The long delayed trial of three Hells Angels named Timothy R. Bianchi, Nicholas F. Carrillo and Josh L. Johnson for misdemeanor charges of battery and fighting in public began last week. The fight happened at a tattoo convention at the Konocti Vista Resort and Casino in Lakeport, California in June 2011. Lakeport is about 120 miles north of San Francisco. What the men are really being charged with is being Hells Angels who fought in public and that is a felony.
The alleged victim was a Vago named Michael Anthony Burns. Burns reportedly suffered bleeding about the head and face, swelling and a cut under his right eye, He told police he suffered the injuries in a fall. The police refused to believe him, “reviewed footage from the resort’s security surveillance system” and eventually charged the three Hells Angels with the misdemeanors. The FBI interjected itself into the case. The accused men were eventually charged with a felony, assault with a deadly weapon, and that made it possible to also charge them with a “gang enhancement.”
From a distance this looks like a Kangaroo Court. Burns testified last Thursday. Lake County Deputy District Attorney Art Grothe tried to put words in his mouth. Carrillo’s attorney, Michael Clough, objected to that. The judge who finally agreed to try this case, Michael Lunas, threatened Clough with contempt and then announced he intended to let self-proclaimed “Hells Angels authority” Jorge Gil-Blanco testify at this trial.
Gil-Blanco (above) is a strange and frequent witness at biker trials in California. He is a former employee of the San Jose Police Department, the Los Angeles Police Department and the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department who seems to have learned about motorcycle clubs by reading the screeds of Yves Lavigne. He is not academically accomplished. He has an Associates Degree from Santa Monica College. He has not published any books or articles about the Hells Angels or about motorcycle clubs in general.
He advertises himself as a “Training Coordinator” and “Outlaw Motorcycle Gang and Expert Testimony Instructor” for a Hayward, California company called Strategic Training Systems International. And in the condensed and obtuse style of modern resumes he describes his job as: “plans and coordinates all necessary functions required for the establishment, maintenance, and improvement of a viable Part I crimes and narcotics enforcement intelligence information system within Western States Information Network’s California Region V. He lectures extensively on the topic of Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs, and provides expert testimony for the prosecution of Hells Angels.”
The Western States Information Network is a domestic espionage clearinghouse that spent about $8 million in 2007, the last year for which budget figures are available, “to provide the most secure, accurate, and timely criminal intelligence and assistance to its member agencies to enhance the investigation, arrest, prosecution, and conviction of criminal offenders.”
Gil-Blanco has previously testified that the Hells Angels colors are red and white, that members start as hang arounds and eventually become patched, that a “Filthy Few” patch means an Angel has “committed an act of violence for the club,” that the ball-peen hammer is “one of their favorite choices of weapons,” and that “you don’t become a Hells Angel unless you’re willing to get involved with criminal activity.”
In his opening statement last week, Grothe told jurors, “I intend to show that when the individuals did what we allege they did, it was in benefit of and in furtherance of a criminal street gang, that is the Hell’s Angels.” Gil-Blanco’s job will be to convince jurors the prosecutor’s statement is true.
The three defense attorneys in the case all objected to the admission of testimony by Gil-Blanco. The motions describe the biker expert as a man who has spent his “professional life prosecuting criminals and ‘gang’ members rather than dispassionately researching the groups they are employed to prove are, in fact, ‘gangs.’”
Having begun, the trial will now adjourn until December 10. Gil-Blanco is scheduled to testify on December 17 and 18.