The federal civil rights lawsuit brought by the Southern Nevada Confederation of Clubs and numerous individual complainants against various Las Vegas area police departments including the notorious Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and the North Las Vegas Police Department has grown.
The lawsuit now lists 32 separate “claims for relief.” Each claim, by an individual, seeks a “sum in excess of $75,000 for damages” and a similar amount in punitive damages plus a “a reasonable sum as attorneys’ fees, costs of suit and interest.” So it is now a $5 million lawsuit and unless Southern Nevada police stop singling out motorcycle club members for harassment the amount sought will grow.
The complainants are represented by Las Vegas lawyer Stephen P. Stubbs. The suit 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 original suit, brought last June, alleged two serious incidents of harassment against the Mongols Motorcycle Club; an incident involving the Vagos Motorcycle Club; illegal persecution of the Stray Cats Motorcycle Club; and incidents involving members of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club named Joseph Pitka and Stuart Cantara. You can read The Aging Rebel’s original report on the lawsuit here.
The amended complaint cites additional incidents involving members of the Mongols, Bandidos and Down & Dirty Motorcycle Clubs. The suit is reinforced by documents that seem to prove that police and politicians in Boulder City, Nevada intended to deprive visitors during the Mongols National Run last June of their constitutional rights.
Police Make The Law
For example, the suit cites an email written by Boulder City, Nevada “Intel/Gang/Graffiti Crimes Detective Scott Pastore” that closes with the words, “The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”
In that email dated June 27 Pastore writes: “Just wanted to say thank you to all of you for a job well done. Everyone made an impact on keeping our city free of OMG rallies such as these. Will OMG bikers come to BC, yes. But, only as they normally do in packs of three or four. I don’t anticipate another rally based on the results. However if they do then we will welcome them the same way we did this year. In all it was a great learning experience for all of us in dealing with OMG groups.” It is unconstitutional for a policeman to enforce a self-authored decree that his city will be “free” of any lawfully assembling group. It is also rare for a cop to be so feeble-minded as to make such a statement in writing
An email written a few days earlier by Boulder City Police Chief Thomas W. Finn to two other officers of the court clearly illustrates that officials who are supposed to uphold the law conspired to break it in order harass motorcycle club members out of town. Finn writes Municipal Court Judge Victor Miller and City Attorney Dave Olsen: “There will be several dozen law enforcement agencies working in BC this weekend for the Mongols event. We are taking a zero tolerance approach with them and all the agencies will be citing them into our municipal court ofr ordinance violations, traffic violations and other misdemeanors. Is there a specific date you want us to use for a court appearance?
“Also, as part of our zero tolerance approach, all the law enforcement agencies have asked if our court and prosecutor would consider ‘no deals’ when the misdemeanors are adjudicated. Doing so would make it clear to the ‘Mongol Miscreants’ that Boulder City does not tolerate bad behavior.”
According to the suit: “During the (national run) event, on three separate occasions, officers of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department entered the Boulder Inn and Suites (the Mongols hotel) without a warrant or probable cause, despite clear notice to law enforcement that the property was closed to the public and requests that they leave the property. Attorney Stephen Stubbs and the owner of the Boulder Inn Suites went to the Boulder City Police Department to register a complaint in connection with these activities but were ignored and ultimately left without filing their complaint. Attorney Stephen Stubbs later reached Chief Finn by telephone to report the trespass and Chief Finn told Attorney Stubbs to ‘quit bitching.’ Chief Finn refused to let Attorney Stubbs document the trespass complaint.
The suit also alleges: “Mongols member, Rafael Garcia Espinoza, and his fiancée, paralegal and law school graduate, Lynn Vilpondo, were also in attendance that weekend. Ms. Vilpondo was stopped by Las Vegas Metro officers while walking down the street for allegedly appearing to look like someone Metro was looking for. Ms. Vilpondo identified herself and was subsequently detained by Las Vegas Metro officers without cause. Mr. Garcia expressed his frustration over Ms. Vilpondo’s detention, and was subsequently cited by Las Vegas Metro for allegedly using profanity while protesting.”
Also that weekend: “While attending the Mongols national gathering in Boulder City, Mongols member, George Olivo, crossed Nevada Way on foot when he was suddenly detained by Las Vegas Metro officers. Nevada Way had just been repaved and did not yet have any lines painted on the roadway. The reason given for the detention was suspicion of jaywalking. Mr. Olivo was asked for his name, which Mr. Olivo provided.
“Shortly thereafter, a second officer, Detective Woosnam, approached Mr. Olivo and likewise asked for his name, to which Mr. Olivo responded that he had already provided this information to the other officer. Detective Woosnam then arrested Mr. Olivo for obstruction of a police officer, violation of NRS 171.123, (failure to identify oneself), and public drunkenness pursuant to a Boulder City ordinance that has been preempted by NRS 458.260, which provides that it not unlawful to be intoxicated in public. Detective Woosman did not conduct a sobriety test or otherwise obtain any evidence whatsoever of Mr. Olivo’s allegedly state of intoxication. Mr. Olivo was released on bail 24-hours after his arrest.
“Shortly after Mr. Olivo was arrested, his wife, Nancy Laura, was traveling to Boulder City for the event in a truck with a non-operational motorcycle in the back. Ms. Laura was pulled over by Detective Woosnam for no apparent reason, without a warrant or probable cause. Detective Woosnam threatened to confiscate a motorcycle in Ms. Laura’s vehicle, but ultimately did not after the owner of the motorcycle returned from California (barely beating the tow truck) and demonstrated necessary documentation for the parts on the motorcycle. Before leaving, Detective Woosnam informed Ms. Laura that Mr. Olivo was too drunk to stand at the time of his arrest, which assertion is contrary to the evidence.”
No Steenking Fifth Amendment
In another example of police contempt for the law the amended suit cites “Mongols member, Charles Christopher Gulas,” who “attended the 2012 Laughlin River Run held April 25 – 29, 2012.
“During the event, Mr. Gulas was detained for openly carrying a buck knife on his person. Following his detention, Mr. Gulas gave the detaining officer a business card identifying Stephen Stubbs, Esq. as his attorney. This business card contains writing asserting Mr. Gulas’s Constitutional rights on the back, including his Constitutional right to remain silent and to his 5th Amendment right to counsel.
“The detaining officer read the back of the card and returned the business card to Mr. Gulas. Mr. Gulas in turn promptly handed the card to the officer once again, which was again refused. The officer then attempted a custodial interrogation of Mr. Gulas, completely ignoring Mr. Gulas’s assertions of his Constitutional rights. The officer threatened Mr. Gulas with arrest if Mr, Gulas did not surrender the Buck knife, even though Mr. Gulas was lawfully open-carrying the knife. The officer confiscated the Buck knife.”
Cops Can Go Anywhere
Earlier that month, “On or about April 14, 2012, the Bandidos Motorcycle Club held an event at the Eagles Lodge in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Eagles Lodge has a private, fenced parking area where the attending members parked their motorcycles while attending the event. There is a second parking area (inside of the first parking area) that is has additional fencing and a clearly posted sign that states ‘Members Only.’ James Gear, Jeff Ohm, and Dan Berstead, stood by the entrance to the second parking area, limiting admission to invitees and assisting with parking.
“Las Vegas Metro Officer Quinteros, badge #P9755, unlawfully entered the private parking area in a grey Honda Accord with California license plate number 3UOG418, breaking through the yellow taped barrier, ignoring the ‘Members Only’ sign, and despite being signaled to stop at the entrance. Officer Quinteros admitted that he entered the area notwithstanding the Club’s refusal to admit him, nearly running down Mr. Gear, Mr. Ohm and Mr. Berstead in the process.
“Officer Quinteros was followed by Officers Yatomi, badge #4602; Fink, badge #8904; Tripp, badge #6731; and Doughly, badge #13358. The officers did not have a warrant or probable cause to enter the private parking area. The officers were asked to leave by Attorney Stephen Stubbs, two Eagles Lodge trustees, and the Eagles Lodge president, James Kimsey. The officers responded that they have a right to go anywhere they want on the property, and only left after taking down the license plate numbers of all the vehicles within the private parking area.”
The suit also tells the tale of Jerald Murillo who, “traveled to Laughlin on or about the weekend of May 1, 2011, to hang around the Mongols Motorcycle Club, to meet with family, and attend the motorcycle run held there that weekend.
“While there, he was detained by an officer of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, and ultimately arrested. Mr. Murillo asked the officer why he was being arrested and what he was being charged with, which resulted in his being told to shut up, then violently slammed against a police car by the arresting officer and handcuffed.
“After some time passed, the officer allowed Mr. Murillo to exit the police car and asked Mr. Murillo to sign a paper before he would be released. Mr. Murillo did not have his reading glasses and refused to sign something he could not read. Mr. Murillo requested that the officer allow him to retrieve his reading glasses. At that point, the officer told Mr. Murillo that he was being arrested and proceeded to put Mr. Murillo back in the police car. In addition to sustaining a cut to his face from earlier entering the police car, the officer pushed Mr. Murillo into the police car the second time and purposefully slammed the door on Mr. Murillo’s foot, resulting in a fracture, bruising and swelling which required treatment.”
Down And Dirty Sexual Assault
Another incident added to the original complaint occurred on or about May 12, 2012 when Down & Dirty Motorcycle Club members Stacey Frongillo and Michael ‘Mike’ Edwards were planning a charity event held by the Club to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. When they left the event location, they were followed by Las Vegas Metro officers, among them Officers Fink and T. Pandulo, badge #7884.
“Ms. Frongillo and Mr. Edwards were pulled over by the Las Vegas Metro officers at the intersection of Arville Street and West Russell Road for allegedly failing to signal. Officer Pandulo informed Ms. Frongillo that he intended to pat her down. Ms. Frongillo requested that if a pat-down were necessary, that it be conducted by a female officer. Officer Pandulo denied Ms. Frongillo’s request, and refused to even check to see if a female officer was available. Officer Pandulo insisted on conducting the pat-down himself.
“Ms. Frongillo, who was wearing skin tight pants, could not possibly hide a weapon of any kind on her person. Officer Pandulo proceeded with the pat-down, running the back of his hand across s. Frongillo’s crotch areas and down the front of her thighs. Officer Pandillo then ran the palms of his hands down Ms. Frongillo’s buttocks, slowly and firmly pressing against Ms. Frongillo’s buttocks and thighs (which) Ms. Frongillo found extremely offensive. Officer Pandulo took no interest in the pack of cigarettes and lighter showing through Ms. Frongillo’s front pockets.”