least I’m not going to go to jail.”

Ventura testified that he had no idea what the rest of the club’s leadership talked about during the meetings when he wasn’t present. At times, Ventura responded angrily or sarcastically to the prosecutors’ questions, at one point saying “are you kidding me” when asked if he knew what a SWAT team is.

What the Feds want

“I believe this trial is ridiculous because of the First Amendment,” Ventura said. During breaks in the hearing, a group of Mongols, dressed in suits and ties, gathered around to speak to Ventura in the hallway outside the courtroom.

The current federal trial stems from Operation Black Rain, a multi-agency effort involving law enforcement infiltrating the Mongols, which began in Montebello in the 1970s, and is now based in West Covina. An earlier racketeering case that targeted members of the Mongols rather than the organization itself resulted in 77 guilty pleas.

Among the incidents outlined by prosecutors during the trial have been the so-called 2002 River Run Riot in Laughlin, Nev. that left three Hells Angels and Mongols dead, a melee at the Morongo Casino in Cabazon near Palm Springs, and attacks, some fatal, allegedly carried out by Mongols in bars or restaurants in Hollywood, Pasadena, Merced, La Mirada, Wilmington and Riverside.


Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Secret recordings of Hells Angels played at trial

Toronto, ON (November 27, 2018) BTN — Clandestine recordings of Hells Angels members from a 2004 police investigation were played Tuesday at the civil forfeiture trial between the B.C. government and the motorcycle club. Former police agent Micheal Plante recalled in B.C. Supreme Court on Tuesday some of the conversations he had with Hells Angels about their conflicts and crimes more than 14 years ago.

Plante, in his second day of testimony on behalf of the director of civil forfeiture, listened intently as tapes of some of his intercepted conversations from 2004 were played for Justice Barry Davies. In one of the tapes, East End Hells Angel member Ronaldo Lising complained to Plante about other members of the club, including his fellow chapter mate, John Punko. Lising referenced Punko’s conviction for threatening a federal prosecutor in a Vancouver food court several years earlier.

The conversation happened in a drive to Kelowna in 2004 when Plante was working on behalf of the RCMP to infiltrate the East End Hells Angels.

Several Hells Angels and associates were later charged and convicted as a result of Plante’s work for the police on the E-Pandora investigation. Plante, who now lives under a new identity, was paid $1 million for his undercover work and for testifying at a series of criminal trials.

He told Davies Monday that he was being paid another $80,000 to testify in the civil proceedings between the Hells Angels and the government agency.

The B.C. Director of Civil Forfeiture is trying to get Hells Angels clubhouses in East Vancouver, Nanaimo and Kelowna forfeited to the government as the instruments of criminal activity. The Hells Angels have counter-sued the government, claiming the Civil Forfeiture Act is unconstitutional. The case has been ongoing since November 2007 when police first raided the Nanaimo clubhouse.

The recordings played Tuesday highlighted the infighting and petty disputes between some of the Hells Angels. In one reference, Lising complained about two other Hells Angels that he was in the drug trade with at the time. Plante explained the references to Davies.

“He was saying he was doing all the work … but he was still paying those guys half the money,” Plante testified.

Cops also want the East End Hells Angels Clubhouse 

Lising also appeared to threaten an unidentified group of people, saying, “those guys are not welcome in this f–king province.”

“If we see them, we are going to f–king take care of them,” he said in the recording.

Lising said he liked “being around Hells Angels” and attacked other full-patch members who didn’t want to socialize much within the group.

“Why do you want to be a Hells Angel if you are not going to hang out with Hells Angels?” he told Plante.

Two lawyers for the Hells Angels, Joe Arvay and Greg DelBigio, both objected to Plante’s attempts to interpret what Lising was referencing in the 14-year-old conversation.

“When he is listening to his own voice, he can say this is what I meant,” Arvay said. “But actually interpreting the tape, I don’t know if he has any greater expertise than any of us.”

Davies said that “the tape is the evidence, not the interpretation and not the transcript.”

“Unfortunately I have been doing this business of listening to these kinds of tapes for a long, long time,” Davies said of the grainy recordings. “I am just very glad that they aren’t playing heavy metal in the background for a change in the car because that’s the usual circumstance.”

Plante will be on the stand all week before returning for cross-examination in February.

SOURCE: The Province

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Pagans MC: Another member sues city officials

Pittsburgh, PA (November 26, 2018) BTN — A second member of the Pagans motorcycle club involved in a brawl with Pittsburgh police at a South Side bar last month that is under review by the U.S. attorney's office has sued the officers, the city and the sheriff.

Erik Heitzenrater, 28, of Hampton, names detectives Brian Burgunder, David Honick, David Lincoln and Brian Martin along with the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Sheriff William Mullen.

The federal suit is the second filed in regard to fight at Kopy's Bar between cops and the Pagans.

Frank DeLuca, a Pagan from Greenfield seen on video being repeatedly beaten, sued last week on claims that his civil rights were violated. Mr. Heitzenrater's suit raises similar allegations, saying the police officers were drunk and initiated the fight with the bikers.

Like Mr. DeLuca, he also claims false arrest and imprisonment, saying police lied in a complaint against him and his friends. He also says the sheriff's office improperly revoked his license to carry a gun after the incident. Mr. Heitzenrater's suit says the police had been drinking heavily in the bar on Oct. 11, starting at 7:30 p.m. The complaint, filed by attorney Martin Dietz, says Detective Honick had at least 13 drinks; Detective Burgunder had 19; Detective Martin had 14 and Detective Lincoln had seven.

Mr. Heitzenrater said Mr. DeLuca and another Pagan, Michael Zokaites, first entered the bar at 11:41 p.m. and ordered drinks. The suit said Detective Honick, who was seated at the bar near the door with the other police, noticed their Pagans jackets and "appeared to have some sort of fascination with DeLuca and Zokaites."

The bikers went to the back room to play pool.

Mr. Heitzenrater came into the bar next. He said Detective Honick noticed his jacket and turned to the other officers to say something. Two other Pagans also came in and ordered drinks. Detective Honick shook their hands and talked to them briefly, according to the complaint. Another Pagan, Bruce Thomas, then came in and stood next to his friends, after which they all went to play pool.

At 12:21 a.m. on Oct. 12, the complaint says, Detective Honick grabbed the bartender by the back of his head and said he and the others were police officers and there was going to be trouble with the Pagans. He told the bartender that the Pagans were staring and pointing at the officers, but the complaint says the bartender said he didn't see any such behavior.

Detective Martin went to the pool room and talked to some of Mr. Heitzenrater's friends, then walked back to the police and raised his arms as if showing off his strength. Detective Martin and several other officers briefly returned to the pool area to talk to the Pagans some more, then went back to the bar.

At 12:31, two of the Pagans left the bar and waved to the officers, at least one of whom waved back, the complaint says.

A few minutes later Mr. DeLuca and Mr. Zokaites walked outside so that Mr. DeLuca could talk on his cell phone. When they came back into the bar, according to the complaint, Detective Honick turned towards them and stared at them.

At 12:36 a.m., tension mounted when Detective Honick lifted his shirt to show a gun his waistband, the complaint says. Nearby, Detective Burgunder also placed a gun in his waistband after receiving a clip from Detective Lincoln.

The complaint says Detective Lincoln, meanwhile, tried to calm Detective Honick, and shook Mr. DeLuca's hand. Mr. DeLuca also shook Detective Honick's hand, but the detective began arguing with the biker while handling the gun, according to the complaint.

The situation then escalated, with Detective Martin now yelling at the bikers as well. At 12:40, Mr. DeLuca pushed Detective Honick, and a melee erupted. Uniformed officers who had arrived a few moment earlier tried to pull Detective Honick away but didn't obey them and attacked Mr. DeLuca, the complaint alleges.

Mr. Zokaites tried to help his friend but was struck with a Taser and fell to the ground, where according to the complaint Detective Martin began punching him. Detective Martin also threw Mr. Thomas into some bar stools as the fighting progressed.

Mr. Heitzenrater said that Detective Honick approached him during the brawl and raised his fist as if to hit him, but Mr. Heitzenrater said he put his hands up to show he had a splint on his left hand and didn't want to fight.

At that point, according to the complaint, Detective Honick turned away to punch Mr. DeLuca. But Detective Martin then swore at Mr. Heitzenrater and punched him twice in the head, knocking him down. As he lay on the ground, he said Detective Martin taunted him and claiming that Mr. Heitzenrater had grabbed him.

Video of the incident shows no grab, according to the complaint.

After the fight, Mr. Heitzenrater and his friends were arrested on assault charges and jailed. The Allegheny County district attorney's later dropped those charges.

The FBI and U.S. attorney's office are examining the case for possible civil rights violations against the police.

Bandidos MC: Ex member testifies against club

Houston, TX (November 26, 2018) BTN — A high-ranking member of the Bandidos motorcycle club turned government witness was rewarded Monday with a relatively light sentence by a Houston federal court. William Gerald “Big G” Ojemann, of Houston, was handed a two-year prison sentence for drug possession after dishing on the inner workings of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club and the bosses behind it.

Police displaying confiscated Bandidos MC Club property 

During a lengthy racketeering trial earlier this year in San Antonio, Ojemann testified that he and other club members carried out orders from former Bandidos President Jeffrey Fay Pike and his second-in-command, John Xavier Portillo. Those orders, according to Ojemann, included violent assaults and intimidation of rivals and fellow Bandidos.

Ojemann testified in April that Pike tasked him and another national member with finding and beating the Costa Rica chapter leader for not supporting his bid to cast off the Europe and Australia groups. The attack never happened because John “Galveston John” Lammins, president of a chapter in Costa Rica, was tipped off and was a no-show, he testified.

During Ojemann’s five years as a Bandidos club member, from 2008 until 2013, he rose to the rank of national sergeant-at-arms. He testified that Pike eventually gave him the boot but allowed him to remain in “good standing.”

A majority of the documents detailing Ojemann’s sentencing were sealed last week. Court records filed Monday show federal Judge Vanessa D. Gilmore signed off on dismissing two more counts of drug possession and a single count of firearm possession for a drug trafficking crime against Ojemann. It was then recommended that Ojemann be incarcerated at the Bastrop prison or another federal facility close to Houston.

As part of his punishment, Ojemann is required to undergo a mental health treatment program.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Hells Angels colors not cool with Salvation Army

Valparaiso, IN  (November 25, 2018) BTN —  Controversial “Aryan” patches worn by bell-ringing volunteers in Valparaiso do not match Salvation Army values, officials from the charity said Sunday.

Two days after images of bell ringers sporting controversial patches on leather jackets outside the Valparaiso Walmart went viral on social media, the Salvation Army released a statement on the matter.

Hells Angels members volunteering outside a Valparaiso, Indiana Walmart

Lt. Christopher Nicolai, of The Salvation Army of Porter County, said in a written statement Sunday that the bell ringers in question, members of a local Hells Angels motorcycle club, violated the charitable organization's dress code and would not be allowed to do bell ringing in the future.

"Our commitment to nondiscrimination includes a dress code for bell ringers, requiring that they wear red Salvation Army aprons, and making it clear that no "symbol, marking or lettering that is viewed as discrimination" may be worn, Nicolai said in the statement. "Clearly, the bell ringers in question did not comply with this dress code. They will not be allowed to volunteer in the future. We are embarrassed that we were unable to prevent this incident, and apologize to all who were offended, as were we."

Images shared on Facebook and with The Times show men with leather jackets, one with a patch reading "Aryan" and another with a Confederate flag patch ringing the bell Friday for the Salvation Army.

The bell ringers in question were confirmed to be members of the Hells Angels Northwest Indiana Region Motorcycle Club.

They confirmed through a Facebook post Sunday that the Salvation Army had canceled another bell-ringing event the club had scheduled.

"Due to all the negative comments about our holiday charity work. The Salvation Army was forced to cancel our upcoming bell ringing date in December. We hope all that responded negatively, will donate their time ringing the bell for the Salvation Army," the post stated.

On Friday, the motorcycle club responded to the criticism and attempted to explain the controversial patches.

"Our worldwide multinational, multiracial motorcycle club excepts motorcyclists from all walks of life," a representative for the motorcycle club said.

The representative said some members may wear "heritage-based" patches, such as Latinos wearing "LATINO," Japanese wearing "BUSHIDO" and whites wearing "ARYAN." He also said most members do not sport these types of patches.

"That's not what our clubs is about," the representative said. "However like all Americans, we love exercising our freedom. Sometimes freedom means you see and hear things you may not like. We accept that. The focus of today has nothing to do with freedom though. It has to do with charity and sacrificing for you community.

"I'd suggest to those making negative comments that maybe a little less time should be spent exercising your freedom of speech and a little more be spent to making a positive difference in our society."

The Hells Angels Northwest Indiana Region advertised their plans to bell ring on their Facebook page Friday morning. The post, including a graphic depicting the well-known red Salvation Army bucket and logos, shared that Hells Angels members would be collecting donations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at the Valparaiso Walmart.

On Saturday, the Hells Angels posted again — this time including their own photos of members dressed in vests with patches and Santa hats next to the Salvation Army's "Doing the Most Good" sign and buckets. One appeared to be sporting the "Aryan" patch that attracted attention in the original Facebook post that went viral.

"Thank you Valparaiso for showing your support for our less fortunate neighbors," the Hells Angels NWI Region Facebook post read. "You helped us fill 6 buckets fulla cash! Big thanks to the Salvation Army for the opportunity to help our community."

The original Facebook post was shared more than 10,000 times before being taken down.

The woman who made the original post on Facebook said the photos were taken by her mother.

The poster, whose name is being withheld, said her mother notified a Walmart manager about the men and their vests. The manager asked the men to remove the vests, and they refused.

The poster said she received several threats regarding her post.

“People thought I was going after the Hells Angels," the poster told The Times. "No, the Hells Angels does a lot of good and commendable things. … I have friends that are bikers, and I love them dearly. It’s not that I have anything against bikers.”

Friday, November 23, 2018

Bandidos MC Members stopped by roadblocks

Melbourne, AU  (November 23, 2018) BTN —  Bandidos motorcycle club members from across the country have converged on Melbourne for the club's national run. A club insider said up to 500 bikes will roar through the city as part of the annual run, which left Bendigo on Friday morning for an all weekend party in Melbourne's south-east.

 Bandidos MC members set off to Melbourne

One associate described the run as the club's very own Christmas party. "This is what we do. It's the brotherhood," he said. The run, which involves the club's major figureheads including president Jason Addison, is being closely monitored by police.

"[We] will take swift action to detect and disrupt any outlaw motorcycle gang (OMCGs) members who commit crimes, road safety or public order offences," a Victoria police spokeswoman said.

Bandidos MC members leaving a service station on the Calder Freeway on Friday

"We are always gathering intelligence with regards to the activities of persons engaged in criminal activity, including those persons who may also be associated with OMCGs. "Our monitoring of OMCGs permits us to respond in an appropriate fashion if and when any risk of violence is anticipated.

The club, which was formed in the US, established itself in Australia in 1983 after a group split from another club, the Comancheros. That split lead to the notorious Milperra massacre, where the two clubs clashed in a shootout that left seven people dead, including a 14-year-old girl, the Bandidos' vice-president, the Comancheros' vice-president and serjeant-at-arms.

While a Bandidos associate said the wider community has a misconception that the club is made up of criminals, authorities say they are a well-organised gang that causes harm across the country.