Ablett Sentenced

May 15, 2012

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Note:  The original version of this story stated that Ablett will be eligible for parole in 30 Years. The statue cited applies only to prisoners sentenced to life in 1984 or earlier. The Aging Rebel regrets the error

Christopher Bryan “Stoney” Ablett was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole by Federal District Judge Richard Seeborg. The sentence means that Ablett will never be eligible for parole.  Some federal prisoners who have been sentenced to life in prison in the past were eligible for parole after 30 years.

The applicable federal statute states: “Any prisoner…shall be released on parole after having served two-thirds of each consecutive term or terms, or after serving thirty years of each consecutive term or terms of more than forty-five years including any life term, whichever is earlier: Provided, however, that the Commission shall not release such prisoner if it determines that he has seriously or frequently violated institution rules and regulations or that there is a reasonable probability that he will commit any Federal, State, or local crime.”

The Case

Ablett, a member of the Modesto chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle Club killed Marc “Papa” Guardado in a duel outside the Dirty Thieves bar in San Francisco on September 2, 2008. Ablett was on a date with a woman named Amie Marvel and her roommate. When the three started to leave Ablett had a minor motorcycle accident and could not restart his bike. Guardado learned from at least two friends that there were “Mongols down on Treat” (Street). When he went to the bar to confront those Mongols he found Ablett. Within seconds a shouting match became a street fight. Ablett was armed with at least one gun and a fixed blade knife. He stabbed Guardado then dropped the Hells Angel with a shot to the chest. Then while Guardado lay in the street Ablett shot him in the back of the head.

Ablett turned himself in to police in Oklahoma a month later. He was charged with murder in California. More than six months after that he was charged with multiple federal racketeering charges and his case hinged on whether the Department of Justice could convince a trial jury that he killed Guardado on behalf of the Mongols and to enhance his status within that club.

Throughout the federal case Ablett’s lawyers, Michael N. Burt and Richard B. Mazer, insisted that Ablett was the victim of an unprovoked attack by multiple assailants, that he acted in self-defense and that his actions were unrelated to his Mongols membership. Ablett took the stand and told the jury that he stabbed Guardado because he feared for his life and the lives of his companions. He also told the jury that he shot Guardado in the chest because the wounded man continued to attack him and because he believed a second assailant rushing toward him was pulling a gun. He testified that he did not intend to shoot Guardado in the head.

Prosecutors, relying on the testimony of ATF agents, convinced jurors that the fight culminated decades of violence between the Hells Angels and the Mongols. They told the jury that Ablett was armed because he had anticipated a confrontation with Hells Angels when he went to San Francisco. And, the jury also decided that Ablett had deliberately executed the dying Angel as he lay face down in the street.

Last February 21 the jury took less than four hours to find Ablett guilty of “murder in aid of racketeering,” “assault with a deadly weapon in aid of racketeering,: “use/possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence resulting in murder” and “use/possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.”

What The Judge Thought

A week ago Ablett’s lawyers asked Seeborg to either acquit their client or order a new trial. In denying those motions Seeborg explained at great length what he thought about the Ablett case. Last Friday he wrote:

“There is no dispute that Ablett was a “full-patched” member of the Modesto Chapter of the Mongols Motorcycle Club, a long-standing rival to the Hell’s Angels Motorcycle Club, of which victim Mark Guardado was a member and the San Francisco Chapter president. There is also no question that on the night of September 2, 2008, in the Mission District of San Francisco, Ablett, armed with a .357 magnum revolver and a large knife and wearing a Mongols t-shirt, was suddenly confronted by Guardado, while leaving the Dirty Thieves bar, where he had been socializing with friends. Guardado had been notified that a Mongol member was in the neighborhood. Neither man knew the other prior to their encounter on that night, but both were wearing clothing that identified their respective clubs, and both knew the Mission District to be Hells Angels’ “territory.” Ablett testified at trial that in the struggle that ensued on the sidewalk and in the street, he stabbed Guardado repeatedly while they were wrestling on the ground, and then, after the two separated briefly, shot Guardado in the chest. Ablett further acknowledged that when Guardado subsequently collapsed in the street, he fired a final, fatal shot that hit Guardado in the back of his head, and then left the scene on his motorcycle.

“Aside from those facts, the circumstances of the confrontation and the precise manner in which it occurred were hotly contested at trial. The prosecution maintained Guardado was alone and unarmed when he confronted Ablett. While there was conflicting evidence as to who initiated the physical struggle, evidence at trial reflected that when Guardado attempted to retreat, gravely wounded, he collapsed in the street. According to the government’s evidence, Ablett then calmly and methodically approached Guardado as he lay in the street and deliberately killed him by a shot to the back of the head. Although Ablett eventually surrendered in Oklahoma after an arrest warrant issued, the prosecution offered evidence that his month-long, interstate flight, aided by other Mongols, represented an effort primarily to evade law enforcement, and only less so the Hells Angels.

“Ablett, by contrast, testified that Guardado was accompanied by a “pack” of armed Hells Angels in a dark colored, light truck (possibly a sports utility vehicle). Ablett testified he was aware of the Hells Angels’ practice of attacking Mongols in groups, believed the men he saw on the street with Guardado to be armed, and immediately feared for his life and the lives of his female acquaintances. The defense’s theory of the case was that Ablett merely reacted defensively in the face of grave danger, by killing Guardado, and shooting at his alleged companions. Ablett insisted that he fled the scene without surrendering to law enforcement for the sake of self-preservation and out of fear of the Hells Angels.

“In light of the requisite elements of the racketeering-related charges, the prosecution presented extensive evidence relating to the organization, protocols, and activities of the Mongols. Much of this evidence was derived from ‘Operation Black Rain,’ a 2008 undercover infiltration of the club by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), which resulted in the indictment of scores of Mongols, including many of its leaders. The government’s presentation showed the club’s activities and members’ conduct to be highly organized and governed by specific rules – some written, and others rehearsed. Evidence demonstrated that the club itself is similarly rule-bound and generally organized into geographically-based chapters, throughout multiple states and foreign countries, and overseen by a “mother” chapter based in Southern California. Each chapter is comprised of officers, including a president and sergeant-at-arms, full-patched members, and “prospects” (e.g., recruits). There are special communication protocols within the club, and all officer conference calls.

“The prosecution submitted, as an organizing principle, that the Mongols (like the Hells Angels) consider themselves to be an “outlaw” motorcycle gang – in their somewhat self aggrandizing terms, the “one percent” that refuses to conform to social norms. Among other things, this supposed rebelliousness is characterized by violence. The jury heard testimony from numerous government and defense witnesses concerning the two clubs’ decades-long rivalry, which has left scores of Mongols and Hells Angels members dead. Significantly, the government also presented evidence to show that a Mongol who kills or assaults a member of the Hells Angels earns greater respect within the Mongols, and receives particular patches to be worn on his motorcycle vest, signifying his enhanced status.”

“While it is abundantly clear that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the alleged enterprise was “engaged in racketeering activity,” prior cases have not articulated any bright-line rules as to the quantum of proof required in connection with specific alleged racketeering acts, or the amount of such activity that is necessary to support the inference that an enterprise is “engaged in racketeering activity.”

“The government’s presentation of the events at Laughlin was much more substantial. Specifically, the prosecution presented highly incriminating evidence of the battle on the casino floor, including video depicting Mongols attacking Hells Angels with guns and other weapons. There can be little question that the government succeeded in adducing adequate evidence to prove the Mongols engaged in murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy to commit murder at Laughlin. While it is true, as Ablett emphasizes, that the Laughlin incident occurred in 2002, years before the killing charged in this case, the evidence showed it further inflamed the rivalry between the two clubs, and again, the jury was entitled to consider these materials in support of its determination that the Mongols were engaged in racketeering activities on or about the date of the alleged murder.”

“…admittedly, there was no evidence the Mongols took a portion of the transaction proceeds, nor coordinated or sanctioned the sales. According to the evidence, however, the agent who purchased the drugs (the agent was ATF Special Agent Darrin Kozlowski — Aging Rebel) was later reprimanded by the president of the Mongols chapter with which he was associated for not reporting the transactions to the chapter. The evidence suggested there were suspicions within the membership about the agent’s undercover status, and the Mongol’s leadership determined to keep closer watch on his activities. The effect of this particular evidence is ambiguous: on the one hand, it suggests the club was not fully aware of the specific transactions at issue, but on the other, it suggests that the Mongols’ leaders did not object, in principle, to drug trafficking within the membership, and simply wanted to remain informed of such activities. In support of the latter conclusion, the evidence strongly suggested that the undercover ATF agent who made the controlled purchases from various Mongols members was able to do so only by virtue of his status as an official prospect for membership. Additionally, there was evidence presented throughout trial to suggest that the club was well aware of its members’ drug-related activities. In fact, one of the members involved in trafficking later approached the agent again at a Mongols party in July of 2008 (at which Ablett was present) to propose a heroin deal. On balance, there was sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that the Mongols were involved in trafficking activities on or about the time of Guardado’s death.”

“The defense maintains that ‘[t]his evidence, even if believed, would not allow a rational jury to conclude that Mr. Ablett is guilty of malice murder under California law.’ Ablett’s characterization of the evidence, however, ignores the testimony of multiple unbiased, percipient witnesses. Those individuals – neighbors, passersby, etc. – observed Ablett separate from Guardado, shoot him in the chest, and then calmly and methodically execute him after he had collapsed in the street.”

“None of the cases cited by Ablett stand for the proposition that a defendant, even if initially confronted by his victim, may shoot him to death while he lays helpless and already mortally injured. It is also worth emphasizing that none of these cases arose in the context of a gang-related killing. Here, by contrast, there was a great deal of evidence to establish the Mongols’ hatred of the Hells Angels, which, when viewed in the light most favorable to the prosecution, supported conviction and undermined Ablett’s defenses.”

The Defense’s Dying Gasp

In a motion filed yesterday Mazer and Burt conceded, “There really is no issue as to the sentence Mr. Ablett is going to receive; he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

Then they argued that the government ignored “the objective evidence that Mark Guardado had backup when he attacked Mr. Ablett.”

Finally, the two defenders raged against the “Enterprise Theory of Investigation.” This theory, invented by a left-leaning sociologist named Edwin Sutherland, is a tool government prosecutors use to enforce unconstitutional “Bills of Attainder” against selected, and usually unpopular, groups under the federal racketeering statutes. Constitutionally, technically, it is not illegal to belong to either the Mongols or the Hells Angels. Sutherland’s theory, which federal prosecutors usually the ETI, provides a short cut around the Constitution that allows prosecutors to get “bad guys.” The ETI was at the heart of the Ablett case.

Months after the verdict, on the day before sentencing, the defense attorneys wrote, “Finally, this sentencing warrants a brief comment on the ‘enterprise’ theory of prosecution of the Mongols motorcycle club as a RICO criminal enterprise. A law that was designed to pursue the Mafia and organized crime syndicates has now been twisted by the government into a alleged RICO enterprise in a manner witch abuses the intended purpose of the RICO statute. It is not against the law to be a Mongol the First Amendments right to freedom of association protects membership in the Mogols Motorcycle Club. These men are living a lifestyle that is as American as the Cowboy. There will probably still be a Mongols Motorcycle Club long after Mr. Ablett passes from this earth, whether that be in prison or in freedom and vindication.”

The defenders’ words were an afterthought that changed nothing.


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25 Responses to “Ablett Sentenced”

  1. observer Says:

    With a competent defense, and without that last shot, he’d have had a pretty good chance. That said, the last shot probably trumps any defense. The triumph here of RICO though is a greater horror than this killing and its aftermath. RICO is the real menace here, and unlike everyone else involved, it just got stronger,

  2. Shyster Says:

    Disturbing. Extremely so. I saw none of the testimony so I have no right to critique the defense or the AUSA. The fact that the jury came back in 4 hours with guilty across the board tells me that Laughlin was relied on and hammered home heavy to the jury. That and of course the actions and testimony of the infiltrators and informants.

    The Feds will do the same with Reno.


  3. Doc Jones Says:

    This is just horrible!! The circumstances do not fit the punishment. I’m concerned that if they can’t get a RICO conviction they might start charging club members who get into it with a hate crime. Where is it all going?

    Doc Jones

  4. Doc Jones Says:

    Another thought……..Ablett held his mud and didn’t rat. I have a feeling that he turned himself in because he was causing too much heat on his club. This is what a real man is!! For those of you who are thinking about prospecting for a club……do you have what it takes to put the club first? Ablett is a class act to say the least.

    Doc Jones

  5. Glenn S. Says:

    The RICO laws are glowing examples of the dumbing down of America. The faulty logic behind them and the way they are applied should be obvious to everybody, but the juries just dumbly nod and send men to prison forever. Its bound to get worse, when they start applying the post-9-11 anti-terrorism laws in ways they were not intended to be applied.

  6. neverwaz Says:

    Seeborg: ““While it is abundantly clear that the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the alleged enterprise was “engaged in racketeering activity,” prior cases have not articulated any bright-line rules as to the quantum of proof required in connection with specific alleged racketeering acts, or the amount of such activity that is necessary to support the inference that an enterprise is “engaged in racketeering activity.”

    The bar was already set low for the persecution to prove racketeering. The racketeering charges in this case were based on nothing but a load of inferences and circumstantial evidence, and the jury took only 4 hrs to push the bar even lower for future cases. Unfuckingbelievable..

  7. charlie Says:

    Rebel, great job of reporting what is a very complex and troubling case in a nuanced and balanced way. I saw an article on Ablett’s sentancing today that was as cardboard is to a steak dinner. Basicly. “Ablett is a dog and Guardao got what he deserved. Fed’s heroic defenders of the people. On to more important news. Last night on American Idol.” (I think you catch my drift.) America is dying on the vine. The surrendering of our liberty and freedoms is truly stuperfying in the ease with which it is being accomplished. Hell, when most folks are content too surrender 50% + of their income in taxation it’s probably not surprising that it is a done deal. In my mind the betrayal of the people by the 4th estate is the biggest sellout of all. If these sellouts actually sat up and barked out the truth the ship would begin too right herself. “Gas is really 13 dollars a gallon. The Government is spending billions of your dollars murdering people, including fellow citizens. We are in debt to fucking Brazil, India and China and are owned by slimy bankers who want your children to die in for profit wars so they may be enriched.” Perhaps headlines like that would shake things up. Thanks foe bringing an honest voice to our corner of the world. Cheers, Charlie.

  8. Dante Says:

    I think a competent judge would have realized that RICO does in no way apply to this case but had he done so he would have opened himself up to being the government’s next target.

  9. Rebel Says:

    Dear Charlie,

    You’re preaching to the choir. As the old economy dried up, government became the employer of last resort. So autoworkers became cops and dying towns competed for prisons as they once competed for factories.


  10. RVN69 Says:

    Soon things will be like the old Tennesse Ernie Ford song, “I owe my soul to the company store” Only now it will be “I owe my soul to the government.”

    “Sometimes the majority just means all the fools are on the same side.”

  11. charlie Says:

    So true Rebel. I’m a carpenter by trade and have been self employed for 20 years. Used to be a young guy would learn his trade and aspire to start his own business, nowsadays everyone wants to be on the goverments tit. Sad to see America in such decline. Breaks ya heart doesn’t it.

  12. Mama Cass Says:

    Hey Rebel, I am a firm believer in freedom of speech, and freedom of press, but I also believe if you are going to write, you better know what you are talking about. Christopher Ablett will not be eligible for parole in 30 years. See, he was handed down 3 life sentences (without the possibility of parole) plus 240 months. If you had been in the courtroom during his sentencing, you would know this. At the very least if you had downloaded the sentencing order, you would know this. I don’t think anyone out there understands the true impact this case has on those of us who truly care about him. Please, before you write, check the facts. Maybe if the true facts are out there it will open some eyes.

  13. Rebel Says:

    Dear Mama Cass,

    You are right. I wasn’t there. This was a difficult case for me to cover. I did a poor job covering it. I have had more people shoving shit down my throat over this case than any other I have covered since the Sober Murders a few years ago. I am very aware of the deficiencies in my coverage. I regret them. And several people have jumped on me about stating that Ablett will be eligible for mandatory parole in 30 years, which is why, in the story, I cited the applicable US Parole Board regulation. Here is what I thought I knew I was talking about.

    Two of Ablett’s life sentences without possibility of parole are to be served concurrently, so effectively they amount to one life sentence. It is certainly dramatic to call them two life sentences but a “natural life sentence” still amounts to 30 years according to the revision to the Parole Board regulations I have read, which I think comes from 2011. Maybe they have been repealed. Chris Ablett’s mandatory parole has nothing to do with “mandatory sentencing” or “sentencing reform” which is all political posturing. To the best of my knowledge, at the time of Ablett’s sentencing, federal “natural life” meant 30 years.

    Then there is the third life sentence to be served consecutively to the other two life sentences. So theoretically, Ablett can be paroled in 30 years, then the the Parole Board can decide to put him back in his concrete box to do another 30 years. I guess they might do that because that is the meanest, most unreasonable, totalitarian thing the government could do. That is certainly possible. I have been told that the “original intent” of the US Parole Board regs was that a federal sentence of natural life means 30 years. And, as far as I know there has not yet been a court case that challenges a natural life sentence that exceeds 30 years without possibility of parole. In writing the story, I presumed that 27 years from now, the Parole Board will deem the 70-year-old Ablett to be eligible for parole — at least partly because the United States may then want to devote less of its Gross Domestic Product to keeping old guys locked up. The additonal 20 years also doesn’t matter. It is purely rhetorical. Natural life plus 6,000 years still means natural life with mandatory parole in 30. The real question is about what consecutive life sentences will mean 30 years from now. So, I made an assumption. The way things are going, maybe everybody will be locked up 30 years from now and none of us will ever get out. I understand that is increasingly plausible. I think that assumption, that Ablett will just do the two life sentences, is what you mean when you tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about. Maybe you’re right.

    Since I wanted people to read the story, and there was a lot to report that I had not reported before, I did not fully explain the reasoning that led me to make the statement that Ablett will be eligible for parole in 30 years but I did think it through. And, I still think Ablett will be eligible for parole in 30 years. I understand that you disagree and I understand that the US Attorney in Frisco disagrees. I am still disinclined to believe that in the year 2039 the US Parole Board will free Ablett so he can immediately begin serving another 30 year sentence. I could be wrong. I guess somebody will find out in 2039.

    I am very aware of the distress that this case has caused Ablett, his friends and his family; Guardado, his friends and his family; the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club and the Mongols Motorcycle Club. I am aware that there are different versions of the events that led to Guardado’s death. My argument with the prosecution was always that, no matter which version of events was true, it was not a racketeering case. I believe the Department of Justice pursued it as a racketeering case because Ablett’s trial is a cynical move in a grand strategy to outlaw motorcycle clubs. In the end, it seemed to me that both the most compassionate and briefly accurate thing to state was that Ablett, if he survives prison, will be out in 30 years.

    Frankly, I think the crisis in prison overcrowding means he is likely to be paroled even sooner.

    You asked me, “Please before you write, check the facts. Maybe the true facts out there will open some eyes.” I am not sure what you mean by that. Feel free to argue with me anytime. I am just trying to report the case. I don’t think anybody else was. I am sure that somebody in San Francisco with greater resources than I, Henry Lee maybe, could do a better job. He chose not to. So you got stuck with me.


  14. jrnr Says:


    Thank you for the work that you do. I certainly know it doesn’t pay that well. Speaking for myself, when I want to know the facts, I come here, regardless of which way the facts may lead. Whether you were or weren’t at the trial, for me, everything you reported was a hell of a lot more than what we would have heard otherwise. Thank you for your devotion to making sure that the governments lies and propaganda are exposed for the bullshit that they really are.

    Much respect!


  15. rollinnorth Says:

    Keep at it, man; we need your work. The lame stream media is just going to print, or read off the teleprompter, what is in the government press releases.
    The Federal Parole Board has jurisdiction over those sentenced prior to November 1987, when the Federal Sentencing Guidelines were adopted, and those sentenced under the District of Columbia Code.
    The 924(c)charge, Use/Possession of Firearm in Furtherance of Crime of Violence, Count 3 in Ablett’s case, is a mandatory consecutive sentence. It’s a heavy hammer used by the Government to scare defendants into pleas.
    It will be interesting to read the sentencing transcript once it is unsealed and on PACER. As you reported, though, the Court’s Order denying the motion for acquittal and new trial pretty much set out what was coming.
    Plenty of legal challenges were raised during pretrial and trial, so the opportunity exists for appeals.
    Past that, the consecutive firearm sentence does complicate any chance of leniency or some other mitigation or loophole somewhere down the line. I do agree that prison overcrowding may be a factor and who knows what will come along in terms of “reform” over the next few decades. Boil it all down, though, Ablett is gone for a long, long time.
    I feel bad for Ablett, his family, friends and club. I feel bad for Guardado, his family, friends and club. I feel bad for Mama Cass and all those who are still reeling, still wondering WTF, from this horrible tragedy and the horrible way “our” government chooses to handle these matters. The whole notion of racketeering in this situation is bizarre and continues the government’s march in a dangerous direction.

  16. china eyes Says:

    Living the life for almosy 40 yrs I have unfortunately been around mongels on several bike runs including the Laughlin river run. I own a home on the river’s California side. For numerous years I have ran the gate for the Love Ride for one of the event promoters “Walter”, danced on stage & excorted several big name entertainers. I feel more than qualified to comment on the mongels mc. I find them to be dirty,unkept, smeared with filth in their appearance and language. This club (I’ve been exposed to several clubs) incites fear and uses it along with intimidation to project their juvenile images. They are NOTHING but a bunch of posers powered by peer pressures from their less than smart so called brothers (and I use that phrase LOOSELY). Hey smart idiots why don’t u take some charm lessons from a REAL man. Sonny Barger who I’ve known for years both intimately and as the real mc deal!!!! The monkeys have the same mentality as the vagos more posers.

  17. Muck 1%er Says:

    Lmfao @ chink eyes.

    Must suck livin life as a cop. Really sucks that the Mongols wouldn’t let you be the pivot point for your circle suck that you asked for.
    Maybe you can earn your cumguzzler patch with some other organization.
    Better yet…go hang out at one of the homeless shelters. Bound to be lots of old winos who would love your kind of BJ skills.

    Don’t bother responding. I’m done with you

  18. Caretaker Says:

    I may be wrong,but judging by the post i’m pretty sure slant-eyes is nothing more than a gash with attitude. Just sayin…


  19. ruffrider Says:

    @china eyes

    Fuck You Cunt



  20. Gringo Says:

    Cum dumpster comes to mind!

  21. Lawyer'd Up Says:

    Was that Ciccone’s better half? Or is Chris Blatchford using that handle! Stupid pig.


  22. Phuquehed Says:

    @ China cunt – Wow. A professional pole dancer with a mouth and zero brains spews once again…who’d’a thunk it. You probably do occasionally have intelligence in you…at least until you spit it out.

  23. Rebel Says:

    Dear Mama Cass,

    My sincere apologies. You were right and I was wrong. Chris Ablett will never get out of jail unless the law is changed. He will not be eligible for parole in 30 years. I regret the error.


  24. Mama Cass Says:

    Dearest Rebel,
    Thank you for your apology. I am very sorry if a sounded a bit harsh. This has just been a very hard thing for us to deal with. The fact that our controlling, fucked up govt could do something like this to Chris is very hard to accept. And they aren’t going to stop with him. They will start using Rico for any act committed by a person with any affiliation to any club (look out Rotary Club, you could be next!) I would, however, like to see if I can pick your brain. If at all possible, could you please contact me “off the record”? Again, thank you for the apology.
    And we do appreciate your work. If it wasn’t for you, people that care wouldn’t know what was going on with cases like this. We already know that the media only writes what the govt or cops want out there. Not the truth.

  25. btwn2clubs Says:

    As a family member who has family members supporting opposite clubs mentioned in this story, am I to believe the shit will now hit the fan and these two will be hard to get in the same room. For years we have been told it is all under wraps and peaceful existences resumed, should I start worrying?

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