The longer the Mongols case lasts, the smaller it grows.
Ten months ago militarized police in six states served 160 search warrants and 110 arrest warrants and the United States Attorney in Los Angeles indicted 79 members, associates and former members of the Mongols Motorcycle club for racketeering.
This is what has happened to the 79 accused:
One defendant, Jorge Cottini died and charges against him were dismissed.
Another defendant, Peter “Bouncer” Soto, dedicated himself to a life of religious contemplation shortly before the indictment was unsealed. Soto then cloistered himself in a monastery high in the Andes and so he has not yet learned of the charges that were brought against him.
26 Plea Deals
At least 26 defendants have reached plea and sentencing agreements. In all of these cases the defendants have pled guilty to Count One of the Indictment. That count characterizes the Mongols as a “gang” and a criminal enterprise that was institutionally engaged in murder and drug dealing. The annihilation of the Mongols on the grounds that the club was a racket has, for some time, seemed to have been the whole point of the government’s case. But Florence-Marie Cooper, the presiding judge, has already ruled that the Mongols Motorcycle Club is not a criminal enterprise.
Ruben “Doc” Cavazos and Robert Lawrence “Lars” Wilson III are the only the former members of the club who are known the be actually cooperating with the prosecution in this case. Cavazos is the former President of the club and Wilson was a club member who shared Cavazos’ ambitions.
The following 20 members and former members of the club have pled guilty to the allegation that the Mongols was a criminal enterprise but no evidence or document exists to prove that any of them have cooperated with prosecutors or investigators in any other way. In all of these cases the guilty pleas were blatantly coerced, as courts in Iran and North Korea coerce defendants into confessing to imaginary crimes. The names of these men are: Christopher Loza; John Newman; Denis Maldonado; William Shawley; Juan Nieves; Ricardo Gutierrez; Abram Wedig; Shawn Buss; Ramon Contreras; Ricardo Gutierrez; Juan Alfred Gonzalez; Thomas Savala; Manuel Jimmie Vasquez; Joseph Rudolph Valle; Andres Rodriguez; David Tellez; Roger Martinez; William Ramirez; Samuel Gonzalez; and, John Canales. The plea deals agreed to by these men have all been entered into the public record.
Six Secret Deals
Six plea deals remain secret although the fact that Doc Cavazos is cooperating has been widely reported and has been acknowledged by the government. This page has also published the fact that Wilson is actively cooperating with prosecutors and investigators.
The names of the other four cooperating witnesses remain secret although the names of at least two of them seem to be self-evident. In a ruling entered into the public record on August 11, Judge Cooper refused to unseal the six, secret plea deals.
“In this case, the Court had previously signed orders authorizing the sealing of a limited number of plea agreements entered into between the Government and certain defendants in this multi-defendant conspiracy action,” Judge Cooper wrote.
“In each instance, the application to seal had been accompanied by declarations explaining the grounds for the request. Those declarations, of course, were filed under seal…. Since the filing of this Motion, the Court has reviewed each of those Applications to Seal Plea Agreements and the evidence supporting the need for such confidentiality. Six agreements remain sealed in this case….
“Although many members of the Mongols are currently in custody, the organization operates nationwide, with hundreds of other members still in the community, free to carry out the reported threats.”
Four of the defendants who pled guilty to Count One have already been sentenced.
Juan Manuel Nieves was sentenced on June 22nd to 27 months in prison, two years of supervised release and a fine of $100. William Shawley was sentenced on July 13th to three years probation and fines totaling $3100. Christopher Loza was sentenced that same day to 33 months in prison, 3 years of supervised release and a fine of $100. And, Manuel Jimmie Vasquez was sentenced on July 15th to three years probation and a fine of $100.