People who don’t know how the justice casino really works just assume the sordid process of criminal accusation is simply followed by conviction or exoneration in some reasonable time – like say the lifetime of a gerbil. It doesn’t work that way for multiple reasons. The most obvious are that all the games in the justice casino are rigged in favor of the house and accusation is de facto punishment.
It doesn’t matter whether you are guilty or innocent of some crime that is generally understood by the squares to be a crime. Anybody can be accused of anything and the longer the accusation stands the greater the punishment. So, it doesn’t seem likely that a Vago named Jeremy Halgat will go on trial in one of the two, nearly identical federal prosecutions brought against him more than three years ago anytime soon. Ten days ago at status conference in the case titled USA v. Halgat et al., Halgat’s attorney, Melanie Hill, asked for the eleventh continuance in that case.
The other case against Halgat is titled USA v. Wickham et al. but Wickham hasn’t been part of it for two years. The trial in that case against Halgat was continued until September on April 19. That was the tenth continuance in that case.
Operation Pure Luck
If you are confused it is because the whole point is for the press and the general public to just throw all their hands up in the air and just not care so American justice can continue in secrecy.
The Halgat prosecutions began in 2009 with an attempt to infiltrate and entrap members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club in Las Vegas. The operation’s stage name was “Operation Pure Luck. It was announced as a great triumph of good over evil by United States Attorney Daniel Bogden in June 2013. At a press conference, Bogden accused 31 people who were associated in some way with five different motorcycle clubs, including the Vagos and Bandidos, in seven states, from Texas to Hawaii, of being gangsters. Fox News called Operation Pure Luck a “real life Sons of Anarchy bust” and a “huge success.”
“We’ve had a lot of different incidents where these outlaw motorcycle gangs have wreaked havoc in our neighborhoods,” Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Sheriff Greg McCurdy lied to the assembled press. “So when this opportunity presented itself we decided to move forward.”
Actually, Operation Pure Luck was a miserable failure. After four years and millions of dollars, all the federal and state police forces involved in the investigation had discovered virtually no evidence of major crimes committed by motorcycle club members: Possibly because the premise on which the investigation was based, that motorcycle clubs are the mafia on wheels, is stupid. The undercover investigator in the case was a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy named Agostino Brancato who had been temporarily assigned to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Brancato had patched into the Vagos in hopes of getting something on the club. His work was, at best, unprofessional.
Two years ago a federal magistrate named Cam Ferenbach thought Brancato had acted so outrageously that the charges against Halgat should be dismissed. Fernbach ruled that there was “no doubt” that Brancato had “falsified” evidence in the case. “This is distressing,” the judge said. “Can the court rely on the chain of custody of evidence that the government will proffer against Halgat at trial? Did Brancato’s supervisors permit other falsifications?”
But in January 2015, the two federal judges presiding over Halgat’s two, nearly identical cases, ruled that Brancato and the ATF had not engaged in “outrageous conduct,” so the twin prosecutions could continue.
They haven’t though, because the prosecution has been unwilling to disclose other evidence about the case. That fight over disclosure has continued for the last eighteen months. The case hasn’t gone away. It hasn’t been resolved. Like so many, iffy, federal cases it has just gone into hibernation.
Because that is how American justice works.