As this is being written, the trial of Devils Diciples National President Jeff Garvin “Fat Dog” Smith, National Vice-President Paul “Pauli” Darrah and alleged National Warlord Cary “Gun Control” Vandiver is entering its 117th day. The men were indicted 30 months ago. The grand jury that indicted them was convened 17 months before that. The case really began in April 2009 when 18 people connected in one way or another to the Devils Diciples were arrested.
There is no accounting of how much all of this has cost so far. None.
There is never any accounting of how much these big biker show trials cost. Obviously there is overhead for the physical spaces in which cases like this are planned and adjudicated. Evidence must be catalogued and stored. Photocopying probably costs a fortune. There are direct and indirect investigative costs and investigators usually agree that the biggest part of that is the cost of electronic surveillance. The accused have to be apprehended and locked up. Everybody in the courtroom – judges, court reporters, Marshalls, bailiffs, prosecutors, defenders, paralegals, cops, experts and investigators – has to be paid. The people who clean the court have to be paid. The guy who runs the metal detector at the front door has to be paid. The case is probably worth something more than $100,000 to each lawyer for trial costs alone so far. Year by year, the cost of the case has added up. The combined value of the Devils Diciples prosecution to the American economy now probably amounts to nine figures. That’s enough to give 10,000 families $10,000 each.
The government is trying to prove that over a decade the Devils Diciples behaved as if they were contemptuous of many laws, rules and regulations and followed a code of behavior they shared with other motorcycle clubs. An Assistant United States Attorney named Eric Strauss has tried to give jurors an inside look into “the world of outlaw bikers;” just as Jay Dobyns, Kerrie Droban, Billy Queen, Charles Falco, Jason Hervey and Kurt Sutter have tried to give potential jurors an inside look.
Presuming the jurors in this case have been convinced by Strauss’ evidence, the panel has learned that some “outlaw bikers” like to play slot machines. Members of the club owned 15 slot machines and that was illegal because none of those outlaw bikers owned an Indian casino.
Many outlaw bikers enjoy or may be addicted to methamphetamine – as President John Fitzgerald Kennedy reportedly enjoyed and was addicted to methamphetamine. Sometimes outlaw bikers make the drug in small batches. Sometimes they consume some of what they make, give some away and sell some.
Straus alleges that at one point one Devils Diciple possessed fifty pounds of marijuana, as Cheech Marin once aspired to posessess fifty pounds of marijuana. Marijuana is now completely legal for recreational use in four of the United States and is legal to possess with the pro forma permission of a physician in 19 additional states and the District of Columbia. Prosecutors allege that another Devils Disicple perjured himself in that marijuana case. Strauss discounts the possibility that that club member simply lost his train of thought, became confused and mis-spoke.
Apparently, outlaw bikers can be dangerous. One member of the club “sucker punched” a man in a New York City bar, broke his jaw and knocked him out because he was wearing a patch for a band called the Black Label Society on the back of his leather jacket. The band’s logo intentionally mimics a motorcycle club patch. Another club member wrote the words “Snitches are a dying breed.”
Strauss also accuses the Devils Diciples of being institutionally sexist. Although one of the accusations against Smith is that he ordered the 2003 beating of five club members who had raped the wife of a Hells Angel.
The jury may begin deliberations as soon as today.