This page has been unable to confirm the latest headline in the never ending Mongols case U.S. versus Cavazos et al.
Greg Risling, a reporter for the Associated Press in Los Angeles reported on September 14 that disgraced, former Mongols Motorcycle Club President Ruben “Doc” Cavazos had been sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. Risling’s story has now run in most newspapers in the English speaking world. In most of those papers, the headline above the story began with the words, “AP Exclusive.”
This page believes that exclusive access to secret federal court proceedings is the equivalent of auctioning off the naming rights to the buildings in which federal trials are held.
The AP Report
Risling named no sources for the length of the sentence. In his report, Risling stated that, “only after repeated prodding by The Associated Press to reveal the sentence did U.S. District Judge Otis Wright relay Tuesday via federal prosecutors that he sent Cavazos to prison for 14 years. No other details were given.” Judge Wright was assigned about half of the Mongols cases, including those of Doc Cavazos and his son, Ruben “Lil Rubes” Cavazos after the unexpected death of the late Honorable Florence Marie Cooper on January 14, 2010.
Risling did not respond to an email from this page.
In his report, Risling quoted Michael Brennan, a law professor at the University of Southern California, who thought the public had a right to know what happens in federal courtrooms. As a responsible opposing view on the side of secret justice, Risling also quoted the Honorable Audrey Collins, Chief Justice for the Central District Court (and in a broad way Judge Wright’s boss) who said, “I know this case involved some dangerous people.” Risling did not explore how Judge Collins could possibly know that.
However, The Aging Rebel agrees with Judge Collins’ statement. This case did involve “some dangerous people.”
One thing that is clearly more dangerous to the Republic than the Mongols defendants is the official conduct that characterized the investigation of them, the continued secrecy of the federal courts and the scoop mentality of the Associated Press.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has blatantly manipulated press coverage of Cavazos et al. and the undercover investigation, eventually “code named” Operation Black Rain, that formed the basis for the case.
The ATF allowed “special access” to the Fox television show America’s Most Wanted in order to prejudice any chance the defendants might have had for a fair and impartial trial. Immediately after Judge Cooper’s death, John Torres, Field Agent in charge of the Los Angeles Office of ATF in Glendale granted exclusive access to a reporter for the Pasadena Star-News and the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. She reported that Judge Cooper’s death would give the prosecution in the Mongols case another chance to redefine constitutionally protected speech. Yesterday, those two newspapers played Risling’s report on their front pages.
The Propaganda Disease
While the undercover investigation was unfolding, the ATF enlisted as allies several people and institutions the public should be able to trust.
The William Morrow publishing company, became the publisher of an ATF instigated autobiography by Doc Cavazos. The autobiography was used as an intelligence gathering tool and to make Doc Cavazos and the Mongols as large an ATF trophy as possible. Statements and photographs from the book were later introduced as evidence against defendants in the Mongols case. William Morrow has also ignored repeated requests for comment from The Aging Rebel. For most of its publishing history, profits from the autobiography titled Honor Few, Fear None have been reaped by the Department of Justice.
The Discovery Networks’ series Gangland, was also recruited by the ATF. The series, which in at least one case in Tennessee tried to claim journalistic privilege, produced the episode “Mongol Nation” at the instigation of the ATF. Both Doc and Lil Rubes Cavazos appeared in the episode and urged other Mongols to appear too. During the slow unfolding of the Cavazos case, outtakes from the episode have been entered into evidence in federal court.
The ATF propaganda disease has now spread to both the federal courts and The Associated Press. The presumptive source of Greg Risling’s report is federal prosecutor Christopher Brunwin. Brunwin’s motives for releasing this information are obscure. It is doubtful that he has the public’s best interests at heart.
Blinding White Light
As of Friday, September 16, 2011 there have been 91 official filings in the Mongols case since June 19. Thirty-nine of those filings, 42 percent of the recent action in this federal court case, including virtually all filings pertaining to three cooperating defendants (Robert Lawrence “Lars” Wilson III and Doc and Lil Rubes Cavazos) are sealed. There is no public explanation of why these filings must be secret. There does not need to be because the reasons are clear. The Mongols case remains largely secret to avoid official embarrassment and to protect lucrative government careers.
In January 2009, shortly after taking office, President Barack Obama wrote, “A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, ‘sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.’”
After making this gesture the President ignored the issue. The recent ATF scandal about another undercover operation, this one called “Fast and Furious” illustrates the Bureau’s terror of sunlight. In that matter, the ATF ignored CBS News, which has significantly greater resources than this site, and tried to ignore Congress.
It is now time to expose another potential ATF scandal to the light
Hitman Martin’s Murder
One source of potential official embarrassment for the ATF, the Department of Justice and some of the personalities directly involved in the Mongols case is the manner in which the end of the Mongols investigation coincided with the murder of a Mongol named Manuel Vincent “Hitman” Martin.
Martin died in the early morning hours of October 8, 2008 as he rode his motorcycle on the transition road between the Foothill and Glendale Freeways. A “dark colored car” in the next lane pulled up behind Martin and opened fire. Only a very skilled or a very lucky assassin can hit a moving motorcycle from a moving car.
Hitman glanced back, with his sleepy eyes wide and his chin up, and when he did a look of recognition flashed across his often impassive face. The shooting lasted, probably, three seconds and a total of eleven shots were fired. Martin’s motorcycle was shot five times before he managed to pull the bike to a slow and controlled stop on the narrow shoulder of the transition road.
Martin, true to character, was remarkably graceful and composed for a man who had just been shot at. Then after he stopped, after he put his feet down but before he could climb off his bike, Manuel Vincent Hitman Martin fell over dead. He had been shot once in the chest. Which means that when he looked back he was looking at the man who killed him.
This page has been investigating Martin’s murder for more than two years. Martin, a father of two girls who did not drink, smoke or consume drugs, was 30-years-old, tough and fearless. He looked dangerous. He owned what Doc Cavazos called a “war face.”
Martin could, in fact, be dangerous. At the time of his death he was carrying a loaded gun. As ATF agents working the Mongols case knew, Martin had stabbed a Hells Angel the previous summer near the interchange of the 405 and the 118 Freeways in the western end of the San Fernando Valley. Until now, that stabbing has never been reported.
But the ATF agents working undercover on the Mongols investigation in Los Angeles, the agent in charge of the investigation and the prosecutor supervising the investigation all knew of the stabbing. The five also knew of other violent episodes by other Mongols. And, all five men could reasonably claim to fear what might happen to the undercovers if Martin learned who they actually were.
It was an unreasonable fear. None of the agents acted afraid. The agents were never actually in danger. But the potential for violence does qualify as a motive. It is a more cogent motive than can be found in most of the accusations against defendants in the Mongols case.
The three undercover ATF agents were Gregory “Russo” Giaoni, Paul “Painter” D’Angelo and Darrin “Dirty Dan” Kozlowski. They were all patched members of the Mongols Cypress park chapter. Kozlowski, who had previously investigated the Vagos, the Sons of Silence and the Warlocks was the senior undercover. The case agent was John Ciccone. The supervising prosecutor was Christopher Brunwin.
Whether the putative motive was reasonable or not, according to multiple, plausible sources who spoke on conditions of anonymity, at least two of the undercovers, Gaioni and D’Angelo, had begun to abuse methamphetamine. And one early consequence of methamphetamine abuse is paranoia. Another common symptom of methamphetamine abuse is impulsive violence.
The evening of October 7, 2008 all three undercovers rode to a party at a bar called The Mix at 2612 Honolulu Avenue in Montrose with Martin who was a member of the Hollywood chapter. All four men wore their colors to the party so there was no evidence that any of them feared violence at the hands of enemies of the club. The party was also attended by members of the 311 Motorcycle Club. They are widely known to have a friendly relationship with the Mongols and they all, also, wore their colors.
At the time there was considerable tension between the Mongols and the Hells Angels. The day before, a Mongol named Christopher Bryan “Stoney” Ablett had surrendered to authorities in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Ablett was, and remains, a suspect in the murder of Hells Angels San Francisco Charter President Mark Papa Guardado. Press accounts after Martin’s murder played up the violence between the two motorcycle clubs.
Statements made on this page by Ciccone, using the alias T-Dogg, can also be reasonably construed as a cynical attempt to provoke antagonism between the Mongols and the Hells Angels.
An ATF Report of Investigation, dated as if written in September also said Mongols had been warned to not publically wear their colors because of possible attacks by the so-called Mexican Mafia. The report was attributed to Kozlowski. This page believes but is unable to prove that the report was actually written by John Ciccone after Martin’s murder. Ciccone was the actual author of numerous ROIs attributed to undercover agents using the rationale that the undercovers were too swamped with their undercover duties to do paperwork.
The Mongols had been engaged in a violent conflict with La Eme for several years. The Mongols are a predominantly, but not exclusively, Xicano club. One element of the conflict was whether La Eme could “tax white people.” The ongoing conflict with La Eme was one of the reasons why Doc Cavazos was voted out bad from the Mongols at the end of August. Multiple, plausible sources, including at least one ATF ROI, have stated that a truce had been arranged between the Eme and the Mongols before October 7, 2008. Kozlowski certainly behaved that night as if he had not read his warning not wear colors.
Concurrent with Operation Black Rain, multiple federal police forces including the DEA and the ATF were carrying out an investigation of a Glendale area street clique named Toonerville Rifa 13. The clique is named for the old Toonerville neighborhood in Los Angeles, which in turn is named for an even older newspaper comic strip. As the final digits of the name imply, Toonerville is widely believed to be associated with La Eme. The investigation included wiretaps. The wiretaps were active on the evening of October 7, 2008. Brunwin, Ciccone, Kozlowski, Gaioni and D’Angelo all knew of the Toonerville investigation and the wiretaps.
The ATF agents also occupied a safe house about a mile from The Mix. The safe house was completely surveilled by hidden cameras and microphones. A glass table in the rear of the house was often covered with methamphetamine. The agents, according to multiple sources who spoke on condition of anonymity, concealed their own methamphetamine abuse by sniffing the drug from opaque decongestant bottles.
That safe house, in turn, was less than three miles from the Glendale headquarters of ATF in Los Angeles. Additionally, the three undercover agents were usually surveilled by back-up ATF Agents. The Aging Rebel, using a proxy, has filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to examine the names and mileage reports of those back-up agents on the night of October 7, 2008. Those requests have been ignored.
The three undercovers and their backups usually stayed to the conclusion of every Mongols event they attended in order to gain “evidence” of crimes committed by members of the Mongols. The backups often video recorded these events. On some occasions the undercovers participated in the crimes.
Hate Crimes and Fights
For example, during the public announcement of the indictments in the Cavazos case, the Mongols were accused of “hate crimes against African-Americans.” The charge seems to stem in large part from a brawl on December 10, 2006 when, the indictment states, Mongols “attacked and beat an African-American patron at the Tokio Lounge in Hollywood, California, while shouting racist slurs at the victim.” The three ATF undercovers all participated in the brawl and all shouted racist slurs.
When Kozlowski, D’Angelo and Giaoni arrived at The Mix with Martin, they immediately went looking for fights. “They were trying to say we were there to fight some Russian dudes, which was totally not the truth,” an eyewitness said. “They tried starting shit with the bouncers there, and a few other people until Hitman chilled them out.”
Among the few other people the three federal police agents “tried starting shit with” was a member of the Toonerville Rifa 13 clique.
Why That Night
The Aging Rebel has concluded that, for whatever reason, that night Hitman Martin realized that the three Cypress Park Mongols were undercover federal agents.
“Hitman came to (us),” a witness said on conditions of anonymity, “ and said he had to see us the next day because we ‘had to talk about the new dude that was hanging with the Cypress Park brothers.’ Mind you, in this entire investigation those Cypress Park guys never left a party early once. They rode in with Hitman. Yet, that night they left an hour or an hour and a half before everyone else. Why would they leave early? Right after Hitman came to me and another brother? Why did they leave then?”
One consequence of their early exit was that Martin had to ride home unaccompanied by any other patched Mongols. He could have ridden home in a pack but some of the Mongols that night were “famous for closing bars” and Martin just wanted to go home.
Another consequence was that the chase car got to go home early, too. So there were no ATF witnesses to the murder. So afterward the ATF Agents could plausibly deny knowing anything. But the next day, October 8th, the three undercover ATF Agents all did their best to incite a war between the Mongols and Toonerville.
Among the incongruities in this murder was a statement by a Glendale police spokesman the next day that “13 shots” had been fired at Martin. It was a strangely anxious thing to say. The press wanted to blame the Hells Angels. The Aging Rebel has concluded that 11 shots were fired and the police are just now learning about one of them because one bullet was actually carried away from the scene. It seems unmistakable therefore, that the Glendale Police statement was intended to lead journalists toward the Mexican Mafia.
In virtually the same hour that the Los Angeles press corps was being invited to connect the dots between thirteen shots and the thirteenth letter of the alphabet, Special Agent Darrin Kozlowski was telling every Mongol he could find that Hitman had been murdered by Toonerville Rifa 13 and that retribution should be exacted. Few things in life are reducible to two possibilities. But, in this case either Kozlowski either knew what he was talking about or he didn’t. It is also possible to construe Kozlowski’s statements as a solicitation to commit murder.
“Dirty Dan tried as hard as he could to get me to cosign on the Toonerville dude (meaning the man with whom Kozlowski had tried to start a fight) as being the shooter,” a person with knowledge of these events said. The knowledgeable person stated that he was watching the Toonerville associate at the very second he learned that Martin had been shot. Afterwards, Kozlowski approached Lil Rubes Cavazos and attempted to have the knowledgeable person expelled from the Mongols “out bad.”
Kozlowski “said that we were at the bar to start shit and he kept up his Toonerville hype,” the source said.
Giaoni and D’Angelo, federal agents and officers of the federal court, were also telling other Mongols how eager they were to participate in the underworld war Kozlowski wanted to start. “Hey dude what’s going on,” one source described their comments. “Do you know who did it? Do you think you know who did it? Well you know, if you want us to go with you, if you guys are going to go take care of business. We’re down.”
What Did Brunwin Know
The Aging Rebel has attempted to reasonably assess what Assistant U.S. Attorney Brunwin knew of these events and when he knew. Brunwin clearly knew something. He asked a federal grand jury to return an indictment against the Mongols on October 9, at virtually the same hour Martin’s body was being autopsied.
It is also obvious that neither Brunwin nor the ATF had any concern for their undercover agents’ safety. All four undercover agents directly involved in Operation Black Rain continued in their undercover capacity for another week. All four attended Martin’s funeral. At that funeral, ATF undercover agent John “Hollywood” Carr attempted to entrap a Mongol from outside California into participating in a multi-kilo drug deal as if he thought the investigation would continue for months more. As a consequence of his actions at the funeral, Carr was expelled from the Mongols on the spot.
Investigate This Investigation
This page believes that enough circumstantial evidence exists to justify an independent special investigation by the Department of Justice into the conduct of government employees and officials during Operation Black Rain and the subsequent prosecution.
An appropriate place to begin this investigation is the actions and possible criminal culpability of ATF Agents John Ciccone, Gregory Giaoni, Paul D’Angelo and Darrin Kozlowski and Assistant United States Attorney Christopher Brunwin in the murder of Manuel Vincent Martin.
After two years, this page has concluded that Martin was either:
1. murdered by one or more ATF Agents;
2. or ATF Agents deliberately and maliciously provoked Martin’s murder;
3. or ATF Agents had knowledge before the fact of Martin’s impending murder and did nothing to preserve his life.
The Aging Rebel believes that at least a reasonable suspicion exists that John Ciccone, Gregory Giaoni, Paul D’Angelo, Darrin Kozlowski and Christopher Brunwin may have committed one or more of the crimes of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, accessory before the fact of murder, solicitation of murder or obstruction of justice.
This page has also concluded, after two years, that it is reasonable to suspect that Christopher Brunwin had knowledge of unethical or criminal acts in the course of the investigation, that he withheld and continues to withhold knowledge of those acts from the courts and that he sought the return of the indictment in the Mongols case 36 hours after Manuel Vincent Martin’s murder in order to distance and insulate himself from what may have been the most blatant of those acts.
If impartial investigators should find that these publically stated suspicions about the actions of public employees, four of whom have made themselves public persons by appearing on television, rises to the level of probable cause, this page calls on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene and vacate all the convictions in the Mongols case including the convictions of Ruben Cavazos, Sr. and Ruben Cavazos, Jr.
The Aging Rebel also invites an investigation into the statements made in this report by the Associated Press, the Pasadena Star-News, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, Discovery Networks, Fox television and other news providers as well as by Judge Wright and Judge Collins.