Archie Schaffer Acquitted

September 2, 2009

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Archie Schaffer Jr., president of the Santa Barbara charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club was acquitted today of charges stemming from a road rage incident earlier this year. Schaffer, 35, had been charged with street terrorism, making criminal threats, reckless driving, using a firearm in the commission of a crime and committing a crime for the benefit of the Hells Angels.

The Inciting Incident

Last January 17th, Schaffer was driving his pickup truck north on California Highway 33 near Casitas Springs when he passed a car and allegedly tailgated a female motorcyclist riding in the fast lane. After she pulled to the left, Schaffer was accused of aggressively passing four other motorcyclists.

Two of the motorcyclists, Daniel Davis and Duncan Mardling pursued and overtook Schaffer. Everyone agrees Schaffer was annoyed but witnesses told at least two versions of what happened next.

According to Davis, Schaffer drove away from the bikes, stopped, got out of his truck and made a “pushing action” as if he was trying to “challenge” the bikers “to a fight.”

According to Mardling and another man involved in the incident named David Navarrete, Schaffer asserted his membership in the Angels and threatened them with a gun. Davis told the jury that whatever happened only lasted about “ten seconds.”

The Vendetta

Schaffer’s lawyer, Anthony Zinnanti, called the aftermath of those ten seconds “part of…a grudge match that has been going on for decades” between California police and the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

One policeman who has spent the last eight months trying to build a case against Schaffer and the Angels is Ventura County Sheriff’s “gang unit,” Sergeant William Schierman.

Schaffer was arrested January 30th and compelled to post a $160,000 bond. Ventura Deputies searched Shaffer’s house four times for the gun he allegedly brandished at Mardling and Navarrete. Zinnanti accused the searchers of knocking down doors, terrorizing Schaffer’s family, destroying property and “trophy taking.” During those searches the Sheriffs confiscated the top of a personal printer, a fax machine, a Hells Angels cut, a Hells Angels calendar, personal papers and children’s drawings but never found the gun. Zinnanti also accused the police of placing him under surveillance.

On April 9th, a Ventura Sheriff’s Department Captain named Ross Bonfiglio dismissed Zinnanti’s complaints saying, “I tend to doubt that.”

You Know Why

The charges against Schaffer gave Sheriffs an excuse to search the homes of another 13 members or associates of the motorcycle club in Ventura, Ojai, Oak View, Carpentaria and Santa Barbara. In March the home of a man named Jonathon Ortiz who was suspected of once giving Schaffer a lift was searched.

Ortiz, fearing his mobile home was being burglarized, called 911. His call was transferred to a “gang unit” detective. “He was rude and said I knew why I got searched,” Ortiz told the Ventura County Star. “I said, ‘I have no idea why.'”

As of today all this vigorous police work has yielded nothing except ill will. Before the case went to the jury on Monday, Zinnanti called Sergeant Schierman to the stand and made him testify to that. Schierman was Schaffer’s final defense witness. The Star reported that Schierman looked “surprised.” He should have looked ashamed.

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5 Responses to “Archie Schaffer Acquitted”

  1. sled tramp Says:

    (Didn’t know where else to put this)
    El Cerrito man gets 21 years for slaying in burrito road-rage incident

    A 21-year-old El Cerrito man was sentenced to 21 years in state prison Wednesday for fatally shooting a San Leandro man riding in a Hell’s Angels convoy traveling through Marin County last year.

    Joseph Andrew Farnsworth did not speak during the sentencing hearing, which filled a courtroom with family members and supporters of the 25-year-old victim, William Maclean of San Leandro.

    Maclean was shot during a road rage incident in which a burrito was thrown at the vehicle carrying Farnsworth.

    “I do not understand such rage and anger that would cause the taking of a life,” said Maclean’s grandmother, who declined to give her name. “I don’t understand.”

    Farnsworth’s sentence was determined in advance under a plea bargain with the district attorney’s office. Farnsworth took the deal in August, admitting to charges of voluntary manslaughter and attempted voluntary manslaughter, with penalty enhancements for the use of a gun.

    The plea arrangement precluded Judge Kelly Simmons from adding more prison time, despite pleas from family members to do so.

    “I appreciate that you have suffered a great loss that will always be in your heart,” Simmons told the gallery. “Sadly, I can’t fix that.”

    Farnsworth received nearly 600 days of credit against his prison sentence for time already served since his arrest, plus good conduct in jail.

    As with previous hearings, the courtroom and outer hallway were lined with sheriff’s deputies

    and investigators for extra security, but the 15-minute hearing passed without incident. Members of Farnsworth’s family sat in an isolated section of the gallery’s front row.

    Many of Maclean’s supporters wore Hell’s Angels jackets from various chapters in California, or T-shirts with the victim’s picture. Maclean, described as a Laney College student with an interest in accounting and real estate, was not a member of the motorcycle organization, but he had family and social ties to the group.

    “Twenty-one years for killing someone?” Karen Dewaal of Oakland, a close friend of Maclean’s, said after the hearing. “And this is a known gangbanger shooting from a moving vehicle, and he was hecka loaded when he did it. It was just crazy. He didn’t have any remorse at all.”

    The shooting occurred May 24, 2008, on northbound Highway 101 in Mill Valley, where a red Dodge Durango and a white pickup truck were jockeying during a road rage dispute.

    Farnsworth, a passenger in the Durango, fired a gun at the pickup truck, killing Maclean in the front passenger’s seat. The pickup’s driver, Maclean’s brother-in-law Raymond Foakes, was not hit by gunfire.

    After the Durango escaped and police arrived, it transpired that Maclean was riding in the lead vehicle of a Hells Angels convoy heading north on Highway 101 after a member’s funeral south of San Francisco.

    Foakes, the president of the organization’s Sonoma County chapter, had summoned Maclean for a ride home after his motorcycle broke down.

    Sheriff’s investigators were able to identify the red Durango and track down its driver, Jessica Andrea Gordon, a 22-year-old Mill Valley resident. After contacting Gordon, investigators identified the passengers in the Durango as Farnsworth and his juvenile girlfriend.

    Farnsworth was charged with murder and Gordon was charged with being an accessory, drug possession and other counts. The girlfriend, a Richmond resident, was not charged.

    Gordon was eventually granted immunity in exchange for her cooperation against Farnsworth.

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  2. Not Surprised Says:

    Thanks c8652.

    I carry a weapon not because I am afraid, I carry one because I want the other guy to be afraid. If that makes any sense.

  3. c8652 Says:

    Not Suprised .. good comment and interesting perspective. “Displaying a firearm and giving a verbal warning in the face of a threat like this, is not only not illegal, it is damn good citizenship!”

  4. Not Surprised Says:

    Good article Rebel. Both cyclists testified they were threatened with arrest if they failed to cooperate with the prosecution. Also, after Schaffer drove past them, thus ending the incident, these two guys chased his truck at speeds over 100 MPH.

    Something else very wierd happened. 3/4 of the way through the trial, the DA dismissed some of the charges, commiting a crime for the benfeit of the Hells Angels and commiting a crime by pointing a gun.

    He added reckless driving and “attempted” commision of a crime by pointing a gun. How do you “attempt” to point a gun?

    Schaffer was acquitted of three of the five total charges, and the DA has not yet decided whether or not to retry him on the two charges the jury deadlocked on, so this really isn’t over yet.

    At any rate, no gun was found, but “IF” Schaffer had the lawful right to carry, then certainly any reasonable person could conclude that the approach of two cyclists at speeds of over 100 MPH was an agressive and potentially dangerous move. Displaying a firearm and giving a verbal warning in the face of a threat like this, is not only not illegal, it is damn good citizenship!

  5. Monk Says:

    Another “case” of the Ventura County Sheriffs office over reacting to justify their jobs. They have a history of waisting the taxpayers money on nothing. They spent thousand of man hours making a big deal out of what? Nothing. Double digit search warrants, harrassing familys and children for what? They badgered the witness’s and threatened them with arrest too! The gal that did the 911 call said in court she wished she never called she got harrassed so much. NEVER TALK TO THE POLICE, they will use it against you. Good lawyer. Way to go.

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