The government’s argument for the legality of outlawing fraternal, legal and social organizations is most frankly summarized in three documents filed in the case US v. Cavazos et al. The government is accusing the Mongols Motorcycle Club of being a “racket” and that accusation constitutes about half the proof. The other half of the proof is that former Mongols President Ruben “Doc” Cavazos has been blackmailed into acquiescing with that accusation.
Following are excerpts from those three documents.
Cavazos Plea Hearing held on January 23, 2009
Christopher Brunwin to Judge Florence-Marie Cooper:
Your Honor, briefly, the government has moved to file the plea agreement in this matter under seal and, for the same reasons set forth in the government’s application to file the plea agreement under seal, the government would also request that these pleadings be under seal and the transcript of these proceedings also be under seal.
As well as entry on the docket.
I believe there is no one in the courtroom other than people who have been cleared by both sides. Am I right?
Federal Public Defender Angel Navarro:
And I believe we’re (the doors are) locked.
Later Judge Cooper to Cavazos:
…later in the plea agreement we’ll talk about the fact that the government might make a motion based on your assistance and cooperation to reduce the sentence; and it could even be reduced below the mandatory minimum. But that’s up to the government; that’s not up to the court. And absent that kind of motion, I will be obligated to give you at least ten years in prison for these two counts. Do you understand that, sir?
All right. There’s a very detailed factual basis for the plea laid out over a series of pages in this agreement…. You have agreed in this plea agreement to cooperate fully with the United States Attorney’s Office; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and any other federal or other law enforcement agency; to answer their questions, to attend meetings, cooperate and assist them. You’ve also agreed to forfeit all right, title, and interest in the assets acquired or maintained by you as a result of these two offenses to which you’re pleading, particularly the trademark or service mark “Mongols” and to waive any challenges to the forfeiture of those assets. At the time of sentencing, the government will move to dismiss the other counts of the Indictment against you. And if the government decides that you have, in fact, provided substantial assistance, it may then move the court, under 5K1.1, to reduce your sentence. In any event, the government will recommend that you be sentenced at the low end of whatever the guideline range turns out to be.
Later Judge Cooper to Cavazos:
Okay. Can you explain in your own words what you did that makes you guilty of these offenses?
Umm, I was the president of the Mongols Motorcycle Club while its members committed some of these crimes.
Okay. And you knew about them at the time?
And participated in an agreement that those crimes would be committed?
Cavazos Declaration From June 9, 2010
I, Ruben Cavazos, declare:
I am the lead defendant in United States v. Cavazos. The facts stated herein are based on my personal knowledge and, if called to do so, I could and would testify competently thereto.
Beginning in approximately 1996, I was a member of the Mongols (the “Mongols”) which is described in the indictment in the above-captioned action. The Mongols was comprised of “chapters” located in different geographical regions, although most were located within the Central District of California. In 2008, the Mongols also had chapters in other parts of California, as well as in Oklahoma, Florida, Nevada, Oregon, Maryland, Virginia, Indiana, New York, Utah, Washington, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Mexico and Canada.
From 2002 until the summer of 2008, I was the national President of the Mongols. During that time, the leadership and governing body of the Mongols was its “Mother Chapter,” of which I was also the President. As national President and President of the Mother Chapter, I exercised direct authority and control over the actions of individual Mongols members and the regional chapters. The Mother Chapter collected and reviewed all membership applications and fees for membership and resolved disputes within the organization.
While I was national President of the Mongols, I was personally responsible for obtaining federal registration of the following collective membership marks:
a) The trademark assigned Registration No. 3076731 (serial no. 78610213) and all rights and privileges appurtenant thereto, issued to Mongol Nation on or about April 4, 2006, purportedly for use in commerce in connection with promoting the interests of persons interested in the recreation of riding motorcycles. This mark is a drawing of a motorcycle with rider holding a sword and resembling a Genghis Khan type figure wearing sunglasses with a pony tail on top of the head, and is referred to herein as the “symbolic mark”.
b) The trademark assigned Registration No. 2916965 (serial no. 76532713) and all rights and privileges appurtenant thereto, issued to Mongol Nation on or about January 11,2005, purportedly for use in commerce in connection with promoting the interests of persons interested in the recreation of riding motorcycles. This mark consists of the word “Mongols,” and is referred to herein as the “verbal mark.”
On or about July 21, 2003, I applied through private counsel to the United States Patent & Trademark Office (“PTO”) to register the word “Mongols” (the verbal mark) as a collective membership mark. I subsequently applied, again through counsel, for registration of the symbolic mark. In support of the applications, I explained that the marks had been adopted by the Mongols as a symbol of membership in the organization.
I further stated, in pertinent part: The only persons entitled to use or display the mark are Members in good standing of the [Mongols]. The mark is displayed on a membership card given to a member … at the time membership is granted. The [Mongols] control the use of the mark by members in the following manner: An applicant for membership in the [Mongols], following completion of all requirements for initiation and membership, receives the membership patch …. [T]he membership patch can only be worn by a member. …
I sought the registration of the marks in order to ensure that I and the Mongols could prevent others from using our name and symbol. The officers of 1 the Mother Chapter subsequently agreed that, in order to further ensure the protection of the marks from usage by others, the marks should be assigned to Shotgun Productions, LLC, a corporation that I owned and controlled. The transfer of the marks to my sole control as property of Shotgun Productions in April 2008 was carried out with the full knowledge and consent of the leadership of the Mongols, who were responsible for making decisions for the enterprise. I incorporated and utilized Shotgun Productions at all times for my personal use and benefit. Neither the other officers of the Mother Chapter nor any members of the Mongols had any control over or participation in the creation or operation of Shotgun Productions.
I made no further assignments of the marks. I obtained and maintained the above-described registrations as part of my operation, control, and participation in the Mongols as described in the indictment. In addition to identifying Mongols members to each other, the marks identify members to the general public and members of other outlaw motorcycle groups. The top rocker patch (bearing the verbal mark) and center patch (bearing the symbolic mark) were issued only to members, as were other patches bearing all or part of the registered marks.
I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed this ninth day of June, 2010 in the Central District of California.
Government Counter-motion Filed August 23, 2010
…Mongols Nation Motorcycle Club, Inc. (“MNMC” or “Petitioner”), the most recent iteration of the self-professed “outlaw” motorcycle gang of “one-percenters”: argues an inapplicable legal standard; utterly ignores the correct legal standard; disregards material undisputed facts and judicial admissions that it has made in previous filings; and ignores virtually all of the authority set out in the government’s moving papers.
The government’s motion should be granted because Petitioner is incapable as a matter of law of prevailing on its claim given the overwhelming and undisputed evidence that (1) it acquired its rights in the Marks well after the commission of the acts giving rise to forfeiture; (2) it was not a bona fide purchaser for value of that interest; and (3) it had actual knowledge at the time of its acquisition of the interest that the government was seeking the Marks’ forfeiture. An ancillary petition may be dismissed without a hearing where the government demonstrates that the petitioner cannot prevail as a matter of law.
…If Cavazos had the actual authority to register the Marks as national president of the Mongols — and Petitioner admits that he did — he clearly had at least the apparent authority thereafter to assign them to Shotgun Productions while still president of the association, regardless of Gonzalez’s later statement that he did not. In each of the referenced filings, the president of the gang acted through counsel in his official capacity and submitted a sworn declaration to the (United States Patent and Trademark Office) USPTO. A third party reviewing the USPTO filings with respect to the Marks would reasonably conclude that all of Cavazos’s actions with respect to the Marks were pursuant to his authority as president of the gang, and the Mongols are bound by the actions taken by Cavazos within the scope of his apparent authority. It is significant that Petitioner cites no legal authority whatsoever in support of its argument that the assignment of the Marks to Shotgun Productions can be ignored. Instead, it relies entirely upon its own conclusory legal argument in its petition. That is not enough to avoid dismissal. As the government noted in its moving papers, a court need not “swallow the [petitioner’s] invective hook, line and sinker; bald assertions, unsupported conclusions, periphrastic circumlocutions, and the like need not be credited.”
…Finally, Petitioner’s arguments that it has enjoyed continuous ownership of the Marks since 1969 and that MNMC, the current titleholder of the Marks, acquired its interest by operation of law when it incorporated in December 2008, are belied by its own actions and evidence, as well as applicable law. The October 2008 assignment of the Marks back to the association demonstrates that even the gang believed that the Shotgun Productions assignment was legally binding. More importantly, however, in January 2009, approximately two months after the incorporation of MNMC, the Mongols effected another assignment — this time from the association to MNMC.
…At several points in its memorandum, Petitioner attempts to support his argument by relying upon the July 31, 2009 Order entered in the civil action entitled Rivera v. Carter. As explained in the government’s moving papers, that civil action is being prosecuted by a Mongols gang member who is not a defendant in this case and claims no ownership interest in the Marks. The referenced order involved the determination of whether the plaintiff in that case should be granted immunity from those portions of the October 2008 Amended Order allowing the government to seize items bearing the Marks from non-defendants. The court in that case (Judge Cooper) made a number of findings based on an incomplete record, including a finding that the Marks were not subject to criminal forfeiture, an issue that was not before it in the civil case and which it should not have determined.
…The Court has already determined that the Marks are subject to forfeiture in issuing the June 15, 2010 Preliminary Order of Forfeiture. The only matter left to be determined before the entry of a Final Order of Forfeiture is the adjudication of Petitioner’s purported third-party interest. For the reasons explained above, Petitioner cannot state a justiciable claim under 18 U.S.C. § 1963(l). The government is entitled to judgment against MNMC on its petition, and respectfully requests that MNMC’s petition be dismissed with prejudice.
ANDRÉ BIROTTE JR.
United States Attorney
ROBERT E. DUGDALE
Assistant United States Attorney
Chief, Criminal Division