Jarhead writes about the Mongols case to say:
“If you cop a plea, it is because you know you ARE guilty and going to trial is going to be a losing situation that will add years to your sentence. If you were innocent you would take it to trial and have the truth speak for itself. Just because you wear a patch doesn’t make you exempt from the bullshit you do in life. These guys don’t deserve any pity.”
Because Jarhead may speak for a number of this page’s readers I decided to put my response to him here rather than in the comments section. I am not trying to ridicule Jarhead by singling him out. I am not trying to “ambush” him. I think he speaks for, at least, a minority of readers so I am going to say what I have to say here.
First of all, everybody is guilty of something. That is how modern law enforcement works. Everybody is guilty and enforcement is selective. Federal law in particular has become radically disconnected from the English Common Law for which our forefathers shed their blood.
Alan Dershowitz, a name you should know, wrote last year that “federal prosecutors are abusing their power by using the criminal law to prosecute law-abiding citizens whose conduct is arguably covered by extremely vague criminal statutes that are capable of reaching acts that are believed to be lawful by those who commit them…. Because federal criminal law carries outrageously high sentences -often with mandatory minimums- these prosecutorial threats are anything but illusory. They turn friends into enemies, family members into government witnesses and employees into stool pigeons…. We are in danger of becoming a society in which prosecutors alone become judges, juries and executioners because the threat of high sentences makes it too costly for even innocent people to resist prosecutorial pressure. That is why nearly all criminal defendants today plead guilty to “reduced” charges rather than risk a trial with draconian sentences in the event of a conviction.”
There is no more egregious example of what Dershowitz describes than the RICO prosecutions of members of motorcycle clubs. And, there is no more flagrant example of that than the federal case US versus Cavazos et al. The Mongols case.
Soviet Style Justice
The Mongols case epitomizes Soviet style justice. And for many months while I covered this case I got something about it fundamentally wrong. I think a lot of bikers of a certain age made the same mistake. I could not understand why so many defendants were pleading guilty to Count One of the indictment which is the racketeering charge. I thought it was dishonorable of them to do that. I thought they were betraying their club. And, I was wrong.
I was wrong. I can’t say it enough. I got that wrong. I apologize. Under George W. Bush, the Department of Justice got much, much worse than I realized. These guys were not up against cops. They were not up against prosecutors. They were up against humanoids.
The entire point of this whole shameful prosecution was to coerce those guilty pleas to Count One and the defendants were largely on their own. Most of the legal defense in this case has danced around the edges of legal malpractice.
Okay, I will cut the lawyers some slack. This is an unprecedented case. This was the Pearl Harbor of motorcycle club cases. A huge, huge component of it was public relations and media manipulation. It took me awhile to figure this out. Some of the defense attorneys did not figure it out until it was too late.
This entire case is a malicious prosecution, for cynical means, by self-righteous and hypocritical government bureaucrats. I do not think that most of the defendants really had any choice but to acquiesce to a guilty plea to Count One.
I know for a fact, for a fact, that there are defendants who pled guilty to Count One who were guilty of no crime other than belonging to a motorcycle club. That was it. That is all they did. I will swear to you that I know this is true. And they took a felony conviction and either the time they had already served or a comparatively short sentence just to get it over with. They took the deal because their choice was get it over with or face 20 years in a federal penitentiary for a RICO conviction. Twenty years.
Twenty years is a big, big jolt. Twenty means a mandatory 16. After 16 years, not only are you not the same guy but nobody even remembers who you used to be.
More Than The Mongols
You need to get your head right on this, partner. This is not about the Mongols. This is not about whether the Mongols are warm and fuzzy or whether they play well with others or about some shit that happened in 1978 or whether some Mongols were rude to me at a swap meet in 1995. This is about RICO. This is about every single club in the United States. And, on this issue the Mongols were first out of the bunker and they took the bullet for everybody. Just the Mongols number, that’s it. Fate.
Fate and let’s also not forget Doc. Doc was not exactly JR Reed, okay?
Mongols defendants are not pleading guilty because they are guilty. Mongols defendants are pleading guilty because defense attorneys have not figured out how to fight these cases yet. Mongols defendants are pleading guilty because their lawyers do not know what else to tell them to do. That’s it. That is the whole game.
I will tell you this, too. There but for the grace of God go I. Any one of these defendants could be me or you. They do not need my pity or yours or anybody else’s. But they do deserve the respect that you give them when you look at this case with your eyes open instead of with your eyes closed.
Keep the faith. Ride safe. Keep your eyes open. Shiny side up. You know the rest.