This obituary was published on January 15, 2016 and was corrected on January 16. The original obituary identified Bob Vieira as a member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club when he died. The Aging Rebel has since been informed that Vieira was no longer a member of the club when he died. This obituary has been corrected to reflect that change in status and to explain how it came about.
Robert “Bob” Vieira, a long time member of the San Jose charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, died peacefully of liver and kidney failure on New Year’s Eve.
Vieira lived almost his entire life in San Jose and owned Central Towing on Monterey Highway. For many years, he held the title on the San Jose Hells Angels’ clubhouse.
He was briefly famous after the late Hells Angel Steve Tausan was accused in August 1997 of beating a man to death with one punch at a stripper bar called the Pink Poodle. Police theorized that Tausan was part of a conspiracy to beat the unruly customer, a man named Kevin Sullivan, for insulting the motorcycle club.
Police subsequently launched a series of punitive raids, under the guise of serving search warrants, against members of the San Jose charter. The warrants were based on an affidavit written by a Sheriff’s deputy Robert Linderman and, then, San Jose policeman Jorge Gil-Blanco. The two told a judge that the searches would look for written proof that the San Jose charter had planned to murder Sullivan and that it was a “criminal street gang.” Police raided nine homes and seized mementoes and insignia that proved what the police already knew – that the occupants were members of the Hells Angels. As is common with these notorious indicia searches, first thing the cops killed the Vieira’s two dogs.
Vieira later told Dan Simon of CNN, “If a dog is locked in the yard and that’s where he belongs, I don’t think anybody has a right to kill them. And as far as I’m concerned, it was just target practice for them.”
Lori Vieira told Simon, “Boom, boom, boom. I woke up. Said, ‘Bob!’ and I heard it again. And I said, ‘oh my God, oh, my God!’
The Vieira’s and other victims of the raids settled lawsuits against the police in 1998. The settlements amounted to $1.8 million.
After that, the police largely left the Vieiras’ alone.
Bob Vieira’s tragic moment came during a brawl between members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club and members of the San Jose charter at a Sparks, Nevada casino in September 2011. Charter president Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew was killed during the brawl. By most accounts the brawl was instigated by a Vago named Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick who was then expelled from his club and who became the principal witness against Vago Ernesto Gonzalez, who was accused of Pettigrew’s murder.
The hotel, John Ascuaga’s Nugget Hotel and Casino, was the official residence for most Vagos who attended a biker event in Reno that year. The only Hells Angels in the casino were members of the San Jose charter. Vieira made the reservation.
According to his own account Vieira, who was 72 at the time, was knocked unconscious by a blow to the head with a bottle during the fight.
Ironically, Tausan was shot and killed at Pettigrew’s funeral by a then member of the club named Steve Ruiz. Ruiz was later punished with three years in prison for the murder. At that funeral, members of the San Jose charter publically blamed Vieira for the tragedy in Sparks.
Vieira was also interviewed by Reno police. He told them that there was no feud between Vagos and Hells Angels in San Jose and that the fight had been instigated by Rudnick. A tape recording of the interview was introduced into evidence during Gonzalez’ trial.
After Pettigrew’s funeral, Vieira relinquished title to the clubhouse, turned in his insignia and left the club. According to multiple informed sources, his club status at the time of his death was out in bad standing, no contact.
Robert “Bob” Vieira was 76-years-old when he died. He died with his wife by his side.
Requiscat In Pace