The government war to “get” the Mongols Motorcycle Club continues to plumb the dark well into which Thomas Jefferson’s grand idea has fallen.
Much of the evidence in the case is simply fabricated. From the very beginning the architects of this monstrosity, particularly ATF Special Agent John Ciccone and Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Brunwin, cynically intended to hide all the lies in a great forest of lies, as the best place to hide a leaf is in a forest.
The Mongols case was intentionally complicated by splitting it into multiple cases. The main case, US versus Cavazos et al., is complicated by more than 10,000 pages of unsealed court filings, more than 10,000 pages of printed discovery and hundreds of CDs and DVDs of electronic surveillance. It is virtually a full time job to comprehend most of it. It is safe to say that no defense attorney knows all of it. So no judge has seen more than a sample of it. And, the samples shown to the judges have been misleading.
What is Truth
The Mongols case, even the timid and reporter-shy Brunwin and Ciccone would probably agree, has never been an exploration in search of the truth. It has always been an exercise in editing – as any reality television show is always an exercise in editing. No season of Survivor, for example, is ever a documentary about what happened. Reality television never tries to tell the truth. Reality television uses thousands of hours raw footage to try to make a lie look like the truth. Reality television, like this case, is a rigged game.
The television program Gangland, produced by a timid and reporter-shy corporation named Gangland LLC in Chicago, might not even be possible without the enthusiastic cooperation of ATF Assistant Director W. Larry Ford. Ford aspires to be a producer himself someday. Gangland claims to be journalism. In a case titled Tennessee versus Gutierrez the show has refused to turn outtakes over to prosecutors on grounds of journalistic privilege. Gangland LLC has made a very loud and brave show of this.
But multiple Mongols were subject to various degrees of coercion by producers and by ATF Agents to appear in the Gangland episodes “Mongols’ Nation” and “Biker Wars 2.” In fact, three undercover ATF Agents, Darrin “Dirty Dan” Koslowski, Greg “Russo” Giaoni and Paul “Painter” D’Angelo put the idea of appearing on Gangland in Cavazos’ head in the first place.
Why Did Doc Sniff So Much
Cavazos might not have agreed except, according to sources, he was already enfeebled by an endless line of cocaine, regularly replenished by Giaoni and D’Angelo who became famous in the club for the voraciousness of their own appetites. And last month, outtakes from the Mongols Nation episode of Gangland were very quietly introduced into evidence in the Mongols case yet again. They were an edited disk of broadcast and un-broadcast footage. The DVD met the classic definition of propaganda, which is “specific information released to accomplish a specific purpose.” Out of all of the fifty or so reams of documents and two giant binders of CDs and DVDs connected to the case, this is the evidence which a judge is allowed by the prosecutors to see.
The case is a wonder of wonders. The exaggerations, fabrications and other lies in the ATF Reports of Investigation never rise to the level of perjury because they are never actually presented as evidence to a judge or a jury. No one ever compares those reports to their substantiating electronic surveillance so no one ever has the lies made apparent to him. Apparently, the only people who ever looked at the videos were the grand jurors who brought the indictment. And, the transcripts of those grand jury sessions remain sealed so it is impossible to tell. But in many cases those jurors were probably not told that the actual, obvious villains in those staged scenes were ATF Agents and paid informants. The real Mongols were the ones looking annoyed and embarrassed.
One Giant Entrapment
All of Operation Black Rain was conceived to be one giant entrapment. From the start it was a criminal conspiracy by what may someday be called “rogue elements in the Department of Justice.” It has been going on for more than five years and what is truly breathtaking is that the case still hasn’t hit bottom.
The point of the Black Rain criminal conspiracy was always to outlaw a major motorcycle club so as to blueprint a strategy for outlawing all motorcycle clubs. The logical end of this will be the eventual outlawing of politics, religion and art. The depraved bureaucrats who administer punishment in this country have started with motorcycle clubs because, as anyone who has been watching can clearly see, these fools crave glory even more than power. What all these liars, cowards and cheats dream is to be applauded as mythic heroes. So first thing. they needed to find themselves some mythic villains. Which is where the Mongols unwittingly entered the play.
Doc Cavazos’ weaknesses made the Mongols the most vulnerable of all the famous clubs. The ATF had already infiltrated the Mongols once so the Bureau did not have to learn everything from the start as they might have had to do with, say, the Bandidos. The Mongols were right in John Ciccone’s backyard. And, more than anyone it seems to be the timid and nasty Ciccone who dreams of being a hero.
The Mongols prosecution has had two preeminent goals: The first was to “prove” that the Mongols Motorcycle Club is a criminal racket, like the Cali Cartel, and the second has been to make possession of Mongols paraphernalia and insignia a de facto crime. Ciccone and Brunwin have stuck to those goals as obsessively as an autistic savant and they have been rewarded with what they can now claim to be total success.
Brunwin goes about bragging shamelessly that at least seventy Mongols “have entered guilty pleas to Count One of the indictment. As those pleas amply demonstrate, the defendants in this case are (or were, during the relevant period) members of an organization that for decades engaged in, among other things, murder, conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, assault, conspiracy to traffic in narcotics, narcotics-trafficking, robbery, extortion, money laundering, and witness intimidation.”
All of these confessions were coerced by Orwellian means. Some defendants might have really done what they were accused of doing but typically they were entrapped into committing an actual crime or just as often they were entrapped into the appearance of a crime. They were secretly indicted and then they were immediately punished. They were punished with grotesque public shaming, the seizure and destruction of their property and their relatives property and their friends property, the wrecking of their homes, the loss of their jobs, the ruination of their reputations and the terrorization of their wives, children, parents and friends. None of this punishment was at all incidental to the administration of justice. It was cynically and self-righteously calculated to be punishment. Then most of these presumably innocent men were confronted by Special Agent Ciccone, hiding from the television cameras before which they had just been paraded, asking “You want to talk to me?” Then all these accused got their initial court appearances.
Most of the accused were denied adequate council. Typically, the public defenders told their clients, “You’re a member of the Mongols motorcycle gang. What do you expect?” Everyday in every way the defendants were told they would never get a fair trial. Brunwin and other prosecutors cynically sealed parts of the case to try to unnerve as many defendants as possible. Eventually these condemned men were pressured into taking a deal. The deal was either confess to racketeering and be punished for something less or tell the truth and be sentenced for racketeering. So everybody except Hector Gonzalez, Jr., who was briefly President of the club, took the deal.
Then, having confessed, they were punished again. Sometimes the punishment was only the punishment they had already received and sometimes it was years more in prison. In most cases, the punishment included the indignity of supervised probation. In all these cases Brunwin got the “proof” he could not have otherwise obtained.
Of course the Mongols are a criminal racket! They have to be! They all confessed to me!
Making Symbols A Crime
Brunwin and Ciccone’s second goal, to make possession of Mongols symbols a de facto crime will enter a new phase this week. Criminalizing the Mongols patch provides more shortcuts around the Constitution and the issue should have been settled a year ago when the late Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ruled that symbols peculiar to the Mongols were “collective membership marks” and as such they were “protected speech” as the Christian cross is protected speech. But then Judge Cooper died so Brunwin raised the issue again with a new judge, Otis Wright II. The evidence the government showed this judge included the re-edited Gangland footage. And this time Brunwin won.
Former Mongols President Ruben “Doc” Cavazos trademarked the Mongols insignia in the name of a corporation he owned. Cavazos agreed to his own plea deal in January, 2009. Most of that deal remains secret because Brunwin enjoys the strategic advantage of official secrets. What is known about the deal is that Cavazos confessed that the Mongols is a criminal racket and he agreed that he owns the Mongols trademarks and that he would forfeit them to the government.
That part of that plea deal should have been obviated because at the time he made the deal Cavazos had no rights to the marks. He never had rights to the marks he trademarked. His trademark was invalid. Unfortunately, Judge Wright seems not to have a subtle mind.
Brunwin and his running dog, Frank D. Kortum of the Asset Forfeiture Division of the US Attorney’s Office, told Judge Wright, in essence, that Cavazos did not have to own the Mongols patch to forfeit it and Wright agreed. On June 15, Wright ordered that, “All right, title, and interest of RUBEN CAVAZOS in the Forfeitable Marks (the Mongols name and patch) is hereby forfeited to the United States.”
It would be a very minor bit of legal housekeeping except that the Judge then describes the Mongols patch and name as the marks to be seized and authorizes the search for and seizure of these marks. Taken to its logical absurdity, the order now once more authorizes the confiscation of Mongols patches on sight.
Judge Wright’s order also instructs “The United States…to the extent practicable, provide written notice to any person known to have an alleged interest in the Forfeitable Property.” The ruling would have required the prosecutors to formally notify the Mongols Motorcycle Club of the ruling and allows the club until Thursday, July 15th to contest the government’s ownership claim.
Nothing should change between now and this Friday. Probably nothing will change. But if something does change it will be because once again the government has cheated.