The Hells Angels racketeering trial in Columbia, South Carolina ended almost a month ago but the arguments continue to echo.
On March 14, a jury found three members of the Rock Hell City Nomads charter of the Hells Angels, Mark William Baker, David Channing Oiler and Bruce James Long (pictured above), guilty of multiple charges including racketeering conspiracy and narcotics conspiracy. A fourth member of the club, Thomas McManus Plyler, was found innocent of all the charges against him. Now Long’s attorney, Joshua Snow Kendrick, has filed a motion asking the judge in that trial, Cameron McGowan Currie, to either acquit Long of racketeering conspiracy and narcotics conspiracy or grant him a new trial.
The government investigation that led to a racketeering indictment against a score of people would have been fruitless except for the efforts of a paid informer named Joe Dillulio.
The investigation began as an attempt to “get” a long time Hells Angel named Daniel “Diamond Dan” Bifield. After spending decades in prison Bifield, who was from Connecticut, was released in South Carolina. He came under almost immediate government surveillance. As his road name suggests, Bifield has a fondness for jewelry. And, an FBI agent named Devon Mahoney recruited Dillulio after seeing Bifield walk into Dillulio’s jewelry store.
Dillulio presented himself to Bifield and Bifield’s friends as a small time criminal with connections to more important criminals in New York. He then proceeded to tempt and entrap all the defendants in a series of schemes. Dillulio sought drugs and guns from his victims and asked for help from some of them to launder money from an imaginary drug stick-up.
Kendrick and the other defense attorneys hammered away at Dillulio throughout the trial. Kendrick argued that none of the alleged crimes would have occurred without Dillulio’s subterfuge. There is precedent in the Fourth Judicial District that a government employee like Dillulio cannot be considered a coconspirator under the racketeering statutes and that precedent led to the acquittal of all the defendants on racketeering charges.
The prosecution and the defense argued throughout the trial over what Dillulio’s entrapments actually meant. The prosecution told the jury that Dillulio merely opened a window into the way that Hells Angels charter conducted its criminal business so that outsiders could look inside. The defenders, and Kendrick in particular, argued that the gun and drug crimes only occurred because Dillulio tempted, begged and bribed the defendants into cooperating with him. In the end, the jury seemed ambivalent about who to believe but they sided with the prosecution about the conspiracy charges.
Now Kendrick is asking Currie to overrule the jury.
Kendrick’s motion on behalf of Bruce Long is technical and does not dispute that Dillulio led his client astray. It does dispute that Dillulio led Long into a drug and racketeering conspiracy. It argues:
“The Government presented evidence that Long delivered drugs to confidential informant Joe Dillulio on eight occasions between August 5, 2011 and December 16, 2011. There was also a failed attempt to obtain drugs for Dillulio on February 6, 2012. The Government presented no evidence that these transactions were anything other than ordinary drug deliveries made at the request of its own informant. There was no evidence Long ever offered to deliver drugs or was bringing the drugs in the course of an organized pattern or arrangement of deals. In fact, the deals had no relationship to each other beyond the fact they were all made at the request of Dillulio.”
“Because the deals were not related to the extent required by the precedent interpreting the RICO concept of “related”, the evidence on relatedness presented by the Government was not sufficient to send Count Two to the jury and the Court should enter a verdict of acquittal on that count.”
“More troubling is the lack of evidence presented on the “continuity” element required by RICO. RICO was not intended to cover garden variety claims of criminal activity. It is well-settled that RICO is a unique action concerned with organized, long-term, habitual criminal activity.”
“The Supreme Court was clear in describing congressional intent (when Congress passed the racketeering statutes in 1970.) . ‘Predicate acts extending over a few weeks or months and threatening no future criminal conduct do not satisfy this requirement: Congress was concerned in RICO with long-term criminal conduct.’ Id. If continuity cannot be established over a substantial period of time, it must depend on whether the threat of continuity is demonstrated. Id.”
“In the instant case, the Government has presented evidence that Long was involved in criminal activity for a period of six months. There is no evidence Long was involved in criminal activity prior to August of 2011 and no evidence Long was involved in criminal activity after February of 2012. In relation to Count 2, there is no evidence Long was involved in any agreement to commit any racketeering acts outside of this six month period. Six months is not the substantial amount of time required for a RICO pattern. In addition, the Government’s failure to show any evidence of continued criminal activity showed there was an end point to Long’s activity. Though Dillulio’s schemes continued on, Long quit participating in them.”
“However, there was no evidence anyone else was involved in the alleged agreement between Long and Dillulio. While the Government claimed co-defendant Dan Bifield may have suggested the sale of the guns to Dillulio, there was no evidence that suggestion had anything to do with the New York robbery. One of the many tapes presented by the Government reflected Bifield informing Dillulio that Long may have an AK-47 rifle to sell Dillulio. The evidence later reflected Long never possessed an AK-47. He did discuss an SKS rifle with Dillulio, which he later sold to Dillulio. There was no evidence of any agreement between Long and Bifield, or any other defendant, to facilitate the sale of the SKS. It was simply a transaction between Long and government informant Dillulio.”
“The money laundering scheme followed an even less conspiratorial pattern. This matter came about at the behest of Dillulio, who discussed the money laundering with Long. There was no one else involved in the transactions between Long and Dillulio. In fact, though Dillulio was engaged in similar money laundering activity with other defendants, he always insisted on secrecy. His acts with Long were entirely compartmentalized from acts with other defendants.”
In other words, no Dillulio, no crimes. The commonality among all the charges in this case was not membership in a motorcycle club. What was common in the alleged crime wave was the FBI snitch.