Mooch’s Tale

March 28, 2017

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Mooch's Tale

Most readers here know who Justin James “Mooch” DeLoretto is – although you may not know his name.

His image has become a cliché that obscures the man. If you Google “Mongols Motorcycle Club” you will almost immediately see a photo – probably taken by Bruce Ely of the Oregonian – of the back of a young Mongol’s head. That is Mooch, in about 2008. At 35, he is still a target in the international war on motorcycle clubs.

DeLoretto was a member of the Vagos Motorcycle Club before he founded the Mongols in Oregon. The Mongols were new to the state in 2008 and many good citizens were alarmed to see their patch. An undercover ATF agent named Billy ‘Slow Brain” Queen had recently convinced the world that the Mongols were “America’s Most Violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.” And in April 2008 a couple of “outlaw motorcycle gang investigators” decided that DeLoretto was just the dragon they needed to slay so they could become heroes like Queen. Those would-be heroes were a Eugene police Detective named Dave Burroughs and an ATF agent named Jimmy Packard.

That led to what should have become an episode of Sons of Anarchy.

Rush Hour Confrontation

The Oregonian reported the episode like this:

“Eugene police arrested three members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club on Wednesday, accusing them of trying to run a pair of biker investigators off the road during a rush-hour confrontation on the freeway. The Mongols –  identified as Justin J. ‘Mooch’ DeLoretto, 26, Nathan A. Cassidy, 22, and Matthew A. Weiss, 24 – remained jailed Thursday in Eugene on felony charges.

“The incident began about 4:30 p.m. when Eugene police Detective Dave Burroughs and federal agent Jimmy Packard drove to a spot near Turner, south of Salem, to confirm DeLoretto’s address. Police described DeLoretto, president of Oregon’s Mongols, as a person of interest in a recent assault at a downtown Eugene music club. Packard, a regional expert on outlaw motorcycle gangs for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, steered his unmarked Ford Explorer down a dirt road as he and Burroughs searched for DeLoretto’s home. Suddenly they spotted their suspect behind the wheel of a Ford Ranger pickup, which was headed toward them. Packard backed out of the narrow lane and drove to Salem, where by chance he parked in front of the Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Club’s former clubhouse….”

“Ordinarily, Packard and Burroughs pursue bikers such as the Mongols. But on Wednesday, Herbert said, they found themselves being pursued. ‘A dangerous event,’ he said. DeLoretto tailed the investigators as they motored south on Interstate 5, talking on his cell phone, police said. By the time they reached the Eugene area, the investigators found themselves flanked by two other Mongols on the rain-slicked highway, police said. Burroughs radioed for backup. Weiss, driving a Nissan pickup just ahead of the investigators, suddenly swerved into the Explorer’s path, causing Packard to slam on his brakes and steer left to avoid a collision, Herbert said. The federal agent turned on his siren and Weiss slowed. When Packard tried to exit I-5 and drive west on Interstate 105 toward downtown Eugene, Cassidy mashed the accelerator of his Audi A4 and steered the car across two lanes of traffic in front of the investigators’ vehicle and braked hard, police allege. Packard slammed on his brakes again, turning on his emergency lights and siren. Weiss and Cassidy continued south on I-5 as the investigators headed toward downtown. Patrol cars soon swarmed DeLoretto’s pickup, and officers arrested him at a strip mall on Coburg Road.”

Mooch’s Version

A year and a half later, Deloretto gave The Aging Rebel his own minute by minute account of the incident. DeLoretto’s account has been slightly edited for brevity.

“On April 23, 2008 I was leaving my house in my twin brother, Jeremy DeLoretto’s Chevy S10 Pick-up truck. At the time I was living on 160 acres in rural Turner, Oregon. The drive way coming up to the property is gravel, and is about a quarter mile private road. There are several signs proclaiming that it is private property. While leaving the property…about half way down the driveway I came up on a blacked out Ford Expedition. The car was black, the windows were heavily tinted, and it had Washington plates. As I approached the vehicle, it backed out down the driveway and drove off south. My first thought was maybe they were lost, but they were speeding and driving slowly like someone who didn’t know where they were. I decided to follow them as far as the freeway to see if I could find out who they were. They drove well above the posted speed limit and acted as though they did not want me to get behind them. When I did catch up to them at a stop sign, all I could make out were shadows because the windows were so heavily tinted. I could tell there were at least two men, both wearing baseball hats. They were not looking back at me and were staring straight ahead. I followed them for the roughly five miles it took to get to the freeway. Because they headed south out of my drive way I assumed they would be taking I-5 south.”

“When they got on I-5 North, again it made me suspicious. As soon as they got on the freeway they cut over two lanes to the fast lane and it was obvious they were trying to ditch me. I followed them closely for about five miles until they got off at the Portland Road exit. I knew this exit, I grew up in Salem. I knew that the Gypsy Jokers former club house was right off this exit. They had recently moved to a new location a few miles down the street, but still used this property sometimes as well. The SUV took a left onto Portland Road on a yellow light that was changing red. I was stuck at the light. When the light turned I caught up with them again. They took a right onto Hyacinth. I followed. They took the next right which took them down an industrial road, and then wraps around to a cul-de-sac. Where it dead ends is the Gypsy Joker’s property. Now I was alone, and un-armed. Instead of following these guys down a dead end I parked across the street in the parking lot of a Jack in the Box, so that I had a view of the Joker’s Property. Sure enough as I pulled in to the Jack in the Box parking lot I looked back over my right shoulder towards the Joker’s house and the SUV was parked in the driveway of the Joker’s house. The driver rolled down his window just enough to stick his hand out and point at me. At this point I knew they were after me. They were not just some random driver that was lost.

“After a few short minutes they left the Joker’s house without getting out of their car, and headed back towards I-5. I followed them still because now my curiosity was peaked, and to be honest I thought they were enemy. Someone from Washington judging by the plates that knew the Joker’s well enough to know they had a house here and how to get there. The Joker’s house was down a maze or dead end streets, it is not a place you can end up in front of by accident. At this point I called my twin brother who was dropping his girlfriend off work not far from where I was and asked him to try and meet up with me, hoping that he would be able to get close enough to the car to see who is inside. The people inside the SUV clearly knew my vehicle and would not let me get close to them, so I was hoping a car they wouldn’t recognize could.

“Things just kept getting weirder. The car that was traveling north bound on I-5 that went into Salem, was now getting back on I-5 but now heading south. I could not figure out why they were now back tracking again. These people were trying to get away from me and it was obvious. At this point I dropped back enough that I kept them in sight but was not right behind them, hoping they would think they lost me and slow down. In the meantime my brother was trying to catch up with us. I cannot remember the exact time but it was getting close to rush hour and traffic was picking up. The SUV was still speeding and was weaving in and out of cars so they it wouldn’t have to slow down. Near Albany, 20 miles south of Salem, I caught up with them again. Jeremy was still not able to catch up with us. He was only about two miles behind us, but because the SUV was going so fast Jeremy was having a hard time catching up. Once in Albany I had a chance to pull alongside of the SUV because they were blocked in my traffic. As I got next to the passenger window the passenger of the SUV pulled his hat down low over his face and reclined his chair so that his head was between the cross bar of the front and back window. He obstructed himself from my view. The windows were so tinted all I could see were shadows so I could see the large shape of the driver but could not make out any features. I needed to be able to look in through the front windshield but they would not let me get in front of them. Anytime I tried they would speed up.

“Jeremy had caught up with us just south of Albany. Because of traffic he could see what was going on but could not get close to the SUV. At one point a marked police car pulled up behind the SUV and flashed its lights. I thought the SUV was being pulled over because it had been driving well above the speed limit. After the marked car flashed its lights the SUV got into the right lane to let the marked car pass. Once the marked car was out of sight the SUV jumped back into the fast lane. At this point I called several of the members of the Eugene chapter. I asked them where they were at, told them what was going on, and asked if any of them could meet me on the freeway and see if they could help me identify these people. And to be honest, we had been driving for close to 50 miles or more by now I expected them to pull over at some point and I didn’t want it to be just me, my brother and Zach, who was a passenger and witness in Jeremy’s car. Around this time, somewhere near Brownsville is when the officers told the jury during my trial that they unbuckled their guns and became in fear of their lives. However, they had no idea Jeremy and Zack were with me. Even as they testified as witnesses the prosecution doubted they were really there. They simply didn’t notice them. At one point Jeremy was right behind them, but he was in his girlfriend’s new car, so they must not have recognized it. They were claiming that two armed police officers in a large SUV were afraid of one small unarmed person in a small pickup truck.

“I was only able to get two people to meet me in Eugene; the other brothers were working or doing other things. The first car I got to meet me was Nathan Cassidy, who was a prospect for the Eugene chapter…. The other person that I got to meet us was my friend Matt Weiss. Matt was not a member of the club or a prospect, didn’t even have a bike. In fact, Matt was moving home to LA the very next day. His house was all boxed up and he had a moving truck scheduled to come April 24th. Matt was not trying to be a Mongol or do anything to gain entry into the Mongols. That was a story the police made up.”

“At this point Agent Packard hit his siren, no lights, just one blow of his siren. We all heard it, and in my dumbest moment, I thought it was coming behind me for after all we had been speeding to catch this SUV. After the siren the SUV jerked hard to the right and took an off ramp onto a small road. Nathan was already taking the exit at this point because of the siren. The SUV pulled up hard behind Nathan and Lonnie, and slammed on his breaks. I was about two car lengths behind the SUV at this time. The SUV had to cross over the white “v” lines that separate the off ramp from the freeway. He had already passed the entrance to the off ramp. Matt, after hearing the siren continued heading south on I5. Once the SUV was behind Nathan it turned on its hidden lights. No siren, just lights. Nathan pulled over and the SUV pulled around him and kept driving past him.

“At this point I figured it was Agent Packard, or someone from ATF. I had met Agent Packard one time before, In no way had I figured that I had done anything wrong so I figured I would follow the cop until he pulled over and ask him what the hell was going on.”

“I signaled again letting them know I was turning right off the exit. There were no cops behind me. It was the SUV in front, me behind and a few cars back Jeremy and behind him Nathan. I turned right and then turned into the first available parking lot that I could find, which happened to be a strip mall also on the right. As I turned into the parking lot the SUV went straight and turned into a later entrance. Jeremy and Nathan turned left into a parking lot directly across the street were they could see everything. I parked and the SUV pulled around so that its lights were on me and it was facing me, it was not in a parking spot. Still there were no cops behind me. I pulled in to the parking lot on my own accord and was not being pulled over like they later claim. I was not running from anyone, and honestly didn’t think for second that anything was wrong. About two full minutes went by and no one from the SUV had exited, they just sat there. At this point I noticed light in my rear view and saw the dozens of cops that were pulling in behind my parked car.

“At this point I thought I was going to get shot, or at least beat up. I was removed from the car, cuffed and searched. I did not give consent to search, and was told I was being searched and cuffed for their safety and that I was no yet under arrest. I was put into the back of a police car, where after asking I was told again that I was not under arrest.

“Around the time that I was being put into the back of the car my aunt pulled into the parking lot, Jeremy had called her. Her ex husband, the one Burroughs was looking for six years prior got out of the car with a camcorder and began to film what was going on. He was told he had to move, leave, and that he could not record anything…. He said later, it was because he does undercover work and did not want any of us knowing what he looks like.”

“According to a dash recording from the police car, as Packard approached the car to talk to me he was warned, my recorder is on. At this point the radio is turned up in the patrol car. It did a great job of drowning out our voices. Packard approached me calmly and said “Mooch, Mooch, Mooch” He explained that this was all a mistake. He later called it a game of cat and mouse that got out of hand. He said that I had done nothing wrong and that he would be cutting me loose any time, he just had to go talk to the local police and let them know. I was then placed into the back of the patrol car. He came up to talk to me again, and again was nice, polite and not upset. He claimed this was all a misunderstanding, and then said, ‘But hey what Matt did, swerving at us, you all can’t be doing that.’ I said are any of my guys in trouble? He said not that he knows of except Matt may get a ticket. He said again that I had done nothing wrong and that he was going to go tell the police to let me go. The next thing I know I am being read my rights, I asked what I was being charged with, in reply the officer told me ‘we are not sure yet.’ They put police cars in front of me and behind me, as well as a motorcycle cop blocking the street so that the Mongols that were on the scene couldn’t follow us. It was a joke.”

“Later after getting discovery, according to Matt Weiss’ attorney on one of the dash recorders the cops are all standing around discussing what to charge me with and one says ‘we have to find something to nail this asshole on.’”

Kidnapping

What they nailed Deloretto on was second-degree attempted kidnapping; conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping; attempted coercion; conspiracy to commit coercion; reckless driving; and reckless endangerment.

But Deloretto got some measure of justice. A jury found him guilty of three misdemeanors – reckless endangering, reckless driving and menacing. A judge sentenced him to a year in jail but the Lane County Sheriff’s Department which runs the Lane County Jail released DeLoretto after one day because they did not consider him to be a risk to society. Then, unable to find a job in Eugene, he violated the terms of his release by leaving Oregon and moving to San Diego where he went to work for a Mongols club officer named Bill Michael Munz.

When the ATF unleashed hell on the Mongols in October 2008, DeLoretto was arrested and returned to Eugene where he was once again promptly released. “There’s nothing with his risk assessment score that’s keeping him from getting out,” a Lane County Sheriff’s spokesman explained.

Nevertheless, the incident with Packard and Burroughs continued to haunt him. In a slick report titled “Bigots on Bikes: The Growing Links between White Supremacists and Biker Gangs” published by the Anti-Defamation League in September 2011, he was described as “a member of the Mongols” who “was convicted in November 2008 of menacing, reckless endangering and reckless driving after a run-in with police in Oregon. The prosecutor in the case said Deloretto had been affiliated with a number of racist skinhead groups and motorcycle gangs.”

College

Gradually, as we all do all the time, Mooch DeLoretto evolved. It occurred to him that one thing he might do with his life was help kids in trouble. He got an undergraduate degree. Now, at 35, he is a graduate student at George Fox University completing his Masters in Social Work. And, in order to earn the graduate degree, he must “complete an internship with a social service agency.”

According to his attorney, his “career objective is to work with gang-affected youth in the criminal justice system.” He applied for a position as and was accepted as an intern at the Oregon Youth Authority in April 2016. Two months later the Assistant Director of the Youth Authority told DeLoretto he had “received complaints from five law enforcement officials about Justin’s presence at OYA due to his Mongols Motorcycle Club membership.” Through thick and thin, DeLoretto has remained a Mongol and he was fired from his internship because of that.

Earlier this month, DeLoretto sued. His complaint alleges: “Justin’s internship was terminated solely because of his Mongols Motorcycle Club membership. Undisclosed law enforcement officials told OYA that they wanted and expected Justin’s internship to be terminated because of his Mongols Motorcycle Club membership.” And, “termination of employment for exercising freedom of speech, expression and association violates the First Amendment’s protection from government intrusion on these guaranteed constitutional rights.”

Test Case

At first glance, his complaint looks like a slam dunk. Last August, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a retired Vago named Ronald Godwin could not be fired from his job at the Rogue Valley Youth Correctional Facility in Grants Pass, Oregon because sometimes “on special occasions, he wore clothes with a Vagos patch.”

But at second glance, it seems sinister that DeLoretto was fired just as the appeals court ruled in Godwin’s favor.  They both worked for the same agency.

The official reasoning for the firing seems to begin with the notion that motorcycle clubs are intrinsically and exclusively criminal organizations. In DeLoretto’s case, the accusation was made in secret. The reasoning follows that because the Mongols can be secretly accused of being intrinsically and exclusively criminal DeLoretto must be a criminal.

Last year’s ruling in the Godwin case was split. A judge named Carlos Bea quoted the late Antonin Scalia, who once argued, “No law enforcement agency is required by the First Amendment to permit one of its employees to ‘ride with the cops and cheer for the robbers.”

So it seems more probable than not that DeLoretto’s firing was intended to be a test. It is common in motorcycle club cases for officials to try the same case over and over until they get a ruling they like.

Most of the last ten years of Mooch DeLoretto’s has been an endless retrying of the same question over and over: Is it possible to be a Vago, Mongol, Hells Angel, Bandido, Outlaw, Warlock or Pagan and simultaneously enjoy what Louis Brandeis called the most basic human right, the right to be let alone?

Maybe Mooch DeLoretto’s lawsuit will answer that question. But the last ten years of DeLoretto’s life suggests that it probably won’t.

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15 Responses to “Mooch’s Tale”

  1. Rottenclam Says:

    Odd that I see Justin’s (and his brother, Jeremy) name pop up on this blog. I had heard a number of years ago that one of them (if not both of them) became Mongols. We ran around together for a little bit in the early 2000s and I can tell you with hand over heart that those guys are hard-knocks. And on a very clear note, they definitely were NOT associated with any racist activity. Quite the contrary actually. Justin and Jeremy are about as anti-racist as it comes.

    Our old circle of friends eventually had a big falling out but I’m glad to hear that Justin has dodged law enforcement’s witch hunt(s). I’m also glad to hear that he is doing well, and still fighting the good fight.

  2. Philo Bedo Says:

    Been in a similar situation, and I’d still rather be me, seven ways to Sunday, than the limp-dicked law dog. Fuck em. Miserable, lying, cowards they are, every one.

    Tuebor,
    ~Philo

  3. BMW Says:

    Pretty darn typical behaviour of ANY federal bully. After violating the US constitution by trespassing without a warrant, the REAL CRIMINALS in this case, the lying ATF agents, tried to get away without being identified. After all, the federal had just been caught trespassing…and the excesses and criminal activity of the ATF has been getting more publicity lately…

    Then, after involving local LEO as dupes, either knowingly or unknowingly, somebody has to charged to account for the run to the parking lot…so Mooch gets charged with criminal acts. If a cop had followed a suspicious car illegally trespassing on his property, this would be considered good behaviour by the news media…but Mooch doesn’t belong to an armed street gang wearing identity patches to intimidate the public…he just belongs to a motorcycle club!

    FREE THE INNOCENT HOSTAGES OF THE WHACO INJUSTICE INDUSTRY!!
    BMW

  4. Phuquehed Says:

    ACAB. The two that fucked with Mooch and lied like the pussies they are, are at the head of the pack of ACAB.

  5. chromedome Says:

    what struck me was when it says mooch called for backup and only a probate and a neutron showed up to help.

    …supportyourlocalwhiteboy….

  6. Loner Says:

    @Kentucky Rider well said

  7. IcemanB&W Says:

    We’re behind Mooch on this one. This case is very important in setting more precedence for personal freedom and self expression. As a wise man once said: “If I am a free man, then let me be that.”

  8. Desdicado Says:

    And the battle continues, with casualties mounting and no end in sight. Ain’t it great to live in Amerika?

  9. Kentucky Rider Says:

    These pieces of shit never cease to amaze me. They trespass on private property, harass the guy, drive recklessly themselves to avoid detection, and then have to make up some shit to arrest him. He makes it through that and is that good enough? Of course not. He chooses to get an education (way more than your average pig on the street), and try to have a career. Nope, they wanna fuck that up too. These assholes are only capable of shoveling tax-payer money into the furnace and harassing, shaking down, and ruining people’s lives. Oh yeah, killing people. They do that too.

  10. Grimey Says:

    Badges still waging war on patches.

  11. panamaa Says:

    “A regional expert on outlaw motorcycle gangs”… What the fuck is that? He must have watched all the SOA episodes thus the “expert” status..

  12. Catfish OCNY Says:

    More harassment to self-justify unnecessary and massively overfunded agencies that commit far more heinous crimes than the groups and individuals they purportedly protect the good and innocent citizens for this once free nation from.

  13. Dutchboy Says:

    Unfortunately we make easy targets for LEOs. Thanks for your insightful reporting Rebel. Too many parrots out there and way too few reporters, good to have you. Living in the country I have followed suspicious vehicles I’ve seen near my place. Local deputies are at least 45 minutes away (if they show at all) so all the neighbors watch for strange cars and people. From your report Mooch didn’t do anything that most the folks in my area has done. The ones acting like a criminal was the trespassers, who happened to be LEOs.

  14. Paladin Says:

    It is true that most cops were relieved of their lunch money on the school yard and in order to fully recover from such a traumatic event have spent a lifetime depriving others of their lives and money.

    Paladin

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