The government really wants to make the racketeering complaint against the Mongols Motorcycle Club stick.
Two more Mongols pleaded guilty this week. The United States Attorney has agreed in writing to give these defendants a little something for their cooperation. Both defendants have stated in writing and agreed in open court that the Mongols Motorcycle Club is a “criminal enterprise” and they committed their crimes “in furtherance of that criminal enterprise.”
Abram Wedig has now publically admitted that on December 10, 2006, he and other “members of the Mongols gang attacked and beat an African-American patron at the Tokio Lounge in Hollywood, California.”
The next month in San Diego, Wedig says he “and other members of the Mongols gang assaulted a Hells Angels supporter and stole an item of this individual’s clothing.”
Last July, Wedig says he, “participated in a Mongols National Presidents meeting. During this meeting, a co-conspirator warned members of the Mongols gang to use caution in speaking on the telephone or writing on the internet so that law enforcement would not detect criminal conduct by members of the Mongols gang.”
Wedig “further agrees that his conduct was related to his role as a member of the Mongols Gang and (his offenses) were committed in furtherance of the criminal enterprise and knowing that its members and associates, including defendant, would commit racketeering offenses, including narcotics trafficking.”
Ricardo Gutierrez, who previously opposed sealing plea deals, has now publically stated that, “as part of his role as a member of the Mongols criminal enterprise, defendant knowingly and intentionally distributed methamphetamine with members and associates of the Mongols Gang.”
As part of the deal, Gutierrez has also agreed to be truthful and honest at all times with the court and agreed with the government allegation that the Mongols is a “criminal enterprise.”
Wedig and Gutierrez are the 23rd and 24th members of the club to agree to plea and sentencing agreements with the government. The deals the first 22 defendants made with the government and the identity of those defendants have been sealed by the Honorable Florence-Marie Cooper, the presiding judge in the case.
Associated Press Suit
Last Monday, the Associated Press (AP), a well known news syndicate, sued to have the sealed plea and sentencing agreements made public.
The AP’s lawyers argue that the appeals court which would hear any appeals to this case, the Ninth Circuit, has already ruled that “Just as there exists a first amendment right of access in the context of criminal trials, it should exist in the context of the means by which most criminal prosecutions are resolved, the plea agreement.”
The AP also argues that the people and the press have a “right of access” to plea deals except in “extraordinary circumstances.” The suit complains that there is no “compelling evidence” here to justify sealing the records.
A hearing on the AP’s suit is scheduled for July 6th.
Also this week, the trial of all remaining defendants was continued yet again, this time from July 21st to November 24th.
Under Federal Sentencing Guidelines, offenses are assigned a level of seriousness from 1- 43. First time offenders up to level eight will probably walk. The criminal histories of offenders are also relegated to one of six categories. A minor criminal offense for which a first timer might walk can mean at least an 18 month jolt for someone the probation officer thinks is not a nice person.
The way federal sentencing works in the United States of America is that the judge holds a piece of cardboard, like a bingo card, with the Roman numerals for one through six printed at the top and all the offense levels of seriousness from 1 to 43 printed down the left side. It is called the “Sentencing Table.” You win, in months in prison, whatever number is printed where your offense and criminal history categories collide.
Even Mongols who have not yet been indicted may already be winners.
Abram Wedig has pled guilty to a base level 19 offense. Because of his cooperation, his offense level will be lowered to 14. He will probably pay his debt to society by serving 15 to 21 months in prison.
Ricardo Gutierrez has admitted he is guilty of a base level 30 offense. Because of his cooperation, he will probably be sentenced to between 57 and 71 months of incarceration.