Karl “King Karl” Twilleager, a member of the Ghost Riders Motorcycle Club from Spanaway, Washington was sentenced yesterday by a federal judge in Tacoma to five years in prison for possessing firearms and explosives. He had faced up to 20 years. Twilleager was arrested last June 13 and signed a plea deal on September 5.
Twilleager is 66 and suffers from Type II diabetes. He was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in 2005. He is a Vietnam veteran.
He was convicted of Second Degree Murder in state court in 1994 and was sentenced then to serve 12 years in prison.
Dueling Sentencing Memos
Twilleager’s case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. After searching a garage behind Twilleager’s home and a storage unit rented by him, ATF Agents recovered a total of 12 firearms and two sticks of emulsion explosives. Emulsion explosives comprise an oxidizer dissolved in water and dispersed in a fuel emulsion. Government agents described the garage as the “Ghost Riders Motorcycle Gang Clubhouse.”
According to the prosecution’s sentencing memorandum, Twilleager had planned to bomb “Uncle Sam’s Bar and Grill in Spanaway, known to be a favored hangout of a rival motorcycle gang, the Bandidos. This attack was to be in retaliation for Defendant Twilleager and about eight of his brother Ghost Riders having been tricked and assaulted at that very location on June 2, 2012.”
In his sentencing memo to the judge Twilleager’s attorney, James B. Feldman quoted William M. Dulaney who wrote: “What seems clear is that neither the American government nor society is attending to the effects of war on such individuals. Indeed it appears that no process exists by which combat veterans are able to assume their role as citizens, as people. Because of this lack of structured re-assimilation into American society, certain combat veterans have created over time a culture in which they are accepted as the people they have become. The outlaw motorcycle club structure can be seen as a society built along militaristic, hierarchal lines, a highly ordered, controlled and black and white world in which individuals may understand their role, their identity, their place in society.”
In the press release announcing the sentence, Jenny A. Durkan, the United States Attorney for the Western District of Washington claimed Twilleager was a danger to society.
“The possession of illegal firearms and explosives by violent felons endangers a whole community,” Durkan said in the release. “This defendant and his gang planned a violent attack on rivals that could have caused serious injuries or deaths. Innocent bystanders could have been caught up in the carnage. The very act of storing those explosives illegally in the storage locker posed risks to the community should they be stolen or ignite accidently.”
In his sentencing statement, Twilleager wrote: “…I wanted to take this opportunity to apologize for my crimes. I understand that my actions have consequences beyond their effect on my freedom. I am especially saddened by the distress, fear and anxiety my crimes have caused to my friend, Rose, who has suffered most from this. She has shown me only love and support an does not deserve what I have caused her.
“I understand that it may be difficult for the court to show me leniency considering my history but I am accepting a long prison term and only hope that my health will be good enough at the end of the sentence where I might still be able to enjoy some time while free.”