The way federal racketeering cases against motorcycle clubs typically proceed is by first accusing the defendants of everything and then using everything as evidence against them. The current case against the Devils Diciples Motorcycle Club illustrates the way the Department of Justice uses confusion, chaos and the threat of punishment to punish presumably innocent defendants before they are tried.
The Devils Diciples case is called United States v. Scott William Sutherland, et al. It began in March 2011 and has been engorged by superseding indictments in May 2011 and last July and by two related cases called United States v. Jeff Garvin Smith, et al. and United States v. Smiley Villa.
It is impossible to describe what this endlessly metastasizing case is actually about without being rude. Rudely put, it is about total victory by effete government bureaucrats over the alpha males of the DD. The government argues that in the last 50 years members of the club have murdered; beaten the disabled; produced, consumed and sold drugs; gotten in fights; lied to the police; participated in non-government sponsored lotteries; owned functioning slot machines without a casino license; bribed corrupt judges and cops; managed strippers; beaten their wives and girlfriends; belonged to the Devils Diciples; and ridden “powerful Harley-Davidson” motorcycles all on behalf of the Devils Diciples “racket.” There are 38 counts in all.
The charges against the defendants are so disparate and unrelated that the government has assigned all the defendants to one of four “groupings.” If you have a friend or relative caught up in the case you will want to know who is in which “group.” So:
Group One includes Jeff Smith, Paul Darrah, Cary Vandiver, Michael Mastromatteo, Vernon Rich, Victor Castano, Michael Rich, Dean Jakiel, Edward Taylor, William Lonsby and Keith McFadden.
Group Two includes Scott Sutherland, Ronald Roberts, David Roberts, Patrick McKeoun, Vincent Witort, John Riede, Gary Nelson, Raymond Melioli, Timothy Downs and Tony Kitchens.
Group Three includes David Drozdowski, Smiley Villa, Slyvester Wesaw, Howard Quant, Scott Perkins, Clifford Rhodes, Christopher Cook, Jason Cook, Salvatore Battaglia and Wayne Werth.
Group Four includes Ronald Preletz, David Delong, Michael Palazzola, Danny Burby, Ronald Lambert, Lauri Ledford, Jennifer Cicola, Dean Tagliavia, Alexis May, Paula Friscioni and John Scudder.
The prosecution has blatantly divided the “case” into four pieces in preparation for four sequential trials. It has nothing to do with seeking justice. It simply increases the odds that the government will win. It is like buying four lottery tickets instead of just one. The judge has not yet decided whether he will allow the defendants to be tried by group. He will decide that after the defendants eventually see the evidence the government will use against them.
In one procedural memorandum, attorneys wrote the judge, “the responses of Group 3 are limited by their lack of understanding of the criteria by which the Government has assigned defendants to the four groups.”
Five months after the third indictment was unsealed there is still no agreement on the volume of the evidence the government has against the defendants, let alone what that evidence actually is. One good estimate of the volume of that evidence is: 111 gigabytes of recorded conversations and other wiretaps; 3,000 pages of requests for wiretaps; 12,000 pages of search warrant affidavits and inventories; 500 pages of laboratory reports; 5,000 pages of “Grand Jury Subpoena related documents and testimony;” and 13,000 pages of investigative reports and other gossip.
Defense attorneys can only guess at the volume of information because none of them have yet seen any of it. The defenders are so overwhelmed by all this information and noise that they convinced the judge, Robert H. Cleland, to appoint a New York lawyer named Emma M. Greenwood as “Coordinating Discovery Attorney for the defendants.” Greenwood’s job will be to hire her own staff to organize and oversee the distribution of all of the potential evidence in an “effective and cost-efficient manner.”
There is still no trial date for the case. The next status conference is scheduled for January 7, 2013.