Another shoe dropped a couple of weeks ago in a case against members and associates of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club in Rochester, New York.
In the inverted world of federal justice, the real investigations never get started until sometime after the arrests. Prosecutors usually tell judges that the defendants cannot be freed because a superseding indictment is “imminent.” In fed-speak imminent usually means about the time it takes for an elephant to have a baby. The long delay between the first and subsequent indictments also gives prosecutors multiple chances for headlines.
A superseding indictment in the case titled USA et al. v. Moran et al. exemplifies that investigative and public relations strategy.
The first indictment, unsealed on April 28, 2011 after six months of grand jury testimony, charged five defendants with racketeering. Like most federal indictments it is a wonderful tale crafted of magical prose that is sure to remind readers of Harry Potter. And, there is no better way to summarize the tone and substance of its accusations than to directly quote from the document. So live with it.
The first indictment begins:
“At all times material to this Indictment: The defendants, Robert W. Moran, Jr. a/k/a Bugsy, and James Henry McAuley, Jr. a/k/a Mitch a/k/a MTM a/k/a Mitch the Mooch a/k/a Mitch the Menace, and Richard E. Riedman a/k/a Eric, and Timothy M. Stone a/k/a Tim Bob, not named herein as defendants, and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, were members and associates of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club, Rochester Charter (hereinafter ‘Hell’s Angels’), who were an enterprise, as defined in Title 18, United States Code, Section 1959(b)(2), namely a group of individuals associated in fact that was engaged in, and the activities of which affected, interstate commerce (hereinafter ‘Hell’s Angels Enterprise’). The Hell’s Angels Enterprise constituted an ongoing organization whose members functioned as a continuing unit for a common purpose of facilitating their criminal activity.”
Confederation Of Clubs
So, to summarize so far, some guys with great nicknames belonged to a motorcycle club and sometimes, like everybody else in America, one or more of them broke one of our nation’s many laws. Further, after all these years prosecutors and others still insist that the Hells Angels don’t know how to spell their own name.
Back to the first indictment.
“Members of the Hell’s Angels Enterprise claim to control a territory within New York extending from Rochester, New York, to Interstate 81 near Syracuse, New York. Within this territory, the Hell’s Angels Enterprise expected other motorcycle clubs to request and receive their permission to ‘fly their colors.’ As a prerequisite to receiving their permission, members of the Hell’s Angels Enterprise required members of other motorcycle clubs to support the Hell’s Angels by attending events that they sponsored, purchasing items that they offered for sale, and paying dues to the ‘Rochester Area Coalition,’ which was a coalition of motorcycle clubs in the greater Rochester area led by the Hell’s Angels. Members and associates of the Hell’s Angels Enterprise used violence and threats of violence to promote and protect the criminal activity engaged in by various members of the enterprise, to discipline enterprise members and associates who violate Hell’s Angels rules, to punish Hell’s Angels members and associates who have fallen into disfavor, to retaliate against rival gangs, to punish those who did not show proper ‘respect’ to the Hell’s Angels, to punish those who informed law enforcement authorities of illegal activities engaged in by Hell’s Angels members and associates, to establish and control their territory, and to promote and enhance the Hell’s Angels’ prestige, reputation and position in the community.”
So again, to translate, the Rochester Hells Angels is a preeminent motorcycle club that acts just like every other motorcycle club or fried chicken franchise in that they claim a territory. They adhere to a certain moral and ethical code that is adhered to by every other motorcycle club in the world including the Night Wolves in Russia who never get indicted. They like it when people go their parties and since they believe in peace, not war, they want other clubs to join their local confederation of clubs.
Finally, this fine example of prosecutorial prose gets to the point:
On May 31, 2006, the defendant, Robert W. Moran, Jr. a/k/a Bugsy, and an individual whose identity is known to the Grand Jury, drove to Spenders bar, located at 1600 Lyell Avenue, Rochester, New York, in Moran’s 1995 Dodge RAM 2500 pick-up truck. On May 31, 2006, after the defendant, Robert W. Moran, Jr. a/k/a Bugsy, and an individual whose identity is known to the Grand Jury entered Spenders bar, the defendant, Gina Tata, indicated, in sum and substance, that one of the patrons at the bar, Victim 1, a person known to the Grand Jury, had threatened to kill a member of the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club. On May 31, 2006, the defendant, Robert W. Moran, Jr. a/k/a Bugsy, repeatedly struck Victim 1 in the head and body with a baseball bat.”
Additional members of this motorcycle club heard rumors of the alleged assault and failed to immediately report the rumors to the police.
The Second Indictment
The first indictment hung over the defendant’s heads like a rusty axe until a sealed, superseding indictment was returned by another grand jury on February 16. The grand jury that rubber stamped that one wasn’t even impaneled until six months after the first indictment was returned. The government connects the two sets of accusations because both indictments mention the Rochester Angels and some of the defendants are the same. Specifically, it alleges that:
“…James Henry McAuley, Jr. a/k/a Mitch a/k/a MTM a/k/a Mitch the Mooch a/k/a Mitch the Menace, Richard W. Mar a/k/a Rick a/k/a Chief a/k/a The Professor a/k/a Hoki Jamoki, Donna Boon a/k/a Donna L. McAuley a/k/a Dot a/k/a The Queen, Richard E. Redman a/k/a Eric, Gordon L. Montgomery a/k/a Gordy a/k/a Nixon, Jeffrey A. Tyler a/k/a Moses and Paul S. Griffin a/k/a Derby, did knowingly, willfully, and unlawfully combine, conspire, and agree together and with others, known and unknown, to commit the following offenses, that is, to possess with intent to distribute, and distribute, 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing methamphetamine.”
So to summarize again, some Rochester Angels and one in California (Rick Mar) shared new school among themselves and their friends. And somewhere in this mix is an unnamed “individual whose identity is known to the Grand Jury.”
The new accusations of drug consumption were immediately announced to the local press. The local ABC affiliate reported that the bar patron was assaulted because “he made disparaging remarks about motorcycle gangs.” The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported the superseding indictment as if it was an original indictment. Dozens of news outlets including the Wall Street Journal reported the superseding indictment as if it was breaking news instead of simply an attempt to bolster a weak case with additional headlines.
All of these news accounts were based on the same press release. The release, as is customary, states, “The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.”
The disclaimer did not make it into a single television or newspaper account.