(This story was originally published on October 23 and corrected on October 24, 2009. The corrections are explained in an endnote.)
The dark heart of the Mongols case has always been entrapment.
In several verifiable instances, one or more of the four, male, ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) Agents who patched with the Mongols and the paid undercover informants who assisted the ATF blatantly tried to criminalize the club. And, sometimes Mongols patch holders were caught on electronic surveillance trying to stop this criminalization.
Entrapment is always a problem in cases involving undercover police officers and paid informants. Law professors call it “Conceptual Retributive Entrapment.” Cops call it “making sure the bad guys get what is coming to them.” Whatever you call it, it has become a feature of what at least one legal scholar calls “The Sadistic State.” The way entrapment was used in the Mongols case was worse than that.
In the Mongols case, federal police officers working undercover and paid informants sometimes became actual agents provocateur. Agent provocateur is now almost an antique phrase. Joseph Conrad wrote about one of these spies in his novel The Secret Agent. The French term, agent provocateur, describes a policeman who radicalizes or criminalizes an unpopular group in order to give the government an excuse for punishing that group. The use of agents provocateur is one of the distinguishing characteristics of totalitarianism.
Reasonable men may argue about whether former ATF Agent William Queen acted as an agent provocateur during a previous investigation of the Mongols Motorcycle Club called Operation Ivan. It appears that former ATF Agent Jay Dobyns became an agent provocateur during an investigation of the Hells Angels Motorcycle club called Operation Black Biscuit. Dobyns contrived a murder and tried to make members of his club accessories.
Motorcycle clubs have obvious weaknesses. Motorcycle club members often participate in the underground economy and break many traffic laws. And the same men are loyal to a fault so that loyalty can be exploited. And, another weakness among these men is their unabashed endorsement of traditional masculine virtues.
In its undercover investigations of motorcycle clubs the ATF seems to have been seeking to find the line between what is and is not criminal provocation.
The official policy on entrapment by undercover agents is unambiguously defined. Federal rules have been written and “are imposed to ensure the government does not offer inducements to crime to persons who are not predisposed to do so.”
These inducements are common in bad policing and include, for example: Offering a drug addict drugs for participating in a drug deal; pressuring a small time drug dealer into a large drug deal in order to enhance the consequences of his crime; proposing a crime to a friend on the telephone or in a text message or in an email message and insisting on a reply to create the federal crime of “Using a Communications or Telephonic Device;” and offering a desperately poor or unemployed man a large sum of money to break the law. .
In a memo dated May 30, 2002, then Attorney General John Ashcroft defined a set of procedures that would ensure against entrapment by under cover federal police. According to the procedures set forth in that memo, most of the actions taken by Undercover ATF Agents in Operation Black Rain would have had to have been regularly reviewed and approved by ATF Case Agent John Ciccone in consultation with then United States Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien. Had this been an FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) operation, rather than an ATF investigation, Ciccone and O’Brien would have also been obliged to “consult with the Chairman of the (FBI Headquarters) Criminal Undercover Operations Review Committee…whenever a serious legal, ethical, prosecutive or departmental policy question” arose.
But, the fact is that even though they are both federal police agencies and conduct the same sorts of investigations, the ATF and the FBI are allowed to play by different rules.
For example, “Hollywood” may have been a much less effective cop if he had worked for the FBI.
Kaos was a Mongols patch holder and an agent provocateur.
The story Kaos told the club was that he was a gangster from Wisconsin by way of Chicago. He implied that he was or had been connected to “The Chicago Syndicate,” or as it is sometimes described, “The Chicago Outfit.” The Chicago Syndicate was founded by Al Capone. In 1960, Syndicate boss Sam Giancana fixed the Cook County presidential election to ensure the victory of John F. Kennedy.
Kaos portrayed himself as a tough guy and a cinematic rogue and the motorcycle outlaws to whom he worked to ingratiate himself were seduced.
In a tape recorded conversation Kaos brags, “See. you know what? I used to have shit like that, actually, when I had my own crew. And uh, we weren’t even like, we were…” (Kaos seems to have stammered when he lied. The deeper the lie, the more difficulty he would have getting the lie out of his mouth.) We didn’t have a name, nothing. We were just fucking selling dope. You know? Fucking dope organization.”
The gullible Mongol to whom he was telling this just agreed, “Yeah.” Psychologist call this sort of agreement, token agreement for the sake of being polite, “acquiescence.” Acquiescence is always different from agreement in reality but not always so different legally.
“I call a mother fucker up,” Kaos continued. “Be like, grab a shovel! I’m picking you up in a half hour. I pull up in the dude’s driveway and he’s blocking it with a shovel. And, then he’s mad because I didn’t have a dude in the trunk to bury.”
The nutty and colorful ex-gangster is a cinematic convention. Bruce Willis played a slightly more subtle version of this character in The Whole Nine Yards. And, this conversation was recorded in Las Vegas, where even the Mayor has been rumored to have once been mobbed up.
Over time, Kaos became less colorful and amusing and more annoying. Kaos eventually left the Las Vegas chapter to “visit his sick mother in Chicago.” When he returned he transferred his membership to the Henderson, Nevada Chapter of the Mongols. While a member of that chapter, Kaos introduced a man named “J. Hollywood” to the club. Hollywood was also an agent provocateur.
The 33 Kilo Coke Deal
When the Mongols case jumped into the headlines a year ago, one of most spectacular accusations in the indictment was that:
“On September 18, 2007, in San Bernardino, California, defendants R. Lozano, H. Reynolds and I. Padilla and an unindicted co-conspirator armed themselves with firearms and arranged to purchase 33 kilograms of cocaine with an undercover law enforcement officer and a confidential government informant.”
This page has been looking at this blatantly mendacious transaction for about four months. It clearly seems to have been what federal law calls “subjective entrapment.” The substance that was transacted might have weighed 33 kilos or not. It might have been cocaine but probably was not. And, the transaction comprised an ATF Undercover Agent buying whatever the substance was from another government employee while three Mongols and another man (the unindicted co-conspirator who never had anything to do with the motorcycle club) watched.
For the four men who were not police officers, the 33 kilo coke deal was something between easy money and a favor for a friend. But a year after the fact it became a headline.
And, it was probably not the worst of the undercovers’ theatrics. This page has been led to believe by well informed sources that these agents committed multiple felonies during the investigation including at least one serious felony. The ATF Undercover Agent who staged the bogus coke deal was a patched Mongol known to the Club as “Hollywood.” The same ATF agent provocateur, “Hollywood,” attempted to entrap other members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club in another city, months later, in a similar “major drug deal.”
Kaos, who introduced Hollywood to the Club, served as Sergeant at Arms for the Las Vegas chapter of the Mongols. While a member of the Vegas chapter, Kaos tried to corrupt another participant in the 33 kilo cocaine deal — former Vegas chapter President Harry Reynolds.
Special Agent John “Hollywood” Case
Only one of the ATF Undercover Agents who worked the Mongols case has ever been officially identified. That man is Darrin Kozlowski. Without official confirmation, this page has concluded that the ATF Agent who played the role of Hollywood is a man named John Carr. Carr is the ATF Agent who, on Kaos’ recommendation, was allowed to patch into the Henderson, Nevada chapter of the Mongols without prospecting.
In his memoir titled Under and Alone former ATF Agent William Queen says:
“John Ciccone, in his years targeting the growing OMG” (by which he means Outlaw Motorcycle Gang) “problem in Southern California, had developed a ‘gang’ of his own; ATF Special Agents John Carr, Eric Harden and Darren Kozlowski, fondly referred to as Koz, were the core. They’d all started with the bureau together and, after a decade, remained the hard chargers they’d been at the beginning of their careers.”
Queen acknowledges Carr at the end of his book, with the words, “Thanks to John Ciccone, Darrin Kozlowski, John Carr, Eric Harden, Cleetus and Paul.”
Carr was awarded the Federal Bar Association’s Medal of Valor Award in Los Angeles in 2002. And his commendation, read into the Congressional Record, seems to describe his modus operandi. “Special Agent Carr earned his award for working undercover to catch violent gang members…. Carr transformed his look, acquainted himself with the criminals, and pretended to help them in their operation. Carr gave the criminals false information, which led them to traps planned by the ATF.”
The steps that Kaos and Hollywood, who this page believes to be Carr, took to lead the Mongols into full blown criminality seem to exemplify what grifters call a “long con.”
Before introducing ATF Agent John Carr to the club, Kaos recorded a one hour and 20 minute conversation with Harry Reynolds in September 2006 The conversation took place a full year before the bogus cocaine deal. And, in that conversation Kaos is obviously trying to entice his fellow Mongols into criminality. And, Harry Reynolds keeps trying to straighten out his fellow club officer.
The snatches of conversation that follow are excerpted from that official recording.
Criminalizing A Prospect
Reynolds ordered the talk with his Sergeant At Arms because Kaos was compelling a prospect to participate in criminal activity.
Kaos: What’d I do bro?
Reynolds: (Inaudible) um….
Kaos: That thing with Milo?
Reynolds: Yeah, you hurt my feelings, you both. You…you were treated shitty as a prospect, and he, last week he asked me if this club…if he would ever be asked to do anything illegal. And, I told him no, dude. The club would never make you do anything And then what happens? You take him to do something illegal….
Here Have Some Criminal Proceeds
Reynolds also had to tell Kaos to stop trying to give him proceeds from Kaos’ imagined crimes.
Reynolds: You don’t make money off of them, what you do, you turn around and hand it back to them….
Kaos: Yep, yep, yep.
Reynolds: . . .okay. What did you do that day you came here with an envelope for me? You hand me an envelope?
Reynolds: What’d I do? It ain’t mine.
Reynolds: I don’t make money off you.
Reynolds: You know. If we do something together fine. I…I think that’s wrong. That hurts. That really fucking hurts. Because I think brotherhood and helping each other is first. Not to mention…okay…I might be taking it a little personal, maybe I’m not, I don’t know, but uh…I need a bike. Milo needs a bike. Your bike ain’t tuned too good…
Reynolds: …why is he so, you know what I mean? Hello!
Reynolds: That… I don’t understand that. You know. Nothing can…here first. You’re thinking me, me, me. That’s all you think about! Me, me, me.
Crime In The Name Of The Club
Reynolds then told Kaos that if he insisted on doing something illegal he should at least take his Mongols tee shirt off before he did it so as not to implicate the club in his crimes.
Reynolds: You know what? Mongol no! Mongol no. Not to mention…and this is the other thing I’m bothered with you about…you went to do something that was illegal with your shirt on! You were wearing a support shirt. That makes it a Mongol issue. I’m just pointing it out. I won’t tell them that. But, I’m telling you that. I’m not doing nothing about it. I’m telling you….
Reynolds: So you can think next time. I don’t want to see that shit like that again. Because I…think about it.
Reynolds: (inaudible.) You got a shirt, they ever pull you over…whatever…and they find out? Bam! Okay? They can run your name (inaudible). Oh, you were (inaudible) Mongols. (You say) I don’t know what you, you are talking about. (Cop says) Well you’re wearing that. I know you got that. Now…you fucking…. Now all the house is gonna be ready cause… now you put all of us, and not just you…. Him too! Because you know what? He seen you wearing the shirt! He’s fucking three year fucking
Member. Should be telling you. You shouldn’t be wearing that! What we’re doing, ‘cause I don’t check (inaudible.) When I seen you out here I knew where you were going.
Reynolds: So I can’t say nothing about your shirt, right?
Kaos: Yeah, yeah.
Reynolds: But he did. But he let you. He let you wear his shirt. Now my house is gonna get raided, because of his fucking deal? I don’t fucking think so.
Mongols And Money
Reynolds tries to make excuses for Kaos. The problem, as Reynolds sees it, is that Kaos’ sponsor did not properly school him when he prospected. So, Reynolds tries to tell Kaos what is important and what is not important about belonging to a motorcycle club.
Kaos: Yeah, basically that was my worry. Because I need the money you know?
Reynolds: And I understand that, but you know what Kaos? And, I don’t mean to be disrespectful. Brotherhood is first. Money second.
Reynolds: I could give a fuck about money. Because you know what? When I’m in…laying in the gutter…my brother’s gonna be there. Not, you know…. Money ain’t gonna float up to me.
Reynolds: You know what I mean? And I’m not saying you’re like….
Kaos: But I still gotta pay my bills, bro. You know?
Reynolds: I understand that. But you’d rather (inaudible) with a prospect who was a cool dude and (inaudible)…. I understand bills need to be paid. You know what? I don’t work. She don’t work. But you don’t see me going out there fucking over my brothers, just to make a couple bucks…. Like I said…I…I’m disappointed in you but I don’t blame you because you don’t know your grounds as much. But I’m telling you right now, your grounds are, are a lot, and it’s not me…. I understand you’re worried about losing a deal but you know what? Fuck that deal. Fuck that fucking deal. This is more important, I think. And if you don’t think it’s more important then I can’t teach (inaudible). You know what I mean? This club’s first.
Reynolds: This club is fucking first. I don’t care if I could make a million dollars. If it had anything to do…and I swear to God I mean that…and if it had anything to do with putting my brothers in jeopardy or anything like that I wouldn’t do it. I would not do it. Cause, I (don’t) give a fuck about money. I give a fuck about this club. We’re brothers.
Eventually, Harry Franklin “Face’ Reynolds’ house was raided. He is defendant 51 in the Mongols case. Franklin was indicted by the February 2008 Grand Jury on multiple counts including racketeering. He is one of two defendants currently seeking to sever his case from the racketeering charge the government has used to prosecute other defendants in the case.
This story was originally posted on October 23, 2009 and corrected on October 24, 2009. The original version of this story stated that ATF Special Agent John Case assumed the road name, and was known to the Mongols, as “Kaos.” That detail was incorrect. Case was known to the Mongols as “J. Hollywood.” Kaos was a paid informant who introduced Special Agent Case (Hollywood) to the Henderson Chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle Club. Case was eventually allowed to patch into the chapter without prospecting. Case (Hollywood) was the author of the bogus 33 kilo cocaine deal in San Berdoo. Case also tried to contrive at least one other “major drug deal.” Throughout the investigation, Mongols patch holders were suspicious of both Kaos and “Hollywood” as Mongols had earlier been suspicious of ATF Agent Darrin Koslowski. Shortly before the arrests last October, “Hollywood” was expelled from the club.