This, in a nutshell, is a summary of the legal dispute over the name and patch of the Mongols Motorcycle Club.
The government of the United States is proposing to seize two registered “marks.” The “verbal mark,” the word “Mongols” when used to mean a particular motorcycle club, dates to January 20, 1969. The “visual mark,” the patch which depicts a Mongol with a top knot, bell bottoms and cowboy boots, riding a rigid with a big sissy bar and brandishing a scimitar, dates to February 26, 1970.
How Can They Do That
The government has advanced two rationales for seizing both marks: That is, to prohibit any group of motorcyclists from either calling itself the Mongols or from wearing or using in any way a patch similar to the current Mongols patch.
First of all, the government argues, these two marks “were property or rights that afforded a source of influence over the RICO enterprise,” by which the government means the Mongols criminal conspiracy which featured drug dealing and violence and so on and on. The terrorizing of innocent persons of color and of little old ladies in Palm Springs. The shooting up of toy drives just to watch the little children run for their lives and scream and so on.
The government can advance this argument because former Mongols President Ruben “Doc” Cavazos “has admitted as part of his plea (and the undisputed evidence conclusively confirms) that the Mongols Registered Trademarks were acquired and maintained by defendant (Doc Cavazos) during and in the course of the operation of the RICO enterprise.”
Doc Owned The Patch And The Club
Cavazos’ “admissions also establish that the Mongols Registered Trademarks afforded a source of influence over the RICO enterprise that (the) defendant admits he established, operated, controlled, conducted and participated in the conduct of, rendering the marks subject to forfeiture.”
Cavazos, it seems at a glance, has confessed to everything except the Kennedy assassination. And, he was running it all. He was the king of all criminals. And his confession that the Mongols was a criminal gang and what the government likes to call “the nexus between the marks and the RICO enterprise…has already been proven,” It has been proven not only by his plea but also by the pleas of other defendants “taken to date (which) cannot be undone.”
Secondly, the government is arguing that Doc Cavazos owned the patch when the government seized it and that he has now given it to the government to, in part, atone for his sins. Forfeiture of the patch is part of Doc Cavazos’ sentence.
But Doc Stole The Patch
And, that is where the issue gets interesting. A California corporation named the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club claims to be the actual, “innocent owner” of the Mongols marks. And, that corporation is legally impeccable.
The President of that corporation is a man named Martin Guevara. Guevara has no criminal convictions. He asserts that he has been a Mongol since 1997. And so he has been entitled to use those two marks since 1997. Guevara appears to be assert, although his lawyer seems too timid or stupid to say so out loud, that he is a “real Mongol” representing “real Mongols” as opposed to all those “criminal Mongols.”
The corporation’s Articles specifically state that “any member who uses, sells, transports or possesses any controlled substance or other illegal drug shall be expelled….” And, in what is apparently the Doc Cavazos clause, “any member who uses the corporation for any illegal gain shall be expelled….” And further, anyone who is found guilty of “any serious felony” will also be out bad.
Some sources, some friends of this page, have described this new found enthusiasm for sober living and law-abiding to be a matter of the club “getting its act together.” Which the club undoubtedly has. But, it is the verbal and symbolic marks that the club would like to use that are in doubt.
The argument that the corporation seems to be advancing is that Doc Cavazos stole the marks from the legal owner, which was an unincorporated association called the Mongols Nation. Cavazos first registered those two marks with the patent office and said they belonged to the unincorporated association on October 4, 2002.
The Chain Of Ownership
Then, in 2005 Cavazos transferred ownership of those marks to a corporation he owned called Shotgun Productions. After Cavazos was expelled from the club last August, his successor as Mongols President, Hector “Largo” Gonzalez, “discovered” the transfer and just before the government attempted to take control of the Mongols’ marks – on October 14, 2008 – Gonzalez transferred ownership of those marks back to the Mongols Nation unincorporated association.
Either Gonzalez knew what was coming or he had very good timing. A week later the court ordered that the marks not be transferred again. Gonzalez is a defendant in this case and he has not yet pled guilty to anything. So, he is presumed to be innocent. And, none of what is now happening would be happening if Gonzalez had just done nothing.
But instead, Gonzalez tried to do something smart which the government is now arguing was actually very, very stupid. As the government puts it, “Mongol Nation (through Gonzalez) subsequently transferred the marks in January 2009 (in direct violation of this Court’s restraining order of October 22, 2008) to a newly-formed corporation called Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club.”
And, the reason why this transfer was stupid, according to the government, was not, “the contemptuous act of transferring and assigning the registered marks to Mongols, Inc. in the face of this Court’s order prohibiting it.” No, what was stupid was that both Gonzalez and the Mongols Nation unincorporated association, which up until then could have argued that Doc stole the marks, voluntarily relinquished ownership to a corporation that was not even in existence when the marks were seized on October 22, 2008.
Does The Corporation Own The Marks
Consequently, as of now the only “legal person” who “has standing” to claim ownership of the Mongols marks is the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club, Inc.
And, the problem with them, according to the government, is that the corporation already admitted in court documents filed June 16th, “that it knowingly violated this Court’s Amended Order of October 22, 2008 in accepting the assignment of the Mongols Verbal Mark.” And, what that means, also according to the government, is that the corporation is now incapable of presenting “a viable innocent owner defense.”
So, unless the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club, Inc. or its attorneys can pull a rabbit out of a hat, “the United States Marshal shall forthwith publish once in a newspaper of general circulation notice of ” any orders affecting “the Forfeitable Marks.”
The Mongols corporation or anyone other than Doc Cavazos, who has already given his stake in the club to the Department of Justice, will then have 30 days to “petition the court for a hearing without a jury to adjudicate the validity of (their) alleged interest in the property, and for an amendment of the order of forfeiture.”
And then, unless some lawyer is so brilliant and moving that Judge Cooper reverses herself, the government will begin to “conduct any discovery for the purpose of
identifying, locating, or disposing of property subject to forfeiture.”
That may be, just maybe, the point at which federal agents start going into the residences of “known Mongols” in order to look in their bedroom closets to see what forfeited articles they might be able to find.
Praemonitus, praemunitus. Forewarned is forearmed.