The Lakeport, California trial of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club resumed last week.
Technically, only three members of the club named Timothy R. Bianchi, Nicholas F. Carrillo and Josh L. Johnson are on trial. They are accused of beating a Vago named Michael Anthony Burns in Lakeport in June 2011. Burns has maintained since the event that he sustained his facial injuries in a fall.
But Art Grothe, the minor league politician who has pursued the case is prosecuting the three defendants for felony aggravated assault because that is the only way he can also subject the men to what lawyers call a “186.22 Prosecution.” That is the section of the California penal code that makes it a crime both “to actively participate in any criminal street gang with knowledge that its members engage or have engaged in a pattern of criminal activity” and mandates a prison sentence for anyone who “commits a felony for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with any criminal street gang, with the specific intent to promote, further, or assist in any criminal conduct by gang members.”
Grothe’s theory is that motorcycle club are criminal street gangs and that Burns was beaten because he was a Vago and the Vagos and the Hells Angels compete in the business of being criminals. Apparently, Grothe thinks he can convince a jury that that the three defendants beat Burns because there just isn’t enough crime in Lakeport for the two “criminal street gangs” to share. Also when you use the “power words” “outlaw motorcycle gangs” and “biker gangs” and “criminal enterprise” and so on you can draw more attention to yourself than when you use words like “fist fight” or “beating” or “assault.”
Passion For Narcotics
Grothe’s cynical ally in this trial is “recognized outlaw motorcycle gang” authority Jorge Gil-Blanco, who is the very happy man in the photo above from 2011. Gil-Blanco has previously testified against members of the Vagos, Misfits, Soul Brothers and Hells Angels Motorcycle Clubs including a prosecution of the late Mark Guardado. He testified for three days last week and his testimony included the claim that he has been investigating the Hells Angels since 1980.
Some versions of his actual resume, and there are many versions, downplay that.
“I started my career as a police officer in January of 1973 with the Los Angeles Police Department,” Gil-Blanco states in one version of Jorge Gil-Blanco: The Man, The Myth, The Biker Expert. “After a year and half, I moved to the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department where I first started working Narcotics in 1975. Since then, (sic) my passion to work in the Narcotics field was ignited. During my career with the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department, I worked as a Narcotics Investigator, Patrol Deputy, Custody Deputy, and Court Security Deputy. After 4 years with the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department I moved to the San Jose Police Department where I spent over 26 years, retiring in July 2004. During my career at the San Jose Police Department, I worked as a Patrol Officer, Training Officer/Instructor, FTO, Academy Instructor, Narcotic Investigator (SJPD & DEA Task Force), Criminal Intelligence Officer, Burglary Prevention Investigator, Parks Patrol Officer, and Personnel Officer (Background Investigator/Recruiter). After two months of retirement, I realized that I still had work to do, so I went to work for the Dixon Police Department where I was a Narcotics Investigator for one year, assigned to the Solano Narcotics Enforcement Team (SOLNET). I was then recruited to work for the Western States Information Network (WSIN), where I am currently employed as the Training Coordinator.”
No Patch, Card
Last week Gil-Blanco sparred with a defense attorney named Jai Gohel who has cross examined the biker expert in other cases. Gohel made much of Gil-Blanco lack of formal training. Apparently Harvard does not yet offer a degree in outlaw bikers. Gil-Blanco has only an Associates Degree in photography from Santa Monica College. The implication was that the expert’s knowledge is based on cop gossip and there is a legal technicality called the Harvey-Madden-Remers Rule that actually makes cop gossip, unsubstantiated by objective fact, inadmissible as evidence.
At one point, Gohel asked Gil-Blanco what a Hells Angels membership card looks like and the expert said he couldn’t remember. A more pertinent question might have been to ask Gil-Blanco how much he was getting paid for his testimony.