This story was published on June 26 and corrected on June 28. The uncorrected story identified Robert Barreto, Jr. as a party to the suit. He is not and The Aging Rebel apologizes for the error.
The Southern Nevada Confederation of Clubs filed a civil rights lawsuit yesterday in federal court against the notorious Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, the North Las Vegas Police Department and numerous sworn peace officers whose names are both known and unknown.
Dozens of individual members of the Mongols, Vagos, Stray Cats and Bandidos Motorcycle Clubs are parties to the suit which alleges that “Plaintiffs were willfully, maliciously, and intentionally prevented from associating and/or assembling without justification or compelling state interest as a result of their status as a motorcycle club or motorcycle club member.” The suit alleges that the members of the clubs were both denied their constitutional rights and defamed.
The plaintiffs seek “damages in a sum in excess of $75,000; punitive and exemplary damages in a sum in excess of $75,000; a reasonable sum as attorneys’ fees, costs of suit and interest; and such other and further relief as the Court deems just and proper.” The plaintiffs are represented by an attorney named Stephen P. Stubbs and it briefly summarizes several illegal incidents in which clubs or club members were harassed or otherwise inconvenienced.
The lawsuit alleges two incidents against the Mongols Motorcycle Club.
In the first incident the Mongols MC “planned to hold a custom car and bike reunion for its Las Vegas chapter.” The club reserved 160 rooms for three nights at the Alexis Park Resort Las Vegas and paid a $50,000 deposit. Two weeks later the resort cancelled the reservation “because Officers of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department informed the resort that if the Event proceeded as planned, LVMPD would be blockading the property and that all individuals and vehicles entering or leaving the property would be searched.”
In a second incident the club planned to hold an unspecified event at the Mountain Springs Bar in Las Vegas last fall. The bar backed out of its deal with the Mongols after a Vegas Metro officer named William Schoen threatened the revocation of the bar’s liquor license “for hosting the Mongols MC if the event went forward, and asserting that the club and its members were involved in trafficking and narcotics use, firearms trafficking, and felonious assaults and batteries.” After cancelling the event the owner “continued to receive threats from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in connection with hosting the Mongols MC and its members.”
The Vagos Motorcycle Club had a scheduled event at a place called Scoundrels Pub in Las Vegas that was cancelled following police threats.
“The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department learned of the event, following which Officer Robert Willis of the Special Investigations Section sent a letter dated June 16, 2011, to the Scoundrels Pub threatening its liquor license for hosting the Vagos MC if the event went forward, and asserting that the club and its members were involved in trafficking and narcotics use, firearms trafficking, and felonious assaults and batteries. The Scoundrels Pub thereafter cancelled the June 18, 2011 event, and continued to receive threats from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in connection with hosting the Vagos MC and its members.”
Stray Cats Incident
Last January members of the Stray Cats Motorcycle Club met “to hear a lecture and discuss Constitutional rights, United States history, and recent alleged harassment of different motorcycle clubs by law enforcement.” The discussion was led by the plaintiff’s attorney in this suit, Stephen Stubbs.
“Approximately 40 minutes after Attorney Stubbs left, Defendant the North Las Vegas Police Department arrived on the scene for the express purpose of ‘clearing’ the members from the premises. Plaintiff Richard Tambe, a member of the Stray Cats MC, noticed approximately a dozen police officers and multiple police cars arrive on the scene. Plaintiff Tambe was subsequently patted down extensively and surrounded by at least four police officers. ”
When Tambe asked what the raid was about and asked to have an attorney present he “was shown a Taser” and questioning continued. “In the meantime, Defendant the North Las Vegas Police Department forced the other attendees of the lecture to leave the scene, threatening to ticket and tow their motorcycles if they failed to do so. When Attorney Stubbs returned to the scene, several officers prevented him from speaking with Plaintiff Tambe, and threatened to arrest him if he failed to obey their commands and stand a long distance away from Mr. Tambe. Attorney Stubbs informed the officers that Mr. Tambe has a Constitutional right to counsel, following which a female officer told Attorney Stubbs, ‘there is no right to counsel on the streets of North Las Vegas, only in a court room.’ After the gathering was broken up, Plaintiff Tambe was given two citations and told, ‘You are not having your food drive on Saturday.’”
Last February a paramedic named Joseph Pitka “was arrested by officers of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department during a traffic stop following a meeting of the COC.” After the arrest, Vegas Metro officers went to Pitka’s longtime employer, MedicWest Ambulance, and told Pitka’s supervisor that the medic “had been observed associating with what they termed a ‘criminal’ motorcycle club known as the Bandidos, which the FBI and other law enforcement organizations link to stabbings, shootings, and other criminal activity.”
The cops “went on to infer that the Bandidos were interested in Plaintiff Pitka because of his access to controlled substances. Plaintiff Pitka was ultimately terminated by MedicWest Ambulance several months later, in or about November 2011, after 12 years of service. Plaintiff’s efforts to obtain subsequent employment have been without success because Defendant the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has contacted potential employers to inform them that Plaintiff Pitka is allegedly under investigation for his association or membership in an alleged criminal organization.”
Last September 11, a Bandido named Stuart Cantara attended a “memorial motorcycle club event in Las Vegas, Nevada.” He was found there by two Vegas Metro cops who “claimed they ran Plaintiff Cantara’s motorcycle license plate and found that there was a warrant for his arrest. In fact, Plaintiff Cantara traveled to the event by car and had had the warrant quashed well before the September 11 event. Plaintiff Cantara was ultimately arrested by Officer Jackson and Detective Woosnam and booked on the allegedly outstanding arrest warrant. Defendants Officer Jackson, Detective Woosnam and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department therefore violated Plaintiff Cantara’s First Amendment right to liberty by enforcing a warrant they knew to be false, invalid or that did not exist.”
The law suit has been assigned to Judge Kent J. Dawson and Magistrate Judge Cam Ferenbach. The complaint does not demand a jury trial. The plaintiffs have not yet responded to the suit and will have three weeks to do so. They will respond because if they do not they will lose the suit by default.