As the months roll by there is virtually no action in the sprawling, racketeering case in Detroit against about four dozen members, associates and acquaintances of the Devils Diciples Motorcycle Club. There have been 108 filings in the case since August 1, which works out to about three filings per defendant and most of those items have been completely procedural. There has been one filing so far this month. That filing, today, cancelled a status conference that had been scheduled for Monday
The central case in this Mongolian cluster of love is called United States v. Scott William Sutherland, et al. It started as a felon in possession of a gun case in March 2011. The first Sutherland indictment was superseded in May 2011 and charged Ronald Raymond “Rockin’ Ronnie” Roberts with the same crime. The third superseding indictment, charging dozens of defendants with dozens of crimes dating back to the waning days of disco, was unsealed July 13.
Twenty-six people are free on bond in the Sutherland case. They are: William Scott Lonsby, John Charles Scudder, David Roy Delong, Michael John Palazzola, Dean Anthony Tagliavia, Clifford Chansel Rhodes II, Raymond Charles Melioli, Ronald Leon Lambert, Howard Joseph Quant, Scott Thomas Perkins, Lauri Ann Ledford, Paula Mileha Friscioni, Timothy Paul Downs, Jennifer Lee Cicola, Ronald Nick Preletz, Danny Russell Burby, Jr., Alexis Catherine May, Edward Allen Taylor, Dean Edward Jakiel, Michael Kenneth Rich, John Renny Riede, Sylvester Gerard Wesaw, Christopher Raymond Cook, Michael William Mastromatteo, Gary Lee Nelson and Tony Wayne Kitchens.
Seven of the accused have been denied bail and they are: Jeff Garvin Smith, Victor Carlos Castano, Jason Joseph Cook, Wayne Russell Werth, Paul Anthony Darrah, David Randy Drozdowski and Vernon Nelson Rich.
So far there has been no obvious indication that the defense attorneys are cooperating among themselves. As recently as August 22 the nominal lead defendant, Scott William “Scotty Z” Sutherland, was still requesting any materials the government may be holding that might prove he is actually innocent.
The government moved to consolidate Sutherland with two other federal racketeering cases featuring Devils Diciples. Those cases are United States v. Jeff Garvin Smith, et al. and United States v. Smiley Villa. Villa is charged with the same assault in two of the indictments. The government told Judge Robert H. Cleland that he should consolidate the three cases “in order to promote docket efficiency, bring together overlapping pre-trial matters in complex cases, and conserve judicial resources.”
Federal prosecutors also told the judge that “the cases have common defendants and common facts” and that “it is clear that there will be overlapping pre-trial matters, including discovery schedules and issues, plea negotiations, evidentiary matters, and pre-trial motions.”
However, at the same time prosecutors asked the judge to “consolidate” the cases they asked him not to “join” them “until the parties have had an opportunity to conduct preliminary discovery and plea negotiations.” The power word here is probably “plea.” Federal racketeering prosecutions against motorcycle clubs almost always boil down to withholding evidence, sowing rumor and confusion and coercing defendants into plea deals.
At the same time prosecutors want to sorta, kinda, maybe link “common defendants and common facts” they also hope hope to divide defendants into four groups. That is to facilitate more efficient “case management.”
It is a tell that the Department of Justice would like four separate and sequential trials so the good guys can perfect their dirty games and tricks as they go along. Prosecutors filed their memorandum proposing the groupings on August 24 and so far not a single defender has found a thing to officially say about it.
The defendants chosen by their accusers to join prestigious group one are Jeff Smith, Paul Darrah, Cary Vandiver, Michael Mastromatteo, Vernon Rich, Victor Castano, Michael Rich, Dean Jakiel, Edward Taylor, William Lonsby and Keith McFadden.
The government has selected Scott Sutherland, Ronald Roberts, David Roberts, Patrick McKeoun, Vincent Witort, John Riede, Gary Nelson, Raymond Melioli, Timothy Downs and Tony Kitchens for group two.
David Drozdowski, Smiley Villa, Slyvester Wesaw, Howard Quant, Scott Perkins, Clifford Rhodes, Christopher Cook, Jason Cook, Salvatore Battaglia and Wayne Werth will be group three unless some defense attorney sometime tries to talk the judge out of it.
And, Ronald Preletz, David Delong, Michael Palazzola, Danny Burby, Ronald Lambert, Lauri Ledford, Jennifer Cicola, Dean Tagliavia, Alexis May, Paula Friscioni and John Scudder will be lumped together as group four.