Late last week, five more men pled guilty to racketeering in the government prosecution of the Mongols Motorcycle Club. Three of those pleas were made public. Two of those pleas remain sealed.
So far in this case, 23 plea and sentencing agreements have been filed with the Federal Court for the Central District of California. Thirteen plea changes have also been filed. All but one of those plea changes have been accepted by the court..
The total number of plea and sentencing agreements in this case and the degree to which each of the confessed men is cooperating or has cooperated with the prosecutors remains a state secret. At a glance, a minimum of 23 members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club would seem to have pleaded guilty to the first count in the indictment. Also, at a glance the number of confessed racketeers could be as high as 35.
The Fog Of Prosecution
However, government secrecy and federal rules of court procedure confuse any positive conclusion. Some plea changers may have pled nolo contendre, or “no contest” and then pled guilty on another date. Some confessed racketeers may have pled to multiple charges in separate pleas. As long as so many of the pleas remain secret, there is no sure way to know.
Worldly and cynical readers are also aware that a standard tool in federal prosecutions is an Orwellian tactic titled, “Rule 35.” Rule 35 provides for “sentence relief or reduction for providing assistance to the government in the investigation or conviction of another person or persons.” Among the many nuances of Rule 35 is a device called “Third Party Assistance” which allows a witness to cooperate with prosecutors through a third party without actually entering a plea.
Under certain circumstances, prosecutors may wait for up to a year after the commencement of a trial to enter a Rule 35 Motion on behalf of a cooperating witness. The Mongols racketeering trial is now scheduled to begin in November.
What Everybody Is Saying
The first count of the indictment, to which it appears at least 23 defendants have confessed, states that:
Everyone named in the October indictment “…and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, were members and associates of an organization engaged in, among other things, murder, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to traffic in narcotics, narcotics-trafficking, robbery, extortion, money laundering, and witness intimidation. At all relevant times, this organization, known as the “Mongols” Biker gang, operated in the Central District of California and elsewhere. The Mongols gang, including its leadership, membership, and associates, constituted an ‘enterprise,’ as defined by Title 18, United States Code, Section 1961(4), that is, a group of individuals associated in fact. The enterprise engaged in, and its activities affected, interstate and foreign commerce. The enterprise constituted an ongoing organization whose members functioned as a continuing unit for a common purpose of achieving the objectives of the enterprise.”
Additionally, each of the confessed racketeers has admitted to “predicate crimes.” These are crimes that were committed on behalf of the Mongols “conspiracy.”
As previously stated here, John “Weto” Newman; Christopher “Punk Rock” Loza; William “Dago Bull” Shawley; Abram “Cane” Wedig; Ramon “Speedy” Contreras; and William “Dago Bull” Shawley have all pled guilty to count one of the indictment and to additional predicate crimes.
Three club officers are also known to have pled guilty to count one and additional predicate crimes. Those men are Ricardo Gutierrez, President of the South Bay Chapter in Los Angeles; Shawn “Monster” Buss, Sergeant at Arms of the Hollywood Chapter; and Juan Manuel “Listo” Nieves.
Nieves is the most senior member of the Mongols known to have confessed to count one. Nieves was Sergeant at Arms for the Mother Chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle Club.
The Mother Chapter
The Department of Justice has alleged that the Mother Chapter was the “leadership and governing body of the Mongols…. The Mother Chapter exercises authority over the actions of individual Mongols members and the regional chapters. Mongols pay money into the Mother Chapter in the form of fees, dues and taxes. Those funds are used, in part, to fund and promote the organization and pay for the legal expenses of Mongols members when they are prosecuted for committing crimes on behalf of the organization.”
According to public documents, during all but six weeks of the most recent, undercover, government investigation of the Mongols, the Mother Chapter was “comprised of defendants Cavazos, R. Cavazos, Jr., H. Gonzalez, Roseli, Nieves, Tinoco and Munz.” Ruben “Doc” Cavazos, Ruben “‘Lil Rubes” Cavazos Jr., Arthur “Chiques” Roseli, Juan Manuel “Listo” Nieves, Anthony Mark “Bengal” Tinoco and John Canales all ceased to be national officers in August, 2008.
Rebel You Illiterate Jackass
Last Friday, a learned legal scholar furiously complained to this page that Nieves admission that the “Mongols biker gang” is a murdering, drug dealing, robbing, extorting, money laundering, witness intimidating, criminal enterprise insensitively overstated the extent of Nieves cooperation with prosecutors. The scholar demanded that this page retract a statement that Nieves would testify to his admission. The statement that Nieves would testify to his admission was sloppy and unfounded. The Aging Rebel has retracted that statement.
For the record, this page is trying -in the face of blatant government obfuscation-to tell the truth about this case in a manner that is considerate of the defendants and their families.
Coincidentally, later just that very afternoon five plea and sentencing agreements were filed with the court. Two of those pleas were sealed. The pleas entered by Joseph “Swifty” Valle, Manuel “Leatherface” Vasquez and Thomas “Danger” Savala were not sealed.
Valle, Vasquez And Savala
Valle, Vasquez and Savala all pled guilty to count one of the indictment. As with every other unsealed plea agreement, all three promised to “not knowingly and willfully fail to be truthful at all times with Pretrial Services, the US Probation Office and the Court.”
Additionally, Valle admitted that he sought to obtain methamphetamine and that he possessed and intended to distribute about 55 grams of that illegal drug. Vasquez stated in writing that he possessed and intended to distribute about 8 grams of methamphetamine. Savala admitted that he had arranged to collect narcotics proceeds from a co-defendant, retrieved a weapon from a co-defendant and participated in a Mongols “leadership meeting. ”
Previous court documents had mentioned “Savala’s participation in an April 8, 2007 shooting; and… participation in the November 2007 murder of two City Terrace gang members whose bodies were set ablaze in the desert after being shot.”
The plea filed Friday does not contain a word about either of those now, apparently, unfounded allegations.