Two of the undercover ATF agents who “infiltrated” the Mongols Motorcycle Club from about June 2005 until October 2008 testified yesterday at the big, not very newsworthy racketeering trial in Orange County California.
The trial is tedious for anyone to witness so it must be tedious for the jurors chained to their seats day after day. There has been virtually no press coverage of the trial so far because what is going on is almost impossible for anyone who hasn’t been following the case for the last ten years to understand. The Southern California News Group managed to describe the case like this: “Notorious Mongols Motorcycle Club fighting U.S. government to keep its vest patch.” Then after that the collection of newspapers had nothing.
NBC managed to blurt out, “Prosecutors Seek to Strip Mongols Motorcycle Club of its Logo in Racketeering Trial” before it got tongue tied
Motorcycle Club Solution
What is happening here this month, and perhaps for months to come, is the trial the government would have had about nine years ago in a case called United States versus Cavazos and others if prosecuting attorneys Steven Welk and Christopher Brunwin hadn’t tripped over their own feet in a hurry to get to the forfeiture phase of the case. One of the government attorneys then, probably Welk or U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien, thought he had found a solution to the “motorcycle gang problem.”
It was so simple!
Outlaw the Mongols and all the other outlaws by ripping their distinctive insignia “off their backs.” Make them illegal, as agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would later advise foreign policemen in places like Australia to do. It didn’t work here because this country’s Constitution generally recognizes that people are free to say what they want and wear what they want. There wasn’t a trial in 2009 for two reasons – the First Amendment and the plea bargaining system.
About nine years ago I managed to trap Brunwin in an elevator in this same building for however long it takes to drop nine floors. I asked him, “What makes you think the Mongols is a criminal organization.?”
He answered, “It has been proven time and again.”
“Defendant after defendant has admitted it in writing.”
“In their plea bargaining agreements?”
“With the words you wrote for them to say?”
Then Brunwin very quickly walked away from me and he hasn’t dared to talk to me since.
Brunwin and Welk spent the autumn of 2008 and the first half of 2009 coercing Mongols defendants into signing plea deals. Basically, if they signed a confession written by Brunwin, they could go home. If not, they faced at least 20 years in prison. Almost everybody took the deal and those confessions that the Mongols was a “criminal enterprise” might have allowed the forfeiture of the Mongols patch if it wasn’t unconstitutional. What the government is doing now is holding the trial it might have had in 2009 with, mostly, the same witnesses and the same testimony it would have used then.
Russo And Painter
Yesterday, the prosecutors offered the jury testimony from two of the undercover agents who began infiltrating the Mongols in 2005, Gregory “Russo” Gaioni and Paul “Painter” D’Angelo. Both men found their infiltration hard. They hung around for 29 months. At one point they were told to go away. They finally prospected in November 2007 and patched into the club the next February. The remained Mongols for a little more than nine months.
Everybody except the guys at the very top of the club seemed to know they were policemen.
William “Target” Owens, the president of the Mongols Ventura chapter saw a photograph of ATF agent Darrin “Dirty Dan” Kozlowski in a book about another ATF Mongols infiltration titled Under and Alone. Owens reported what he knew to then club vice-president Rubin “Lil Rubes” Cavazos. Lil Rubes refused to believe that Kozlowski was an undercover agent. He told Owens to “shut up.”
Dirty White Boy
Owens was the first victim of the ATF infiltration. All the agents were introduced to the motorcycle club by a Mongol named T. J. Stansbury who had been caught selling anabolic steroids through the mail. Case agent John Ciccone, who is a facile and charming man, offered Stansbury a way out.
Stansbury begged Owens to find him a pound of methamphetamine because otherwise Gaioni would kill him.
On May 4, 2006 Owens finally got Stansbury 23 grams of meth. Owens is a tattoo artist. He helped lower Stansbury’s debt by tattooing “Dirty White Boy” across Gaioni’s chest. Four years later, at his sentencing hearing, Brunwin said Owens had provided Standbury with “2200 street doses” of crank. Judge David O. Carter, the presiding judge in the current case, sentenced Owens to 66 months in prison.
A Mongol named Peter “Bouncer” Soto became suspicious of both D’Angelo and Gaioni after they refused to ride into Mexico. After that Soto, who was close to both club president Doc Cavazos and his son Lil Rubes, assumed they were cops. He started calling them the “TJs,” Southern California slang for Tijuana.
“They were so far up Doc’s ass all the time, you know,” Soto said in an interview with The Aging Rebel while he was a fugitive in Mexico. “I figured even if they were cops what difference did it make by then. Shit. What did they have?”
Later all three undercover agents were administered lie detector tests before they were allowed to prospect. Yesterday, under oath, Gaioni testified that the only Mongol who was suspicious of him was named Andres “Rascal” Rodriguez. Rodriguez was suspicious of the undercover agents because they kept buying so many drugs at over market prices from Mongols.
Another Mongol who was suspicious of Gaioni in particular was named Denis “Steaky” Maldonado. Maldonado remembered that Gaioni had arrested him on a gun charge four years before. Maldonado wanted to talk to him. The two men were supposed to meet at a gentlemen’s club called Nicola’s on the evening of April 7-8 2007. Gaioni did not make it that night because, he explained yesterday, somebody he was riding with was involved in a motorcycle accident.
Meanwhile, Maldonado got into a fight with members of an East LA street clique named Gage Maravilla, He shot a man and was immediately arrested. He wound up being sentenced to 126 months in prison.
“So we never met up,” Gaioni casually explained.
John Ciccone, was both the case agent on the investigation and he was present at the shooting. There has been a stink about the incident because Ciccone and an ATF Tactical Field Officer named Chris Cervantes witnessed the shooting and could have stopped it but did nothing to prevent it. Yesterday, Mongols attorney Joe Yanny suggested that Ciccone might have set the incident up to protect Gaioni’s infiltration.
One of the questions asked when the three undercover agents took their lie detector tests was “Are you a cop?”
The Mongol who asked the question was Mike Munz, who was the president of the San Diego chapter.
Munz wore what Brunwin keeps called a “murder patch” on his vest. Gaioni and Welk refer to it as a “skull and crossbones patch.” Nobody on the prosecution will admit to knowing how Munz acquired his “murder patch” except to say that he got it for “murdering a Hells Angel.”
But it wasn’t like that. It was grayer with age than that.
Bill Michael “Mike” Munz, according to testimony, was an abused child who grew up to be a frightening man. A psychiatrist testified that he suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy which resulted in something called Intermittent Explosive Disorder. He seemed to at least four undercover ATF agentsto be a man who might explode. Gaioni said he was afraid of Munz.
In 1982, 36 years ago, during a ferocious and well-documented feud between the Mongols and the Hells Angels, Munz killed a San Diego Hells Angel named Raymond “Fat Ray” Piltz. Piltz was among three Hells Angels who machine gunned two Mongols named Emerson “Redbeard” Morris and Raymond “Jingles” Smith and the two women riding behind them on their motorcycles in 1977 – five years before Munz “murdered for the Mongols.” Piltz has been alleged, by George Christie and others, to have actually pulled the trigger. Munz was convicted of involuntary manslaughter, sentenced to six years in prison and was released after serving three. That was how Munz got his “murder patch” 36 years ago.
Lies Of Omission
But neither of the prosecutors knows this or cares to know this. They are both perfectly willing to be as ignorant as they have to be to get a conviction. They are after the patch and they want to accomplish that by saying “murder patch” to the jury at least ten times a day.
None of this has anything to do with what the Mongols Motorcycle Club is now or what the world is now. All of this trial is about what the Mongols once were – particularly what they once were when Doc Cavazos was president – just before Brunwin and Welk missed their chance at a very sensational, reputation enhancing show trial.
Now the prosecutors act like men who got drunk at their victory party and fell asleep for years only to discover the cruel truth that they have not yet quite won.
Long ago, about the time “Fat Ray” Piltz was shooting Jingles Smith and Redbeard Morris off their motorcycles, on the other side of the country, bars in South Boston put out jars labelled “Give to the IRA.” Most of the Boston Irish only knew the old country from their grandfathers. Those grandfathers remembered the Ireland of the Easter Rising 60 years before. Even Whitey Bulger gave generously and bought a fishing boat to ship guns back to “home.”
But it was no longer the same Ireland. It was no longer the same IRA. Everything had changed except in some old men’s memories, in the bloody stories they told their sons and grandsons and in the loyalty the young men gave to the old.
Yesterday, Special Agent Gaioni told the jury about the Hollister Riot in 1947.
One can only hope the case against the Mongols doesn’t last for 60 years. One can only wonder why Brunwin and Welk keep insisting that the world has not changed for 70 years, 40 years, 20 years, 10 years.. One can only wonder why their memories are so selective and so full of holes. Who do they think they knew who died? What have the men they want to outlaw ever done to them? Why? Why?
Turn it up.