The federal racketeering case against the Hells Angels’ Rock Hell City Nomad charter in South Carolina is probably going to trial February 11, 2013. The judge who will preside over the case, Cameron McGowan Currie, issued a scheduling order last month telling prosecutors to turn over most of their evidence to the defendants by September 17. A source in Charleston with knowledge of the case said, “she really wants…to try this case in February.”
The 91-count indictment that is the basis for the criminal charges was delivered to Judge Currie on May 17 and unsealed June 7. The accused are Daniel Eugene “Diamond Dan” Bifield; Mark William “Lightening” Baker; David Channing “Gravel Dave” Oiler; Bruce James “Bruce-Bruce” Long; Richard “Little Mark” Thrower; David “Yard Owl” Pryor; James Frederick “Big Fred” Keach, Jr.; Frank “Big Frank” Enriquez, Jr.; Donald “Brooklyn Donnie” Boersma; Lisa Ellen Bifield; Johanna Looper; Kerry Chitwood; Carlos Hernandez; Ronald Dean “Big Ron” Byrum, Jr.; Trent Allen Brown; Bruce Ranson “Diesel” Wilson; Thomas McManus “Uncle Tom” Plyler; Jamie Hobbs Long; and Somying “Ying”Anderson. The case is named after Dan Bifield.
The indictment alleges 43 firearms offenses, 30 separate acts of narcotics possession or distribution, 18 acts of money laundering related to drug and firearms sales and additional allegations of conspiracy to extort as well as accusations of prostitution, arson and trafficking in stolen property. The indictment obliquely accuses this Hells Angels charter of attempting to bully its way to a larger, local market share of contraband sales.
Prosecutors characterize most of the three-year-long investigation that preceded the indictment as a “sting,” which is what the brown suits like to call a con game. The word “sting” is intended to suggest that government con men are really Paul Newman and Robert Redford in disguise. And, the government is sometimes obliged to prove that even though the victims of stings were tricked into breaking the law by the law the victims were really “predisposed” to break the law anyway: But, not always.
The accusations in most RICO cases against motorcycle clubs are measured out in briefcase loads with an initial indictment followed by one or three or more superseding indictments. The additional indictments always add either charges or defendants and are intended to harass and delay defenders. In this case, Currie has already stated in open court that she will consider severing the present case from any superseding indictments in order to keep the trial on schedule. In Bifield, delays may work to the advantage of defense attorneys if not incarcerated defendants. The long investigation relied heavily on what now appears to have been three paid confidential informants. And, one of those Quislings is now seriously ill.
Judge Currie has officially described the case as “complex.” Complex litigations can spiral out of control as was the case in the Mongols complex case, U.S. v. Cavazos et al. That case killed its first judge, the fondly remembered Florence-Marie Cooper, just as she was starting to catch on. The government’s evidence in Cavazos included about 10,100 pages of documents, 356 Compact Discs and 110 Digital Video Discs.
The evidence, including possible evidence and rumors of evidence, in Bifield is not nearly that daunting but it is still substantial. There were six, 60-day wiretaps during the South Carolina investigation. As of August 23 the government had given defendants about 5,000 pages of documents and two terabytes of audio and video surveillance. There are at least 3,000 audio files that amount to more than 256 hours of surveillance. The video discovered to date includes six million frames. Most of the video is from four cameras at the “sting location.” The cameras ran continuously so most of that video actually incriminates ticking clocks and dirty glasses. It is now up to the defendants to find the incriminating parts that prosecutors will actually use. There will undoubtedly be more surveillance and documents discovered in the next two weeks.
In her scheduling order, Currie wrote: “In order to provide access to the discovery materials for Defendants, there will be two complete sets of discovery materials provided to the United States Marshal in Columbia. These materials will be maintained at the local detention centers and made available to the Defendants in custody for viewing there, upon reasonable request, and in accordance with the policies and procedures of the local detention center. No discovery documents may be kept in custody of the Defendants following viewing but Defendants will be permitted to take notes.”
Last week Daniel Bifield’s attorney, Allen B. Burnside, filed a motion to compel “the government to identify the exhibits they intend to introduce during their case in chief in the above-captioned case by no later than October 1, 2012.” It is a creative notion that is obviously in the spirit of justice. The game playing prosecutors have already said that they are “unaware of any rule or statute through which the court could order the government to identify which parts of the discovery it intended to offer at trial.” In his motion Burnside cited a case management order in U.S. v. WR Grace, a giant and complex asbestos case with hundreds of thousands of parties.
Currie may rule as early as this week on whether prosecutors have to actually show defendants the needles or if they only have to grandly wave their document cases in the general direction of the haystacks.
Defenders have also approached former Western Carolina University professor William L. Dulaney about testifying in this case. Dulaney is a former member of the American Outlaws Association who has become a common source for journalists seeking insight into the motorcycle club world. He has appeared on The National Geographic Channel, The History Channel and The Biography Channel. He contributed an essay to The Mammoth Book of Bikers and wrote a well known “history of outlaw motorcycle clubs” for The International Journal of Motorcycle Studies. He is currently in Senegal.
Dulaney is a swashbuckling academic who clearly gets motorcycle clubs and he may provide an antidote to the usual “biker gang experts” like Anthony Tait, Jorge Gil-Blanco and, of course, ATF agent John Ciccone. Dulaney recently participated in a case in Las Vegas. He has not yet agreed to participate in this case and he has not yet been voir dired (or qualified) by anyone connected to the Rock Hell City case. But the fact that he has been contacted clearly demonstrates that the defense attorneys in South Carolina get what it will take to win.