A Hill Of Nothing

June 19, 2017

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A Hill Of Nothing

Over the weekend, an attorney familiar with the recently unsealed Vagos case titled USA v. Palafox et al., called the indictment “a hill of nothing. Nothing will come of this” he said. “But if the government wants to get you, they will litigate for forever and a day.”

Details of the case will remain vague until sometime after the conclusion of a series of hearings today in Las Vegas but broad details of the case are already emerging that are certain to be either unreported or de-emphasized by other news outlets. In the spirit of incremental reporting, here are some big pieces of the puzzle.

Superseding Indictment

The indictment against 23 living and dead members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club, including club president Pastor Fausto “Ta Ta” Palafox, is a superseding indictment. The original indictment was returned by a Las Vegas grand Jury on September 6, 2016. It accused five Vagos named Johnny Russell “Johnny Bolts” Neddenriep, Darin Lieth “Midget” Grieder, Thomas Granville “Tommu Guns” Garretson, Bert Wayne “Flash” Davisson and Matthew Keith “Big Mat” Dunlap of five racketeering acts as part of a criminal enterprise called the “Vagos Outlaw Motorcycle Gang.”

The indicted men are accused of five federal crimes: Two counts of Violent Crime In Aid of Racketeering including kidnapping and assault; Using and Carrying a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence; motor vehicle theft on behalf of the Vagos; and “Aiding and Abetting.

The five men were accused of kidnapping “M.H.” while brandishing a firearm on September 15, 2011, beating M.H. badly enough that he suffered “ serious bodily injury,”and stealing his “Harley Davidson motorcycle, which had been shipped and transported in interstate commerce, and said offense resulted in serious bodily injury to M. H.”

All five men are named in the superseding indictment. None of the five appears to have made a plea deal.

One Big Investigation

There is only one big investigation. It is federal and it is aimed at all one percenter motorcycle clubs. This case is part of an attempt to create cases against multiple motorcycle clubs in exactly the same way that the Mongols case US v. Cavazos et al., unsealed in 1989, was directly tied to undercover investigations of the Outlaws, Pagans and Warlocks. That Mongols investigation was the child of earlier federal investigations into the Sundowners, Hells Angels and Vagos.

Palafox is based on multiple state and federal investigations and prosecutions. The point of it all seems to be to find a cost efficient way to outlaw one percenter motorcycle clubs. The man who now appears to be in charge of the war on motorcycle clubs is Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco. Blanco is a career prosecutor who is also an Adjunct Professor of Law at Georgetown University. Blanco started his government career as a prosecutor in Miami and he has spent much of his professional life in the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section at the Department of Justice.

Because one priority in every federal, motorcycle club prosecution is to refine the means by which every motorcycle club can be charged under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act both the original indictment from last September and the superseding indictment unsealed last Friday contain identical boilerplate.

Like:

The “defendants herein, and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, were members and associates of the Vagos Outlaw Motorcycle Gang, a criminal organization whose members and associates engaged in, among other criminal activities, narcotics distribution, firearms trafficking, and acts of violence involving murder, kidnapping, assault, extortion, robbery, and witness intimidation.”

Or:

“Support clubs were subordinate but affiliated motorcycle clubs that supported the dominant club’s activities and were permitted to wear the same colors as the dominant club. Each chapter president was responsible for support clubs that affiliated with the Vagos OMG as well as the Confederation of Clubs (an amalga- mation of motorcycle organizations who banded together to promote common interests) operating within the same geographical area.”

And:

“The purposes of the enterprise included, but were not limited to…enriching the leaders, members, and associates of the enterprise; preserving, protecting, and enhancing the power, territory, reputation, and profits of the enterprise through the use of threats, intimidation, violence, and destruction, including, but not limited to, acts involving murder, assault, obstruction of justice, and other acts of violence;” and “keeping victims in fear of the enterprise and in fear of its leaders, members, and associates through threats of violence and actual violence.”

Virtually all policing in the United States is now federalized. An increasing percentage of federal investigations are hidden behind state investigations. And “if the government wants to get you, they will litigate for forever and a day.” Two major components of Palafox illustrate this.

Halgat

One of the shadowy agents provocateur in Palafox is a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy named Agostino Brancato. Brancato participated in episodes of what prosecutors described as “guerilla street theater” in the big Mongols case that began in 2006 and he managed to patch into the Vagos during a joint federal state investigation branded “Operation Pure Luck.” Pure Luck began just as Mongols investigation ended and just as former Vago Ashley Charles Wyatt – he now calls himself Charles Falco – was beginning his infiltration of the Outlaws.

A Vago named Jeremy John “Maniak” Halgat was indicted twice, in two nearly identical cases on June 19, 2013. One case was titled USA v. Udell Wickham et al. and the other was called USA v. Halgat et al. They were both the fruit of the largely unsuccessful Operation Pure Luck.

The way prosecutors put it in November 2014 was, “The purpose of TFO Brancato’s infiltration into the Vagos was to determine: (1) if the Vagos OMG was a criminal enterprise, and (2) if its members were engaging in criminal activity.” The short version is that Vagos were not what the fededral government hoped they would be. But eventually brancato found a way to give his bosses what they wanted. Just make something up.

Brancato

For months, Halgat refused to sell drugs to Brancato. Finally he agreed to to introduce Brancato to a drug dealer in hopes that that might shut the TFO up. Brancato had to figure out how to portray what Halgat had done criminal.

In an accidentally recorded conversation between Brancato and his ATF handler, discovered by a defense attorney named Melanie Hill, Brancato brainstormed: “This is what I’m thinking…. Like as far as I’m concerned fucking Maniak sold me this fucking ounce, Bro. I mean, really. Yeah. Well, that’s what I’m thinking. Well, this is what I’m thinking, Bro is that on the QP, we do it the same way. Let Maniak…I give Maniak the money, he goes in there, brings it back to me, da, da, da. And then on the next one, I’m like hey, Bro, can I just go to him direct and I’ll still give you the money and now I have a sale of QP with him. You know what I’m saying? With Udell, without him, so now, he owns one and then this guy and Maniak owns one. Well, alright, so we may need a little bit more. We maybe have to do a little bit more. That’s…which is perfect. Yup.”

Halgat’s case has lingered for four years. During that time he has been a free man. He has been subject to drug testing and never failed a test. He has been granted permission to leave the country twice on business, once to China and once to Britain. Last week, he was indicted on the same charges once again in Palafox. Brancato is mentioned, although not by name, in last week’s superseding indictment 21 times.

Gonzalez

The original indictment in what is now titled Palafox was returned on September 6, 2016 for two tactical reasons. First to beat the statute of limitations for the violent motorcycle theft alleged to have occurred on September 15, 2011, but more importantly to beat the statute of limitation for the September 23, 2011 homicide of Hells Angel Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew during a brawl between Vagos and Hells Angels at the Nugget Hotel and Casino in Sparks, Nevada,

A Vago named Ernesto Manuel “Romeo” Gonzalez was charged with murder in the state case. Although it was a state case there was extensive involvement by both the Department of Homeland Security and the ATF. Gonzalez was convicted in state court largely on the testimony of an ex-Vago named Stuart Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick. Rudnick personally and intentionally started the fight that led to Pettigrew’s death. Rudnick testified that Pettigrew’s murder was ordered by Palafox in front of 200 witnesses because the Hells Angels were treating Vagos “like bitches.” Rudnick told jurors that Gonzalez volunteered to murder Pettigrew at that meeting and that Gonzalez admitted the murder to Rudnick the next day.” There were no corrobo-rating witnesses to any of this. Just Rudnick’s tesitmony.

Gonzalez testified that he shot Pettigrew because he was afraid the Hells Angel was about to kill another Vago. The judge who presided at Gonzalez trial, Connie Steinheimer, clearly acted to aid the prosecution by her conduct of the proceedings and her instructions to jurors. Gonzalez’ conviction was overturned by the Nevada Supreme Court on New Year’s Eve 2015. That court ruled that Steinheimer had abused her power.

Rudnick

Rudnick spent two years in a Nevada prison and after his release, in a written declaration signed May 17, 2016, in Las Vegas, Rudnick recanted his testimony against Gonzalez. In writing, Rudnick said the state prosecutor in the case, Karl Hall told him to lie.

“He told me…what he wanted me to change to lie for him,” Rudnick said in his handwritten statement. “I was looking at 25 years in prison.”

And yet the same charge appears, the same story allegedly invented by prosecutor Hall, in the Palafox indictment. In effect, federal and state prosecutors, working hand in hand, will now have two more chances to convict Gonzalez of the premeditated murder of Pettigrew. The Double Jeopardy clause in the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution doesn’t matter because, as always in the great, magical circus of American jurisprudence, the large print giveth and the small print taketh away.

Dual Sovereignty Exception

Gonzalez can be tried twice for the same murder because of the Dual Sovereignty Exception to the Double Jeopardy clause. In a 1985 Supreme Court case titled Heath v. Alabama, Sandra Day O’Connor wrote:

“The dual sovereignty doctrine provides that when a defendant in a single act violates the ‘peace and dignity’ of two sovereigns by breaking the laws of each, he has committed two distinct ‘offences’ for double jeopardy purposes. In applying the doctrine, the crucial determination is whether the two entities that seek successively to prosecute a defendant for the same course of conduct can be termed separate sovereigns. This determination turns on whether the prosecuting entities’ powers to undertake criminal prosecutions derive from separate and independent sources. It has been uniformly held that the States are separate sovereigns with respect to the Federal Government because each State’s power to prosecute derives from its inherent sovereignty, preserved to it by the Tenth Amendment, and not from the Federal Government. Given the distinct sources of their powers to try a defendant, the States are no less sovereign with respect to each other than they are with respect to the Federal Government.”

The willingness of federal investigators to participate in a flawed Nevada murder case and then retry the same case in a federal court while it is also being retried in the same state court that botched the frame up in the first place would seem to indicate that Acting Assistant Attorney General Blanco is after heads, not justice.

The Waco defendants should take note of this. There is really only one investigation. It’s basis is the Enterprise Theory of Investigation. It is not about the Vagos or the Bandidos, the Mongols or the Outlaws. It is not about any one club. It is about what all these clubs and all these defendants represent.

 

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17 Responses to “A Hill Of Nothing”

  1. david Says:

    Relentless Persecution: In the high courts’ 1958 case, Ciucci v Illinois, 356 U.S. 571,573, among the dissenting opinions is,

    “Even before the 14th. Amend. was held to incorporate the protections of the Double Jeopardy Clause(U.S.Consti.), four Members of this Court registered their OUTRAGE at ‘an instance of the prosecution’s being ALLOWED(by the court)to harass with repeated trials and convictions on the SAME evidence,until it achieved its desired result of a capital verdict’. Such “relentless prosecutions”, they asserted, constituted “an unseemly and oppressive use of a criminal trial that VIOLATES the concept of due process contained in the Fourteenth Amend.

    Not mentioned here, is the fact relentless prosecution additionally VIOLATES defendant’s 5th. Amend. protected right to due process, as well as the concept.

    Ken Blanco(Read:White-wash),coincidentally is a “Professor” at Jesuit Roman Catholic Georgetown University. The well experienced Jesuit inquisitors apparently taught him well.

  2. SoCal Says:

    This indictment appears to be scripted by the makers of “Gangland”. A financial war, even if acquitted, you still don’t win. @Hangaround Don’t expect any investigation on Karl Hall. He was elected Reno City Attorney in 2015. Onward and upward for that POS….

  3. Austin Says:

    Hill? It’s not a hill. It’s a mountain. In fact… it is Bandini Mountain. Best wishes to all ensnared in the muck.
    Maybe Johnny Law could be re-directed to actual Enemies of the State?!

  4. Basher Says:

    @Dutchboy very well stated. @tiopirata amen brother. @Piss boy go fuckyourself, why is it that when anyone talks about anything other then war the trolls come out? Think we all know.. oink oink little piggy! We can all agree thy if we don’t change with the times we will go extinct. When certain members started wearing leather people tripped, shorter hair? People tripped. Grey beards can give you a list of all the changes they’ve seen and probably don’t like but the changes have come and we’ve adapyed. Like the brother Dutchboy said it’s gotta come from somewhere, why not here? Why not now? Fuck the Feds and those thy make a living off destroying honest real American men!!

  5. BMW Says:

    The federal persecutors, plagiarizing, pugnacious, perfunctory, panicked, perjurious, presumptuous, pandering pussies that they are, have been using the same sort of lies as boilerplate in case after case for decades.

    They have been repeating (and falsely swearing it factual) the same baseless imaginary charges time after time, alleging that practical jokes were secretly criminal acts. According to the federales and their current edition of “Malleus Maleficarum”, (distributed by the Department of INJUSTICE and Stevie Cookiestealer) bikers really DO dig up dead bodies for cunnilingus, and then wear various colour wings to brag about it…

    Persecutors believe that if they could make those uneducated and uninformed jurors and citizens believe that meth dealers wear certain signs, although for twenty years, the same persecutors claimed that marijuana dealers had been wearing those same 13 patches…the true meaning (surreptitiously hidden from the public) seems to miraculously mutate to whatever meaning a persecutors desires (like witch marks of a sort).

    Clubs could share some of the boilerplate dishonesty through their lawyers if they wish…you can be sure the lying scumbag persecutors trade these boilerplates like baseball cards between themselves…although the LEO informer’s and provocateurs do their best to prevent this by passing on rumours of plots and plans by OTHER clubs…creating mistrust.

    FREE THE INNOCENT HOSTAGES OF THE CORRUPT WHACKO INJUSTICE INDUSTRY AND THEIR FAMILIES!!!

  6. tiopirata Says:

    @Basher. Agreed. Those forces arrayed against us are a far greater danger then we are to each other. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, sometimes.
    @Dutchboy. Spot on.
    @Piss on all. Fuck you

  7. Dutchboy Says:

    @Peace (Officer)among all. What’s wrong there ossifer? Afraid the majors might make peace and start working to defend EVERYONE from a common foe? Every change starts with a thought. The first MCs started with the thoughts of the founders who then talked and made their thoughts real. Our country is the same. The thoughts and dreams of real men who had the guts to dream, to strive, to risk everything to bring something new and better to the Earth. Are the Red and White working a fund raiser with the Black and White to help with the legal fees of the Red and Gold? Not yet, but ANYTHING is possible if men have the will to make it happen. It’s easy to belittle and sling mud on the ideas of others, much harder to come up with ideas that help.

  8. Peace among all (sarcasm) Says:

    @Basher…WOW!! NO-ONE EVER EVER THOUGHT OF THAT!!.A genius thats what you are,and dont let no one tell you different….IMAGINE A WORLD OF UNICORNS,RAINBOWS AND STREETS OF GOLD!!!!

  9. Snuggles Says:

    @ STeel, already happened, and the media yawned. Ever hear of the Tea Party?

  10. panamaa Says:

    Just one big clusterfuck of horse cock and gun smoke and tax money…

    Fuck the feds…

  11. RIDER 1 Says:

    @ Steel, I agree with you that the FED plan is to create never ending litigation with hopes that the clubs will run out of resources to defend themselves. With the latest cases, it would seem that the tactic has been to just throw shit at the clubs knowing 90% of it will never stick. I also believe that part of the tactic is to cut down on club membership through harrassment and the media.

    RIDER 1

  12. Steel Says:

    Seems the whole plan of the Feds is to bankrupt every single club with endless litigation. The attorney’s fees will eat up every single resource of the MCs involved. If this happened to any other group, the media would be raising hell but with MCs the media could care less. The Feds have to produce something, too, to keep their funding flowing, get those pay raises and bonuses. Seems to me the Feds are the criminals here.

    Respects

    Steel

  13. Iron Rider Says:

    Another case where the Feds couldn’t get what they wanted so the Fed’s guy manufactures something to make a case and the prosecution runs with it. Ugh and home much did the Feds spend on this sure fired winner

    Honestly these cases against the MC’s are so thin you’d think the Feds would go try and solve some real crime, but I guess those seized cuts look good on the 6’o clock news compared to that van load of coke that Pedro drove over the border for the cartel

  14. Basher Says:

    The black and white are next, I’m sure agents are already switching gears in Kali to go after them and then it will be the 81 agin. It just goes in a circle. Sad thing is most of the time the big “offense” is something between the clubs, like in this case. Had the Nugget situation never taken place they never would of had their headline or their big justification to keep spending all the money and time. Imagine if for once all the real clubs got together. It’s far past my rank and beilive me I know there’s hrs feelings but if we all got together and agreed to at least a few basic ground rules I honestly think we would have a far better chance at fighting off what very much looks like our very near extinction. Something needs to be done amongst ourselves or we will soon be a thing of the past. Like the outlaws of old and the buffalo we will be killed off bye those in power for the ” betterment of society”!

  15. xplor Says:

    This has all the earmarks of a domestic phoenix program.

  16. Hangaround Says:

    So when are they going to prosecute Karl Hall for witness tampering, and his other proprietorial misconduct?

  17. Paladin Says:

    Buried under that “Hill of Nothing” are the remains of those that have lost or will lose everything.

    Paladin

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