Closing arguments will begin today in the trial of four South Carolina men accused of participating in a criminal racket. The men are Mark William Baker, David Channing Oiler, Bruce James Long and Thomas McManus Plyler. All four are members of the Rock Hell Nomads charter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. Jury deliberations should begin tomorrow.
The trial began February 11 and was expected to continue until March 22. The prosecution rested its case last Friday. That same day Judge Cameron McGowan Currie dismissed charges against a fifth defendant, Donald Boersma, because the prosecution had failed to prove him guilty. A sixth defendant in the sprawling case, an alleged drug dealer named Carlos Hernandez, will stand trial beginning March 25.
The prosecution has been disintegrating throughout the trial. The Assistant United States Attorneys who brought the case, James Hunter May and Julius N. “Jay” Richardson, might want to next try opening a furniture store next because they appear to lack the ethics expected of professional prosecutors. Since the arrests of 20 suspects last June their conduct has epitomized what lawyer and author Wendy Kaminer, Pace Law School Professor Bennett L. Gershman and other distinguished advocates have called “Games Prosecutors Play.” For example, throughout this trial, the federal courthouse in Columbia has been surrounded by guards from the United States Department of Homeland Security in order to infect jurors with the delusion that the remaining defendants, because they are Hells Angels, endanger the judicial process. May and Richardson have claimed that members of the “prosecution team” received “death threats:” As Joseph McCarthy once waved a sheet of paper and claimed the State Department was riddled with communists.
The entire case has been McCarthyesque. Former lead defendant Daniel Bifield, who was coerced into accepting a guilty plea last December with the threat that his wife, former defendant Lisa Bifield, would never see her daughter again, has publically accused Richardson and May of misconduct. Dan Bifield has moved to withdraw his guilty plea. A hearing on that motion will be held April 11.
The end of the trial has been marred by sophistical arguments intended to use the power of the government to overwhelm the remaining four defendants. Last Saturday, Richardson filed an atrociously written motion to “preclude entrapment defense” by the four men on trial.
“None of the defendants can make a sufficient showing to permit entrapment to be submitted to the jury,” Richardson wrote. “First, a defendant must make an initial showing both that improper inducement occurred and that the defendant lacks predisposition. Each of these defendants fails on the first prong to show the required overreaching and improper government action in addition to mere solicitation…. As a result of defendants’ failure to even articulate what constitutes the required overreaching and improper government action prior to their engagement in illegal activity, entrapment should not be submitted to the jury. Additionally, however, these defendants have failed to make an initial production of evidence indicating a lack of predisposition.”
Despite the idiocratic and thuggish display outside the courthouse, the jury seems to understand that the defendants were tricked into acts they otherwise would not have committed by a con man named Joe Dillulio. Dillulio, in turn, was at the mercy of an unscrupulous FBI Agent named Devon P. Mahoney.
Sunday, the defense attorneys in the case – Jeffrey P. Bloom for Thomas Plyler, Joshua Snow Kendrick for Bruce Long, John Delgado for Mark Baker and W. Michael Duncan for Mark Oiler – all moved that the jury be instructed in the meaning of entrapment and to consider how their clients might have been entrapped.