Monthly Archives: December 2018

Every Mongols MC Member Found Guilty in Patch Seizure RICO Case

By David “Double D” Devereaux

For the first time in history, in its latest bid to seize the Mongols Motorcycle Club’s logos and collective membership marks, the federal government has successfully indicted every single full-patched member of a motorcycle club on felony RICO racketeering and conspiracy charges regardless of personal guilt.

So, what happens next? What does this verdict mean for the Mongols MC, other motorcycle clubs in America, and the First Amendment to the US Constitution? There are definitely more questions than answers. But one thing is certain. The fight to Save The Patch is far from over. Now, more than ever, motorcycle clubs have a critical issue to mobilize around in order to preserve and insure the survival of a lifestyle and a culture.

Mongols Nation found guilty.

On December 13th, 2018, the Mongols Nation, defined as all full-patched members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club, was found guilty by a federal district court jury in Southern California under the federal RICO Act of racketeering and conspiring to engage in racketeering, for conducting and participating in the criminal enterprise called the Mongols Gang. The Mongols Gang is defined by the federal government as all patched members, prospects, and associates of the club. The federal government argued that, since 2002, the Mongols Gang has committed crimes ranging from drug dealing to murder at the direction and benefit of the Mongols Nation.

No one goes to jail?

Despite a verdict of guilt, no one will be incarcerated as a result. The crimes cited are historical and, in many cases, resolved. The goal here is different. The government maintains that the club’s insignia and patches are an element of the criminal enterprise and a tool of intimidation. If the government gets its way during the sentencing phase, prosecutors argue they will literally be able to take the colors off a Mongol’s back.

The implications for the motorcycle club community at large are obvious. The federal government’s forfeiture strategy could ultimately be applied to other clubs in an attempt to crush the symbolism that defines association in motorcycle clubs. And completely independent of forfeiture, the idea that an entire motorcycle club can be defined as a criminal enterprise regardless of personal guilt also lays the foundation for other severe sentencing options such as excessive fines and asset forfeiture.

Personal guilt and the 1st Amendment.

Beyond immediate impacts to the Mongols MC, the US Attorney’s theory of prosecution compromises important judicial principles such as the doctrine of personal guilt, guilt by association, and the fundamental concepts of First Amendment Association and Expression. Indeed, the prosecution’s theory obliterates long-standing constitutional principles.

To permit the government to impose restrictions on any person “who wears the insignia of [the Mongols], without regard to or knowledge of that individual’s specific intent to engage in the alleged violent activities committed by other members, is antithetical to the basic principles enshrined in the First Amendment and repugnant to the fundamental doctrine of personal guilt that is a hallmark of American jurisprudence.” 1

Unanswered Questions.

Independent of collective membership mark issues, and even though no one is going to jail as a result this verdict, what are the potential implications of the Mongols Nation- meaning every member of the Mongols MC- being found guilty of two felony RICO counts? No individual person is specifically named in the indictment. But every member they want to seize property from must be an indicted individual in order to avoid the same judgement that gave the Mongols back their property initially.

Does this mean that every member of the club now has a felony record? Does this mean that members can be denied rights like voting and legal possession of a firearm? Does this mean that the Mongols MC has no 1st Amendment right to associate with one another because all patched members, the Mongols Nation, have been found to all be engaged in a criminal enterprise?

These questions, at least to the MPP, remain unanswered. So much focus has, understandably, been placed on the patch forfeiture issue that many of these questions haven’t yet been considered by those discussing and writing about this case.

The potential impacts are vast. Australia has no 1st Amendment so banning motorcycle club associations does not face the same obstacles as in America. The prosecution’s strategy in this case is, the MPP believes, the government’s most recent blueprint for circumventing the 1st Amendment and crushing motorcycle clubs in America.

What happens now?

The US v. Mongols Nation Trial, despite a guilty verdict, is still a long way from being over. After the first of the year, the jury will reconvene, enter the sentencing phase, and decide whether they agree with the government’s forfeiture requests. And even if the jury grants forfeiture, Judge Carter must then adjudicate the extensive legal and constitutional objections to forfeiture.

Fortunately, even if unsuccessful in every phase of this federal district court trial, the Mongols MC can appeal the decision as they previously did when they lost their patch in district court before overturned on appeal. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee what will happen in the interim if the Mongols marks are seized. If history repeats itself, the Mongols MC will be targeted, harassed, and have property and colors seized by authorities.

Make no mistake. This is NOT just about the Mongols MC. In a very real way, the motorcycle club lifestyle is under heavy attack and survival is not assured. This verdict demonstrates that reality. So, the community must not only continue to fight the good fight- the community must win.

Citations

1see Coles v. Carlini 162 F.Supp.3d 380 (2015)

The post Every Mongols MC Member Found Guilty in Patch Seizure RICO Case appeared first on Motorcycle Profiling Project.

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Via:: Motorcycle Profiling Project

US Attorney’s Embarrassing Closing at Mongols MC Trial

By David “Double D” Devereaux

Closing arguments in the US v. Mongols Nation, the trial in which the US government is trying to assert control over the club’s Patch and other trademarks through forfeiture, occurred today (12/03/2018) and according to an anonymous source observing the trial, “the strategy is clear- motorcycle culture and traditions are on trial…Assistant US Attorney Steven Welk’s behavior is nothing less than tragic and embarrassing.”

The government’s goal in this case is to take a motorcycle club’s identity by giving law enforcement the legal right to force members to forfeit their colors and property bearing the Mongols MC marks. The jury now is deliberating on the guilt phase of the trial. Their decision could potentially impact the entire motorcycle club world and also limit the fundamental rights of freedom of expression and association for all Americans.

Welk’s Closing Argument

“US Attorney Welk’s entire argument is framed around the outright mocking of motorcycle culture,” says the trial observer.

“US Attorney Welk directly attacked former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, self- defense Laws, men that stand their ground instead of running like coward, and even the love and dedication women in the motorcycle world show their men.”

“It’s clear- motorcycle culture is on trial. If someone attacks you, the government wants you to retreat like a coward, and call the police. The government is trying to make it part of a crime if bikers don’t conform to their own set of morals and values,” says the trial observer.

“The US Attorney wants to dictate whether a biker ok lady should be allowed to wear a property vest, of her own free will. If not, the Department of Justice will try to make you pay, not only with criminal charges, but with the cruel and unusual punishment of having to listen to US Attorney Welk ramble on about it for hours, while laughing alone to his own jokes…and it’s an awkward, nerve-cringing laugh too. Oh God, please make him stop,” says the observer.

“Finally, at 3:37pm, after US Attorney Welk spent almost the entire day basking in the personal excitement of listening to his own whiny voice, in between his grunty, self- loving laughter (…everyone stood puzzled as to what could possibly be funny), the Department Of Justice finished their closing argument. The jury…sat up in their chairs, and seemed gleeful that the torture had ended.”

Defense Attorney Joseph Yanny’s Closing

According to the trial observer, Yanny’s closing set the burden of proof and gave an inspiring history on the founding fathers and power of the jury.

Yanny has previously conceded that some members had committed crimes, but said those men had been kicked out for violating rules against bringing trouble down on the the club. Yanny has also maintained that in some violent incidents Mongols simply acted in self-defense or in defense of others. 1

Who more effectively made their argument? Soon, the decision will be in the hands of the 12 people whos opinion matters the most in this phase of the case.

First Amendment Implications

Predictably the government’s argument is based around a stereotype crafted by making generalizations about motorcycle club culture based on the actions of the few. In this case, the actions of individuals that have long ago been prosecuted. In fact, if the jury brings back a verdict of guilty no one will go to jail. But they would lose their right to express their association to the Mongols MC. This violates the fundamental concepts of personal guilt and freedom of expression.

There is “no evidence that by merely wearing [1% motorcycle club] “colors,” an individual is “involved in or associated with the alleged violent or criminal activity of other [1% motorcycle club] members. It is a fundamental principle that the government may not impose restrictions on an individual “merely because an individual belong[s] to a group, some members of which committed acts of violence.” In fact, the Supreme Court has long “disapproved governmental action . . . denying rights and privileges solely because of a citizen’s association with an unpopular organization.” Healy v. James, 408 U.S. 169, 185-86 (1972).

To permit [law enforcement] to impose restrictions on any person “who wears the insignia of [a 1% club], without regard to or knowledge of that individual’s specific intent to engage in the alleged violent activities committed by other members, is antithetical to the basic principles enshrined in the First Amendment and repugnant to the fundamental doctrine of personal guilt that is a hallmark of American jurisprudence.” 2

Precedent

The outcome of this trial is likely a looking-glass into the future of the government’s one- sided war against motorcycle clubs. Australia, Europe, and Canada have all focused on various strategies to make motorcycle club membership illegal. The MPP believes that trademark forfeiture is American law enforcement’s attempt to achieve the same outcome. None of those countries have a 1st Amendment. If the government succeeds in this case, our fundamental understanding of the protections the 1st Amendment provides will be completely rewritten.

Of course, this case is in a district court. Precedent will not be created until the decision is ultimately appealed and decided by a higher court. Regardless, even success at the district court level will embolden the US Attorney’s office to employ this strategy against other motorcycle clubs and ultimately other organizations.

Sources

1courthousenews.com, Courthouse News Service, Feds Pull Out All the Stops Against Mongols Biker Gang, November 1, 2018

2see Coles v. Carlini 162 F.Supp.3d 380 (2015)

The post US Attorney’s Embarrassing Closing at Mongols MC Trial appeared first on Motorcycle Profiling Project.

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Via:: Motorcycle Profiling Project