Another shoe may be about to drop in the Mongols case.
This case has never been especially about prosecuting certain law breaking individuals. The various recent cases against the Mongols Motorcycle Club have always been about destroying the club and developing a strategy for destroying all motorcycle clubs.
The Mongols “case,” is actually at least four distinct, continuing cases that are all trying to accomplish the same end. They comprise: U.S. versus Cavazos et al. (case number 2:08-cr-01201); U.S. versus eleven named defendants in Colorado (case number 08-cr-00340); US versus Christopher Bryan Ablett (case number 3:09-cr-00749); and a super-secret, Federal Grand Jury proceeding in Reno that appears to be the spawn of an investigation last year called Operation Domino.
This is where our tax dollars go. But, this multi-headed investigation might be about to consume even more of the federal budget than it already has. This page is comfortable at this time with saying there are four ongoing investigations.
Recent events in three of these cases might be interpreted to suggest that another shoe will drop between September 10th and September 21st.
Christopher Ablett was accused last year of shooting and killing Mark “Papa” Guardado. Guardado was the President of the Frisco charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. Ablett eventually turned himself in in Oklahoma, had an initial court appearance last November, then disappeared from the public record for about seven months. After that long, federal pause, Ablett was accused of three federal offenses in an indictment filed on July 23rd.
Ablett is accused of being a member of the “Mongols biker gang…a criminal organization whose members and associates 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.” Most of the Ablett indictment is a reiteration of accusations made against the club in Cavazos et al. and it is not unreasonable to construe the case as a different trying of Cavazos et al. before a different judge.
Ablett is also charged with “murder in aid of racketeering” and two counts of carrying a gun. The racketeering enhancement means Ablett faces the death penalty and if he is convicted he faces a minimum sentence of life in prison.
There were also three sealed cases filed August 18th, August 20th and August 21st in the United States District Court for Colorado by United States Attorney David M. Gauette. The three cases are all titled “in re: Certain Property,” and a usually reliable observer believes that they may be the fruit of a plea deal reached last May with former Colorado Mongol Benjamine Maestas.
Maestas’ plea agreement has been sealed and it has remained sealed despite objections by his fellow defendants. The government opposed publishing the deal on the grounds that to do so “would substantially jeopardize the security and the method of the continuing investigation.” Maestas was scheduled for sentencing on September 10th but 15 days ago the judge in that case, Robert E. Blackburn, continued Maestas sentencing indefinitely.
Meanwhile, yesterday in the big case in Los Angeles, Cavazos et al., Judge Florence-Marie Cooper agreed to “modify the briefing schedule” in the argument about whether or when the United States has to return property that federal and local police have seized from unindicted members and associates of the Mongols Motorcycle Club. That property includes at least one motorcycle, multiple sets of colors and numerous keepsakes and items of memorabilia. In some cases, this personal property was actually stolen.
The Mongols’ attorney in this matter, John W. MacPete had proposed an order that would require that: “None of the non-indicted members of the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club, Inc., or any other third party (other than the immediate family members of the defendants), shall be subject to having their property seized pursuant to this order. Any property previously seized from the non-indicted members of the Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club, Inc., or any other third party (other than the immediate family members of the defendants), shall be returned to such persons within twenty (20) days of this order.”
The government then petitioned the court for more time to prepare a reply to MacPete’s proposed order. The government’s requested delay was “made on the grounds that the Assistant United States Attorney assigned primary responsibility for this matter is currently out of the office on sick leave.” That attorney, Steven R. Welk, then proceeded to explain even more lamely in a separate note to the judge that he did not have time to explain why the stolen property should not be returned because he was too busy with other cases and because he had to attend a junket in Santa Barbara.
Yesterday Judge Cooper allowed Welk a delay until September 14th. With the same piece of paper she delayed any ruling she might make on the proposed order until at least September 21st.
The actual reason for the delay in this most secretive and obtuse case is anybody’s guess. In a free society, little children are told, justice should be transparent. In this case, the government hardly even bothers to pretend it is telling the truth. So observers have to guess at the truth. And, the guess here is that the government is stalling because the prosecutors are hiding cards up their sleeves.