Four members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club pled guilty to a charges of second degree battery earlier this week in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
Robert Thomas Reynolds, 39, Jason David Gallo, 37, Eric Claudio Franco, 34 and Derek Jeffrey Roy, 23, were punished with five-year suspended sentences and $4,400 in court costs, fines and DNA detection fees. Under terms of the negotiated plea, the four men will pay the court $100 a month for 44 months. The defendants have also all incurred legal fees of at least $25,000 each.
A fifth Hells Angel charged in the case, Christopher Sweeney, 38, is expected to make an identical plea and receive an identical punishment in a hearing scheduled for October 12th. Sweeney is currently incarcerated at a Federal lockup in Lake Placid, New York on a weapons charge. Charges against a sixth man Manny R. Monteiro, 35, were dismissed. Monteiro now resides in Portugal.
2007 USA Run
All six men were charged with beating and stabbing four members of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club in the parking lot of an antiques store in Eureka Springs on the afternoon of July 29, 2007 at the conclusion of the Hells Angels 2007 USA Run. The injured Bandidos were Isidro Savala Zerrata Jr., 49, Keith Miller, 60, David Wood, 38, and Thomas Goodnight. All four men lived in Texas.
About 300 members of the hells Angels were in Eureka Springs that weekend. The Angels were under near-constant surveillance by dozens of local and state police as well as undercover and uniformed members of the United States Secret Service; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the United States Marshals Service; and the Drug Enforcement Administration.
According to all published accounts, the Hells Angels were cheerful, cooperative and law-abiding throughout the weekend. Most of the vacationers had already left town when the incident with the Bandidos occurred.
The victims and two other Bandidos were in town visiting another member of the club. According to a statement issued by local police at the time of the arrests, the six Bandidos were leaving a local home when they met three of the defendants on motorcycles. The Hells Angels waved and the Bandidos pulled into the parking lot because they thought the defendants wanted to talk.
Two of the six Bandidos rode out of the lot when they noticed a red pickup truck attempting to block the driveway. The two Bandidos who escaped told police they had witnessed the attack begin. When those two returned with weapons the attack was over, the four victims were on the ground and their assailants were gone.
An off-duty Eureka Springs cop named Shelley Summers also claimed to have witnessed the incident.
The Bandidos have a chapter in Little Rock. The Sons of Silence Motorcycle Club and the Silent Few Motorcycle Club also have chapters in Arkansas.
According to a public statement before the event made by a Eureka Springs Police Detective named Morris Pate the Hells Angel’s run coordinator had spoken with “Bandidos headquarters in Little Rock” and been assured that there would be no friction during the weekend because “the Hells Angels are coming to vacation, not to try and take over territory.”
Things Fall Apart
After the arrests, almost everything Pate said before, during and after the run was called into question. Pate was prohibited from testifying after the defense alleged that he had engaged in “inappropriate investigative protocols.”
One of the victims was murdered in Odessa, Texas before the case could go to trial. The other three victims refused to cooperate with police. One of the two Bandidos who escaped the attack also refused to cooperate with authorities. Bandido Robert Thuston, the other man who escaped was reported to have been cooperating with police but he was unable to testify after he died in a motorcycle accident.
United States, Prosecutor Tony Rogers said in a prepared statement that the plea deal was “best possible outcome for the citizens of Carroll County (Arkansas).”