Stuart Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick (above), the former Vice-President of the Vagos Motorcycle Club’s Los Angeles chapter, pled guilty to a single charge of conspiracy to commit murder yesterday in a courtroom in Reno.
The guilty plea is one part of a plea and sentencing agreement Rudnick has arranged with the Washoe County District Attorney. He will testify against two other defendants when their trial begins next October. Those men are a Hells Angel named Cesar Villagrana and a Vago named Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez. Both men are charged with “conspiracy to engage in an affray” resulting in death. Gonzalez is also charged with murder. Villagrana is also charged with discharging a pistol.
The charges result from a deadly fight between Vagos and Hells Angels last September 23 in John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks, Nevada. Hells Angels San Jose charter President Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew was killed in the brief melee. Two Vagos named Leonard Ramirez and Diego Garcia were also shot.
Rudnick relentlessly provoked a fight with Pettigrew for almost an hour before violence erupted at 11:25 that night. Rudnick, who was drunk, complained that when Pettigrew said “Hello” and slapped Rudnick on the back he touched Rudnick’s Vagos patch. At the time Pettigrew was shaking hands with and greeting numerous Vagos. As he greeted Rudnick, Pettigrew asked, “Hey you want to have a beer?”
Rudnick exploded “You have no right to touch me!”
Rudnick spent much of the next hour complaining to his club brothers and taunting Pettigrew who eventually said, “I don’t need to talk to you no more.”
Moments later, Pettigrew hit the jabbering Rudnick with a beer bottle and the fight quickly escalated. Rudnick was expelled from the Vagos within two days of the fight.
Rudnick is one of two Vagos who have cooperated with prosecutors in the case. A former Vago named Jacob Cancelli testified before the Nevada grand jury that indicted Rudnick, Villagrana and Gonzalez. Although this is a state case, Cancelli had been convicted of federal fraud charges in Wilmington, Delaware. Presumably, since Cancelli has been in the custody of federal police and he has been talking to police some of the police he has talked to are federal police
Cancelli substantiated what the prosecution believes are the key elements of the affray accusation: That there was “a prior plan to engage in mutual combat” and the brawl was the result of “a challenge to fight” made by Rudnick and accepted by Pettigrew. Rudnick will probably also substantiate those same elements.
The extent of Rudnick’s cooperation with state and local authorities is unknown at this time. After he pled guilty yesterday his bail was reduced from $300,000 to $100,000.
He could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison but if he offers what is usually called “significant cooperation” it is very unlikely that his sentence will be that severe.