The heartless legal game that is the four-year-long Mongols prosecution wound a little closer to its end in the last month.
Most of the action, or inaction, these days is about whether or not the government of the United States has to return what it stole from members of the club and when and how. The legal pretense for the theft is a hustle called civil forfeiture. The pretense is worthy of the Khmer Rouge.
If you were in any way associated with the Mongols Motorcycle Club during 2008 the government asserted its privilege to steal your motorcycle and any loose cash you might have had lying around. The seizure of the cash was particularly troubling. After the heartless bastards who engineered this prosecution confiscated the bank accounts and tangible assets there was nothing the wives could use to pay the rent and feed the children except whatever currency their men had cleverly hidden away. So the government stole the cash, too. The idea behind that was to inflict as much suffering on the families as possible. This is what America has come to.
Civil Forfeiture Suit
Over the course of four years these thefts became a lawsuit called United States of America v. Assorted Firearms, Motorcycles and Other Personal Property. Most of the victims of this government suit were never indicted and were never guilty of any crime but the forfeiture action was a way to make them suffer. The point of criminal law in the United States is to make people suffer not to serve justice – as the point of the Spanish Inquisition was to make people suffer not to serve Jesus. The Grand Inquisitor here is a federal judge named David O. Carter (photo above). The man with the red hot pokers is an Assistant U.S. Attorney named Steven R. Welk.
The case continued so long that it threatened to go to trial. In general, federal justice hates trials. Trials are a particular pet peeve of Judge Carter who has said many times that he “believes in the plea bargaining system.” Carter tried to discourage the prospect of a trial at a “status conference” on May 16. (The Aging Rebel covered that hearing here. ) Carter told the attorneys that day in blunt terms to avoid a trial. The trial date was set for October 9 and Welk got to work making deals.
Immediately after that hearing Carter screwed nine of the plaintiffs out of their property because they did not attend the status conference or hire an attorney to attend for them. In his order of default Carter wrote:
“Nine of the claimants failed to appear on May 14, 2012 – Moises Aragon, Sarah Figueroa, Juan Alfred Gonzalez, Gary Guerrero, Joshua Merrill, Harry Reynolds, III, Thomas Alarcon, Daniel Medel and David Tellez – and none of them notified the Court of their intent not to appear or offered any justification or excuse for their failure to appear. None were granted permission not to appear. Most of these claimants have failed to appear at any of the court-ordered status and scheduling conferences held in this matter.
“At the hearing on May 16, 2012, Al Cavazos, a relative of Ruben Cavazos, Sr. appeared and asked that his claim continue. Thus, the Court does not strike the claim. Al Cavazos, who addressed the Court on behalf of Ruben Cavzos, Sr. is ordered to file the address with the Court where Ruben Cavazos, Sr. is residing/serving his commitment. If Ruben Cavazos, Sr. does not litigate his claim, his claim may be stricken by the Court.”
“The appearance of all parties at status and scheduling conferences is essential to the expeditious resolution of litigation, this Court’s need to manage its docket, and the avoidance or prejudice to other parties. While the imposition of terminating sanctions is substantial, it is appropriate where a party has failed to make any effort to communicate with the Court or the other parties, or take reasonable steps to advance the litigation.”
Judge Carter does not know that Ruben “Doc” Cavazos is now incarcerated at Federal Correctional Institution La Tuna in Anthony, Texas because it is a national secret that, apparently, not even federal judges are allowed to know.
Thirty-two victims of the civil forfeiture have had some or all of their property returned since May 16. The settlements vary from civil forfeiture victim to victim. In most cases each victim had to agree not to sue the government in order to get his motorcycle, cash or other property back.
Those victims are: Mark Coronado, Don Cook, Ross Jauregui, Michael Ramos, Jim Canales, Joseph Gallegos, Ramon Uribe, Donald R Jarvis, Lizette Ortiz, Leonard Valles, Raul Varela, Jr., Eric Romero, Joshua Steven Teutschman, Diana Vivian Camacho, Don Cook, Jerry Pavia, Francisco Montijo, Frederick Widmaye, Etta M Aguirre, Mark Coronado, James Paniagua, Eduardo Sanchez, Patricia Quintero, Jason Hull, Manuel Viramontes, Jose Ochoa, Stephen Worthington, Alex Vallejo, Thomas Garcia, Andrew Bobadilla, David Tellez and Jorge Viramontes.
A trial for the remaining victims is still scheduled for October 9.