Citing a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals precedent titled US v. Black that had been reiterated in a separate ruling filed December 4, two federal judges in Nevada ruled last Friday that the conduct of a full time Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy and part time snitch for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives named Agostino Brancato was not “so grossly shocking and so outrageous as to violate the universal sense of justice.”
Attorneys for two Vagos named Jeremy “Maniak” Halgat and Anthony “Uncle Tony” McCall had sought to have the indictments against their clients dismissed. The attorneys alleged that Brancato lied and fabricated evidence in order contrive cases against the two men. In what was an obvious fishing expedition, Brancato spent more than a year hanging around and patching into the Vagos. Brancato tried numerous times to induce the men into participating in a criminal conspiracy.
During one of those attempts to entice his victims Halgat told Brancato, “I can’t…I can’t fucking, I can’t help.” Eventually in that conversation, Halgat reluctantly agreed to introduce Brancato to a small time drug dealer named Udell Wickham, Halgat said, “the only thing I can contribute is, hey this is my home boy, I trust him. This is my home boy, I trust him, whatever you do, and if it fucks up….”
The men are also accused of providing “security” for a bogus, multi-kilo cocaine transaction at an airstrip near Searchlight Nevada in November 2012.
The cases against the two men and the defense motion for dismissal eventually led to a three day evidentiary hearing at the beginning of November 2014.
Halgat and McCall argued that, “rather than infiltrating an existing drug conspiracy or criminal organization engaged in ongoing criminal activity, the government created, invented, and imagined up crimes for these defendants to be induced and
entrapped into committing for the purpose of charging members of … Vagos … with drug and gun crimes.”
In their ruling denying a dismissal of the case, the two judges, the honarables Andrew Gordon and Jennifer Dorsey, cited instances where Halgat had bragged to Brancato about previously smuggling marijuana across the border from Mexico. The judges also cited instances where Halagat bought small amounts of cocaine which he then shared with his club brothers. The judges also cited admissions to Brancato by McCall that McCall, a convicted felon, owned firearms. Additionally, McCall sold small amounts of anabolic steroids to Brncato.
About the evidentiary hearing Judge Gordon wrote:
“The parties played and re-played audio recordings of the key undercover conversations, evaluated them against the competing transcriptions of the same events, and showed the video recordings of the planning meetings between the TFO (Brancato) and the defendants for the airstrip transaction and a four-camera video recording of the operation itself. TFO Brancato testified for the bulk of those three days, offering his eyewitness account of the events and explaining his actions, reports, and statements in response to questions by defense counsel, the government, and the bench. Having fully considered the evidence presented at the three-day evidentiary hearing, the parties’ extensive briefing, and the totality of the circumstances in light of United States v. Black, I find that the government’s conduct does not reach the ‘extremely high standard’ necessary to dismiss this indictment for outrageous government conduct, I find no reason to exercise my supervisory powers to dismiss the indictment, and I deny the motions to dismiss.”
Trial dates for the two men are pending.