The government’s case against the Mongols Motorcycle Club has reached the point where these things usually start to fall apart.
Four and a half months after an 86 count, 177 page indictment was unsealed the government is still withholding evidence from the defense. So far the government has allowed defense attorneys to see “4000 pages of documents and 400 instances of electronic surveillance.”
As Spring approaches the government still refuses to make public the reports of the eight, uncover, government agents who built the case against former Mongols’ President Ruben “Doc” Cavazos and 78 of his associates, relatives and friends. The government also continues to keep secret, according to public documents, “CD-ROMs containing recordings of intercepted telephone calls.”
Reports Still Secret
In previous cases against motorcycle clubs investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) the government has refused to release reports filed by its investigators because inconsistencies in the sum of the evidence would damage the credibility of the uncover agents. The ATF has bragged that four of its agents became patched members of the Mongols. The ATF has not bragged about any laws its agents may have broken during the investigation.
While the government stalls, virtually all of the men arrested in the case remain behind bars.
In the last week, the government has resorted to using the power of the press to juice up its case. Rod Leveque, a staff writer for the Whittier California Daily News has written, “Some members of the Mongols motorcycle gang intend to plead guilty to federal charges related to their participation in the violent, outlaw organization…. prosecutors say those who admit their guilt will also cooperate in the prosecution of fellow gang members, putting themselves and their families at risk for violent retaliation and murder.”
The Daily News report sounds a phone conversation with the government. And, it is almost true. So far, 1323 documents been filed in the case and one plea agreement has been reached. That plea was filed January 22 and entered January 28. The deal has never been made public.
Given the ordinariness of most of the charges in this case, the January 22nd plea deal could be as simple as a guilty plea to that old ATF standby, “felon is possession of a firearm.”
The government appears to be trying to gain some public relations traction out of a series of papers filed in the last week. Last Wednesday, the most aggressive of the four government attorneys prosecuting this case, Reema M. El-Amamy, entered what is called an ex parte motion “allowing the government to file all plea agreements and sentencing position papers under seal.”
An ex parte motion is a request to grant a one sided rule, made at the request of one side only, without notice to or argument by any defendant who would be adversely affected by it.
The government dramatized its motion by arguing:
“Based on conversations with defense counsel, it appears that some defendants intend to plead guilty pursuant to plea agreements. The government expects that defendants who wish to plead guilty to the charges against them and/or enter their pleas as part of a cooperation plea agreement may be subject to violent retaliation. The retaliation would be directed at the defendant and/or the defendant’s family and would be executed either within the detention facilities or by members of the Mongols Gang or gang members or associates that remain on the streets.”
The key words in this motion are, “it appears.”
So, for the record, the actual news in this story is that it appears no one has flipped yet.