Mongols Trial Delayed Again

November 11, 2009

All Posts, News

The trial of the remaining defendants in the Mongols Motorcycle Club case is about to be delayed again for the third time. The trial was originally scheduled for December 16th, 2008; was continued until July 21st, 2009; then postponed until November 24th 2009; and will now probably be postponed again until April 13th, 2010.

Seventy-nine members and associates of the Mongols were indicted on October 9th, 2008. One of the accused, Peter Soto, has not yet been arraigned. Jorge Cottini died in custody. At least fifty-four defendants have entered into plea and sentencing agreements with the Department of Justice. All but one of those men have pled guilty to Count One of the indictment, which identifies the Mongols as a racketeering enterprise. Six of the confessed racketeers are believed to be cooperating with the prosecution.  At least one defendant, Harry Reynolds, is seeking to be tried separately.

Twenty-one defendants remain. Those men are: Hector Gonzalez, Anthony Tinoco, Michael Bill Munz, Robert Rios, Manuel Armendarez, Mark Garcia, Jorge Vuramontes, Horacio Ponce, William Owens, Ismael Rivera, Ismael Padilla, Felix Figueroa, Jon Jay Morein, Alessandro Lopez, Manuel Melgoza, Renato Gomez, Alfonso Solis, David Padilla, Thomas Alarcon, Jose Morales and Lance Eustice.


The motion requesting the delay was made by all the remaining defendants as well as United States Attorneys George S. Cardona, Christine C. Ewell, Christopher Brunwin and Reema El-Amamy. The motion complains that the trial can not proceed this month because, “The government has produced discovery to the defense including over 8,000 pages of documents and 400 instances of electronic surveillance as well as numerous recordings of intercepted phone calls.”

The defense attorneys also argue that, “Due to the nature of the prosecution and the number of defendants, this case is so unusual and so complex that it is unreasonable to expect adequate preparation for pretrial proceedings or for trial itself within the Speedy Trial Act time limits.”

The numbers stated in this motion seem to betray the continuation of the government investigation of the Mongols in the 13 months since the indictment was issued. In official court papers in the autumn of 2008, defense attorneys complain of 3,000 pages of discovery. Last Spring defense attorneys were confronted by 4,000 pages. Now they are confronted by 8,000 pages.

It is also reasonable to wonder out loud if the government would not prefer to keep the undercover ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) Agents who made this case off the witness stand. The last headline-making case the ATF prosecuted was the fruit of an undercover investigation called “Operation Black Biscuit.” That case was long delayed and largely fell apart because the ATF Agents who investigated the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in Arizona, Anthony Jay Dobyns and Jenna McGuire, were widely rumored to have engaged in unethical and possibly illegal conduct. The government was clearly afraid that the evidence the two agents had gathered might be impeached.

What It Means

The current presiding judge in this trial, Florence-Marie Cooper, will retire on March 15th, 2010, a month after she turns 70-years-old. If she grants the motion for a continuance, she will be effectively taking herself out of the case. And, that might be to the greater delight of the prosecution than the defense. It is hard to see how the Mongols defendants could ask for a better judge.

Cooper is a surprisingly pretty, kind, soft-spoken, bright and matronly woman. She is almost religiously patient with the slow motion circus of American law and she seems to do, at the least, a very good imitation of a judge being fair.

And, she is admirably common. She may be the only sitting Federal judge who never graduated from college. She slogged through five years of night school at San Francisco City College but never got her degree. She worked as a secretary in a law firm before going to what was then Beverly Law School and is now Whittier College of Law as part of a special program for bright people who lacked college diplomas.

Judge Cooper is the woman who ruled that the Mongols, rather than the government, owns the Mongols name and patch and over the last year she seems to have looked skeptically at many elements of the prosecution’s case. The next judge may be more easily impressed by biker stereotypes.

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14 Responses to “Mongols Trial Delayed Again”

  1. Bystander Says:

    Judge Cooper does seem to be a very fair person. I believe it would be bad for the remaining defendants to not have their cases brought before her. I know of two defendants personally who stood before her. When the prosecutor was asked how long he recommended for these defendants, he stated 25 years for one and life for the other. Judge Cooper looked directly at each defendant and said “Don’t worry Mr. ….., you are NOT going to do 25 (life) in prison… (pointing her finger to her chest) she continued …”I decide how much time you get, not the prosecutor!!” Emphasis on “I”. She also shows contempt for the actions of the ATF. Whether she presides over the remainder of the Mongols case or not, she will still go into history. Very wise woman indeed.

  2. sled tramp Says:


  3. Observer Says:

    It kinda sucks that this thing can’t just get on and over with, but at the same time, the Mongols deffinately need all their ducks in a row. They’re gonna win this case and make damn sure that Jorge “House” Cottini didn’t pass on for nothing.

  4. Luluraider Says:

    I finally saw Judge Cooper on Friday…she is a righteous lady. Any idea on who will take over her case load?

  5. Rebel Says:

    Dear Luluraider,

    Not a clue.


  6. Joe Says:

    is it true that the US Attorney has issued a statement that the members of the Mongols MC can wear their patches without worrying about some law enforcement officer demanding that the member remove it and turn it over to him ?

  7. Rebel Says:

    Dear Joe,

    No. In an exhibit to an attachment to a motion, federal forfeiture attorney Steven R. Welk states that:

    “Within days of the issuance of this Court’s July 31, 2009 Order Granting Preliminary Injunction in the action entitled Rivera v. Carter…I instructed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to suspend execution of the seizure authority of items bearing the trademarks restrained in this Court’s Amended Order Restraining Trademark issued October 22, 2008 as against individuals who are not defendants in this action. I have been informed by ATF that national enforcement of the seizure provisions of the Amended Order as against non-defendants was suspended in early August of 2009 and shall remain suspended pending further instructions from my office. I will not instruct any law enforcement agency to resume seizure activities against non-defendants pursuant to the Amended Order without a further order from this Court.”

    Nothing has actually changed since August. I have been told by numerous informed observers that the Mongols will start wearing the patch again very soon.

    your pal,

  8. Not Surprised Says:

    Judges at the Federal level are, in their minds, destined for one of two career paths:

    1. Court Of Appeals, Supreme Court or some elected office such as State Attorney General.

    2. Retire with a fair pension, do some private consulting and kick back.

    Cooper has opted for the second course of action. Since Federal Judges are appointed for life, they have a certain “license” they can take.
    You do not want to be a prosecutor or US Attorney on the bad side of a Federal Judge, believe me.

    Judge Cooper probably wishes she could stay on to finish this case. I bet she really does. But when a sitting Federal Judge resigns or retires, they are asked to sign a non-negotiable time table so there is ample opportunity to bring the new person up to speed and it is unfortunate for those cases caught in the middle.

    Obama knows who will replace her. She probably knows too. But a Senate confirmation has to be had, and a straw vote has probably already been done.

    The last few months of a Federal Judge will be the ones most scrutinized. Just like the last few months of Bill Clinton’s presidency, he pardoned some seriously questionable people, most likely for cash. He has that right.

    Cooper will be 100% by the book while at the same time, keeping a watch on her “enemies” and these Federal Judges who stay for 5, 10, 15 years make a LOT of enemies. ATF seems to be one of those enemies who probably will be glad to see her go.

    But she will probably wrap up the trademark deal before she goes, leave good solid case notes (part of the court record) on what has taken place so far and her recommendations, etc. Whatever rulings she does make, even if it is the last minute of her last hour, cannot be revoked except by appeal.

    You can expect to see some huge power plays from both sides, but Cooper sees all this coming a mile away.he last one was when the Government had the audacity to state she was “hasty” in her rulings about overturning the consent order telling the Feds to fuck of………

    You dont do that with a federal Judge you will have to face for 5 more years….

  9. JAMES Says:

    JUDGE COOPER in my book has been has been fair, and hopefully she can put an end to all this before she leaves her post.But to be tuthful about my thoughts, I believe the FEDS. will continue to do all they can to shut the MONGOLS M.C. down along with all the CLUBS, and anyone who thinks they will not keep trying is only fooling themselves.With what is happening with the PAGANS M.C. at this time I believe they are being setup for this same tactic, I wish all CLUBS no matter who they may be good luck in the future when having these types of charges thrown at them.And to REBEL,thank you for taking the time and effort to publish the articles you put on your site as they are far more imformative than any I have read.

  10. JAMES Says:

    To those in question as to when the MONGOLS M.C. will start to fly their patches? you will start seeing them now.

  11. Not Surprised Says:

    Thanks, James…..

  12. THEONE Says:



    Was posted on the 13the when the colors would fly
    respect, Steve

  14. Gusto Says:

    good job friends!!! fight for what you love!!

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