The Sonoma Angels Indictment

November 21, 2017

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The Sonoma Angels Indictment

Yesterday, about two hours after holding a press conference at an FBI office in San Francisco, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California released the indictment that actually charges 10 members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and one former member with racketeering. The indictment, titled U.S. v. Jonathan Joseph Nelson at al., is a 17 page document appended to 20 pages of indictment sheets.

The club members belong to three charters: Sonoma, Fresno and Salem, Massachusetts.

Brian Wayne Wendt is the President of the Fresno charter of the Hells Angels. Christopher “Rain Man” Ranieri is the President of the Salem charter. Jonathan Joseph “Jon Jon” Nelson, Raymond Michael “Ray Ray” Foakes, Russell Allen “J.R.” Lyles, Jr., Russell Talor “Rusty” Ott, Damien David Cesena, Brian Allen “Bucky” Burke, Jason Randall “Agro” Cliff and David Salvatore Diaz III are all current members of the Sonoma charter, Jeremy Daniel Greer is a former member of the Sonoma charter.

The indictment was filed under seal on October 10. The FBI has stated that the underlying investigation has been underway for ten years. It is probably more accurate to say the case file in ten years old.


According to the indictment:

“The Hells Angels are a transnational violent outlaw motorcycle gang, and the Hells Angels Sonoma County chapter (HASC) is a subset of that organization whose members primarily operate in Sonoma County, California and surrounding counties, and whose activities have affected other parts of the United States. HASC has been in operation since the early 1970s. Associates of HASC include Hells Angels who have a close relationship with HASC, particularly members of the Fresno and Salem/Boston chapters of the Hells Angels.”

“Members and associates of HASC are expected to protect the name, reputation, and status of the gang and its individual members from harm, insult, or disrespect by rival gang members and other persons. HASC members require that all individuals show respect and deference to the gang, its members and associates, and their families. To protect the gang and to enhance its reputation, HASC members are expected to use any means necessary, including acts of intimidation and violence, to obtain respect from those who show its members disrespect.”

“It was part of the conspiracy that each defendant agreed that a conspirator would commit at least two acts of racketeering activity in the conduct of the affairs of the enterprise.”

Big Charges

Most of the allegations are almost mundane. Ray Foakes lied on a mortgage application. There are multiple incidents of assault and possession of firearms while cultivating marijuana. Allegedly someone named Victim Two had his home invaded and his marijuana stolen. Victim Three had his motorcycle stolen. Some Angels stole Victim Four’s marijuana. Victim Five was seriously assaulted and his motorcycle was stolen. (Victim Five may have been punched in the mouth with a large ring and the damage required plastic surgery to repair.)

The sensational charges involve Victims One and Six.

Victim Six was the wife of an out bad member of the club. According to the indictment Ray Foakes sexually assaulted the woman late last November, five weeks after he was released from federal prison, and then told her not to report it. According to the indictment, other members of the charter also told her not to report it.

The indictment also alleges that “On or about July 15,2014, Brian Wendt, aided and abetted by Jonathan Nelson and Russell Ott killed Victim One at the Fresno Hells Angels clubhouse.. The murder began when Jonathan Nelson directed Victim One to travel to the Fresno Hells Angels clubhouse to meet with Brian Wendt, and on or about July 15, 2014, Russell Ott travelled with Victim Ott from the Northern District of California to Fresno, California.”

Nelson, Foakes, Lyles, Greer, Wendt, Ott, Ranieri, Diaz and Cesena all face up to life in prison. Cliff could be sentenced to 30 years imprisonment. Burke could be sentenced to 20 years.

More Boilerplate

The U.S. Attorney’s Office press release quotes United States Attorney Brian J. Stretch as saying: “This week we have taken a significant step toward bringing to justice an alleged conspiracy whose aim has been to commit violent crimes, The indictment unsealed this morning describes an array of serious offenses allegedly committed by the defendants including conspiracy to commit murder, assault, maiming, home invasion robbery, extortion, and witness intimidation. This operation proves once again the value of pooling the resources of the federal government with those of our state and local law enforcement partners – it is only through this coordination that we are able to stamp out violence in our communities. I commend and thank all of our law enforcement partners for their extraordinary work in bringing this phase of the operation to a successful conclusion.”

Also, according to the press release, “Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kevin Barry and Erin Cornell are prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the FBI, the Santa Rosa Police Department, the Sonoma county Sheriff’s Department, and the California Highway Patrol.”

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26 Responses to “The Sonoma Angels Indictment”

  1. Gandalf Says:

    And that my Friends is why Paladin is so respected on this Blog. He knows the Law. If I remember correctly He had deep fears about Jakes chances at Trial. Paladin was reminding us that because of the way the Law reads Jake had troubles. That’s called not posting just to make friends and Tow the Rebel line. Ya just gotta respect that.

  2. Paladin Says:

    @ Frank,

    Individuals “A” and “B” are arguing in individual “A’s” front yard. Individual “A” punches individual “B”. Individual “B” then chases individual “A” into individual “A’s” house with the intent to punch (Batter) individual “A”.

    “Burglary is entering a protected structure with the intent to commit a crime inside. In contrast, Home Invasion is forcibly entering an occupied residence. To be considered “occupied” someone must live in the residence, but that person does not have to be home at the time of the offense.”

    As you can see by the above definition, any forcible entry into an occupied residence, whether occupied at the time of entry or not is chargeable as a home invasion. It is a common practice to charge those accused of a residential burglary with the additional crime of Home Invasion. The allegation that a theft occurred at the the time of the trespass (the stealing of marijuana) satisfies the elements required of the crime of Home Invasion Burglary.


  3. 10GAUGE Says:

    Dear Frank,
    Not related at all to this case, because I don’t know anything about it…but mundane usually means a home invasion is anything the cops say it is. Someone motherfucks someone else and their family and threaten their well being, and they take them and their buddies up on the offer and now there is a home invasion charge…or someone stole your property and You come take it back…or there is a beef in a front yard and someone runs into a house to get their pistol and someone else runs in to stop them…or any number of things that happen…and someone tells on someone else and there you have it.


  4. Northern Californian Says:

    Very interested to see how this plays out. Linking charters together for a Rico case could be a major hit against the club. I hope the best for those boys.

  5. Rebel Says:

    Dear Stacy,

    It was a typo. When I OCR a court document to quote from it, I have to manually take out the documents original line numbers. I missed one. It is gone now.


  6. Stacy Says:

    What is Status 23? i.e. “Members and associates of HASC are expected to protect the name, reputation, and status 23

  7. JohnnyD Says:

    An attorney I know has stopped defending MC members in Arizona. She is a single mother and the gang task force kept threatening to indict her for conspiracy. The told her repeatedly that if they got the indictment, they would put her daughter in foster care and demand that she not be allowed to visit her. She now represents drug smugglers and sex offenders. She doesn’t get bothered by the GTF anymore.
    I wonder if this could be the beginning of a federal assault on 81.

  8. CatfishOCNY Says:

    @jay: your comment below is 100% accurate, Sir.
    Thank you Rebel, as always.

  9. tj Says:

    ok..i read the indictment tuesday, after they picked Chris totally confused. I know chris only charge in this indictment, is the murder conspiracy..yet, the indictment reads that wendt, aided by nelson and ott, killed ‘victim one’….no mention of rain…and i mean, i find it odd no mention who this victim one is or was? ok, i understand not naming the other victims, potential witnesses, but victim one cant testify? smells like a fairy tale by a former disgruntled member, springle a little rico dust on it, throw chris into the mix cuz they havent wanted him for years, and you have life sentence facing you…..they want these guys to plead to 15, i hope they fight it to the no biker, have friends in other realms that have fought and won RICO cases, it can be done, most take the deal cuz the feds have you over a barrel. know chris well, hes a fighter, god bless to all of them

  10. Dutchboy Says:

    RICO is like the whole “Gang Enhancement” crap. Just a way of turning a bunch of accusations without proof into a much longer stretch for many more people.

  11. jay Says:

    if these assholes spent the same time and money against these south american (now regular american) gangs like ms 13, they might actually make the world a better place….

  12. Blind Tom Says:

    I know that bar and I knew a lot of bikers there in the ’80s when the honky tonk band I played with did the Wagon Wheel regularly. They were good guys. I even have a Sonoma Chapter sticker on my truck. Something doesn’t add up here.

  13. Agnarr Says:

    Well finally got chrome changed to allow me to post. Thanx to those who listed the answer to them having same issue.

    After reading this article by Rebel. It made me start wonder why the DA that went filed this case over the covered bike in Virginia must have thought he was an ‘legal scholar’ with that argument in front of the courts. With a little fact checking would not surprise me if some of the Judges are old law partners of the DA. Who knows Maybe the whole lot of them went to the same Law School as DA Rectum and his Butt-plugs in Waco.


  14. Gandalf Says:

    Thanks for choosing Frank… I guess you answered my question nicely. Your…You’re. OMG…OMC. What’s the difference anyway? Except 99 years right?

  15. RLG Says:

    Uh, pot is legal in California…

  16. Frank Says:

    @Gandolf, I know it isn’t a big thing, but what you are looking to write here is ‘you’re’ as opposed to ‘your’. Its pretty common, it doesn’t make you an idiot.

  17. Gandalf Says:

    @Frank; “MOST of the allegations are ALMOST mundane.” Either your stupid or you think we are. Take your pick.

  18. Frank Says:

    Rebel, did you refer to a home invasion robbery as mundane? That’s an odd descriptor.

  19. Iron Rider Says:

    @ Dutchboy

    Agree, looks like they just lumped shit together and threw in the RICO just as a cherry. We’ll see what the defendants lawyers have to say about this, but I think they have a good chance of getting RICO looked at with a little side eye by a judge

  20. Dutchboy Says:

    “Hey Joe, how many cold cases we got? Okay, let’s lump them all together and charge those long haired hippy motorcycle freaks with “conspiracy”! We clean out some old files and maybe one of those pot heads will cop a plea!” Best of luck to the 81 and all those fighting to live free.

  21. Paladin Says:

    Indictments like the above always beg the question: What did the victims do to invite the alleged responses from the accused?

    Having ridden the End of Summer Run in the past, I had no idea I was in the company of such Hooligans. Oh my!


  22. Iron Rider Says:

    This looks like the cops version of a bunch of whodunit’s they couldn’t solve so they busted someone whose an outsider or someone that knows this guy who happened to be taking a shit in the washroom shitter stall when they over heard two guys standing at the urinals talking about last nights SOA rerun and assumed all this big scary biker talk had to be the HA and thought score this is the best way to get rid of those charges I face for prostitution because I was sucking dick for crack money and I should run to the cops and tell them the info I have for them and want immunity from my prostitution charges.

  23. BigV Says:

    “Everything you say is being taped and will be used against your grandchildren.”

    10 years is nothing- they’ll play leap frog and tie one capricious charge to another and sometimes you have 17 years worth of shit that has absolutely nothing at all in common all folded in. In 84-86, one of the Florida trials went back to where the MC in question had entirely different name, structure, and patch.

    In another FL trial a predicate was a murder that never happened. That murder was later used to deny parole repeatedly- despite the fact the person was alive and well.

    Everything we put up on the Internet is aggregated by “LE” and applied to throw enough shit at a wall where something will stick.

    Combine it with document dumps, lazy morons preparing the cases, lazy, stupid and bully cops(I’m not sure there has ever been any other kind of cop), and our system is just a farm for privatized prisons.

    For years the prevailing sentiment was anyone who was in an MC was a knuckle dragging missing link. Now the OMG tag is is the OMO tag, and the US has adopted Canada’s line of BS- anyone in an MC is now portrayed as some Machiavellian plotter in a corporate organizational chart.

    So which are we ? Too stupid to breathe on our own or just missed the Fortune 500 by a skip and a beat ?

  24. James W Crawford Says:

    “possession of firearms while cultivating marijuana,” LOTFLMAO!

    I wish I could get local LE to investigate my psycho pot plantionist tenant who shot at my son. Turns out local LE are investors in the grow.

  25. Psycho Says:

    Anyone who has prospected with any club anywhere most likely spent a fair amount of time cleaning their club’s clubhouse. Clubhouses are our homes, and our escape from the masses. It’s where we cut loose, and can be ourselves. It’s where we don’t have to worry about stupid questions or challenges from civilians, or the preying eyes of the law. We don’t invite people to our clubhouses who we don’t want there. So why in the fuck would it make sense to take someone there to kill them? That one doesn’t add up for me at all.

    Fuck your feelings

  26. Freebird Says:

    Fuck only 10 years? lets go back to what their grandfather may or may not have done one night when he was drunk in August in Central Texas in 1946!

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