Last week a jury in Riverside County in Southern California convicted a general contractor named James A. Bradley of making criminal threats and committing a felony as a member of a street gang. Bradley is a member of the Orange County charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.
Prosecutors immediately began to brag that they had successfully labeled the Angels a street gang. An Assistant District Attorney named Burke Strunsky said, ““The jury made it clear that the Hells Angels is a gang and will be defined as a criminal street gang under the law…I think what’s important is the Hells Angels was defined as a gang for the first time in Riverside County history.” The fiercely contested conviction was important to Strunsky, his co-council Jennifer Garcia and Bradley but it won’t matter very much the Hells Angels or any other motorcycle club.
Juries have previously called the Hells Angels a “street gang” in similar trials in Fresno, Ventura, San Diego and Los Angeles Counties. The label only mattered a little in those cases and was done mostly to generate publicity. Bradley’s conviction was a show trial and the Riverside County District Attorney calculated that there was more publicity to be gained by putting the Hells Angels on trial rather than the President of J.A. Bradley Construction & Restoration, Inc. in Temecula, California.
Bradley was convicted of making loud and intimidating threats against a tile contractor named Richard Masson and a cabinet maker named Ronald Krogstad in separate incidents in April and May of 2010.
Masson testified that Bradley said, “I owed him some money…. He said if you don’t pay me my money, motherfucker, I’ll have you murdered. I’m with the Hell’s Angels.”
Garcia told jurors that the two men became so frightened of the Hells Angels that their lives were ruined. “The Hells Angels have a culture of violence, a culture of intimidation and a culture of terror they inflict upon innocent people,” she claimed. “These two guys really thought they were going to die.”
Bradley was originally charged with grand theft, criminal street gang activity, possession of anabolic steroids, being a criminal street gang member in possession of firearms and three counts of making criminal threats, An alleged third victim named Rick Earnhart dropped the criminal threats allegation police attributed to him. Earnhart told Sarah Burge of the Riverside Press-Enterprise that police had “twisted” his words.
The jury found Bradley innocent of making the threats for the benefit of the Hells Angels.
Bradley had been free on a $75,000 bond. He was taken into custody after the verdict was read and he will be sentenced on November 8 by Judge Albert Wojcik. He faces up to five years in prison.