The Star Witness

August 20, 2019

All Posts, News

The Star Witness

So far the star witness in the continuing trial of eight members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club has been a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy named Agostino Brancato. Brancato is a long-time member of the venerable, Los Angeles-based “One Percenter Task Force” which is directly responsible or tangentially involved with most of the biker investigations you have heard about including but hardly limited to: Operations Ivan, Black Biscuit, Black Rain, 22 Green and Pure Luck.

The trial in Las Vegas began as Operation Pure Luck but that does not mean that the current case against former Vagos president Pastor Palafox and Albert Lopez and six others is logical or reasonable. The government is trying to win a case by any means necessary. So, it is also impossible to describe what the One Percenter Task Force does in terms that don’t describe fascism.

The One Percenter Task Force is a monster that has hatched many eggs over the last two decades. It has become an investigative franchise that has spread beyond the West Coast, Nevada and Arizona to Texas, Florida, Colorado and the Northeast and from there to Europe and Australia. It is the new normal. Criminologists call it proactive policing. It is a lab partner of what Phillip K. Dick caled future crime.

The point of the franchise is to get policemen paid. It does that by defining what philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt called “objective enemies.” At one point, since World War II, the objective enemies were communists, or people who might have been communists. Now the enemies of choice are people who call themselves “one percenters.”

One Percenters

One percenters are a police state policeman’s wet dream. They are a snap to infiltrate. They are fun to be around. Because they don’t inform on one another they are easy to charge with conspiracy. Because they are honest and think other people are too they are easy to entrap. They have deadly enemies so they are often armed. The work is easy. The overtime is great. And the investigations are always labor intensive. When one or four or more cops join a motorcycle club they come with professional snitches, wives who are also cops, friends or associates who are also cops and an elaborate, expensive support infrastructure.

All these cops try to construct a plausible argument that their targets are indictable criminals. The first indictment is always superseded because the investigation is always just a first draft. While, as cops like to say, the investigation continues the press is fed a succession of exciting stories about the sordid world of the one percenters. They are often good stories. They are just always government lies. They are fascinating lies like the old radio series I Was a Communist for the FBI or the television series that succeeded it, titled I Led 3 Lives, spelled just like that. But Tom Swift and The Visitor From Planet X was a good story, too. And it was more true than United States v. Palafox. Saying something does not make it true.

The press rarely takes a skeptical look at these cases. In the last 20 years it has only happened once, in 1999, when the Denver Post actually examined the extravagant claims the ATF made about an infiltration of the Sons of Silence.

Got Bugs

Usually biker cases don’t go to trial. Usually they are settled administratively, by plea deal. Usually, the only cases that go to court are prosecutorial slam dunks. When they are not, like the trial of Bandidos officers Jeff Pike and John Portillo in 2018, prosecutors pull out all the stops. That one was a toxic brew made of an amoral prosecutor, a fatuous judge and unconquerable pretrial publicity. “Jeff Pike: Texas’s Own Tony Soprano” the Texas Monthly proclaimed.

So far, Brancato has been testifying for a week. Most of that time he has testified about very many $20 drug deals. He has said he told many Vagos that he “owned a exterminating business, Sonny’s Exterminating, and, as I previously testified, that I trafficked – or I was a cartel courier…that I trafficked 10 kilos of cocaine from the West Coast to the East Coast.

“Now, starting with the exterminating story,” prosecutor Tracey Batson wondered. “Did you ever have to perform that for…during your time as a Vagos member?”

“Yes. You know, everybody wants something for free, so they asked if I could exterminate their residence where they lived.”

“Okay. And what did you do as their exterminator?”

“I exterminated their residence with tap water.”

“You didn’t use chemicals?”

“No, ma’am.”

See This $1,000

Later Brancato testified about another betrayal of his friends. He gave them the opportunity to pick up a quick thousand dollars each by simply keeping him safe while he picked up a cocaine shipment. They agreed so they became the major drug dealers everybody in America is scared of. It wasn’t Brancato’s fault. He remained free from sin.

“Yes, I gave them the opportunity to make $1,000; and I also gave them the opportunity not to do it several times. I gave them several outs. I told them they didn’t need to do it if they didn’t want to. But they agreed.” In psychology that is called an acquiescent yes.

The other defendants, besides Palafox and Lopez, are Albert Perez, James Gillespie, Ernesto Gonzalez, Bradley Campos, Cesar Morales, and Diego Garcia.

Brancato’s cross examination began last Friday. So far he has been questioned by Mark Fleming who represents Lopez and Andrea Luem who is defending Perez. The cross examinations are likely to continue throughout the week.

Nobody will know what the jury is making of all this testimony for months.


27 Responses to “The Star Witness”

  1. BeelZEBub Says:

    @penguin etc….
    Jack Black’s You Just Can’t Win is a classic! So is Box Car Bertha’s book and Carl Panzaram’s Diary of a Murderer. As far as book reports comment,life is to be lived but also learned from the past or condemned to repeat it…..ala Jonestown. Right on as always Rebel and great books. P.S. anyone interested in those subjects should check out the art of Joe Coleman.

  2. Penguin Says:

    @ > SoCal


    As an aside, search term> “Will the Pentagon Be the Next U.S. Institution to Crash? ” (Pfaff) Me n’ Bill wuz friends.

  3. SoCal Says:

    Fuck all the book reports!! Get out and ride and LIVE life…

  4. Penguin Says:

    @ Sieg > (who wrote) “So, you’re abusing our host’s hospitality, is that what you’re saying?!?!?!” (addressing Penguin.)

    No, Sieg, certainly not. Rebel is a tolerant and gracious host and it is his salon. Taking a bit out of context and adding latent subjective ideas that are not there often results in faulty reasoning and incorrect assumption.

    Did you read Jack’s book? They say it was formative in establishing Wm Burroughs’ character – which is why I read it.

    In fact I am interested in reading (and buying) the books R has created. Like the fella said (Spooner?), it’s much easier to read than it is to write. If a man takes the effort to write it’s a good idea to at least look at an Nth text, eh? R’s work is on my list, obviously, as otherwise I would (also obviously) not be reading the article he posts…but his books remain a future pleasure, or soporific – we will discover our subjective opinions.

    (I too do a bit of writing, but there are few motorcycle stories I would repeat in public, so I try to stick to exposition and logic and avoid stories. Well, there was that time in Cloverdale when Dirty John leveled my .38 hammerback at a roughie… (what’s a “roughie”? Yeah you were not there… If you knew more about it you’d see things differently.(this is always true, and is a trick phrase))

    Who was “Speed Mullins?… (hint> West Coast Shows’ motordrome… (and though I knew him and have seen his scrap-books there does not seem to be any trace… I may write an essay about Speed Mullins…one of his wives might still be alive.

    Argument is not important man. Just now I am deep into Ghodsee’s “Left Side..”, Rodriguez’s “Bay of Pigs”, Alperovitz’s “The Decision to Use…”
    Roofing an addition to my workshop, late summer day rides (after it gets too hot) and re-reading Herodotus’ “Histories”. I’ll get to Rebel’s books as Time allows.

    And as I said, fine journalism. Thanks Rebel.

  5. commonsense Says:

    I read a book on this guy Sutton and he was a creeper coming into homes. If I recall he was not a violent man and some cops actually respected him. Do I have the wrong Sutton ?

  6. Phuquehed Says:

    The only good pigs, are those not breathing. Their rats/snitches need to all test the warning label on a plastic bag also.

  7. Sieg Says:

    Penguin Says:
    August 24, 2019 at 2:05 pm
    I have read none of Rebel’s books.

    So, you’re abusing our host’s hospitality, is that what you’re saying?!?!?!

  8. Shovel Says:

    Penguin Says: August 24, 2019 at 2:05 pm “…Your assumption(s) are, alas, not valid. Like I said, Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted, or maybe not…Didja ever read “You Can’t Win” by Jack Black?”

    You’re right. That’s why I don’t bet; I always lose. I’m adding Jack Black to my list of Outlaws along with Robert Burns who wrote I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A GEORGIA CHAIN [CLUB.] Burns was also a veteran – go figure. Filling the “Gap.”

  9. Penguin Says:

    I have read none of Rebel’s books. Your assumption(s) are, alas, not valid. Like I said, Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted, or maybe not.

    They do sound worth reading, though. I have trouble, sometimes, sleeping, or not, depending on the book.

    Didja ever read “You Can’t Win” by Jack Black?

  10. Shovel Says:

    On Saturday 24 August 2019 at 6:46 am
    Penguin Said:

    “Willie Sutton is supposed to have said that he robbed banks
    because that was where they kept the money…” So Penguin,
    after having read all 5 of the erudite Aging Rebel’s
    extensively researched books (even the one from Belgium – Out
    Bad), assuming that you too, have perused even one of them (and
    I do presume all), would you agree that Rebel left a gap in his
    Frontier timeline? Wyatt Earpp died on January 13, 1929 (aged
    80) in Los Angeles, California, Atzlan (1969, Aberto Baltazar
    Urista Heredia, “El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan”). Yet, as you
    can tell from American history, Outlaws did not disappear until
    The Outlaws Motorcycle Club (American Outlaws Association)
    started in 1935 in McCook, Illinois, United States of America.
    If the Outlaws don’t count as outlaws, is there a gap between
    1929 and 1947 when The 13 Rebels, The Pissed Off Bastards of
    Bloomington, The Boozefighters, The Market Street Commandos, The
    Top Hatters Motorcycle Club, and The Galloping Goose Motorcycle
    Club started the 1%ers at Hollister, Atzlan? Were Sutton,
    Dillinger, Nelson, Barker, and Karpis real American outlaws or

    Read Aging Rebel’s books.

    Willie Sutton:

    1922 acquitted on murder.
    1926 convicted of safecracking.
    1930 robbed 1st bank.

    The Dillinger Club:

    1924 – 1933 robbed 24 banks
    and 4 police stations.

    1934 Dillinger murdered.

    The Nelson Club:

    November 27, 1934 Nelson murdered.

    The Barker-Karpis Club:

    1935 Barker murdered.

    1965+/- 1979 Karpis taught Charlie
    Manson to play the guitar.

  11. Penguin Says:

    Willie Sutton is supposed to have said that he robbed banks because that was where they kept the money…I have an old true story (with a relevant lesson)from the goldrush days about a real train robbery near Sacramento. It comes through the years as a family story (there a sheriff back there somewhere’s). Two guys get on the train and it huffs down the Valley toward Stockton. There’s a deputy they don’t know about, the desperadoes stand one at each end of the car. In swampy wild country they stand up and pull out their cannons. Deputy stands and shoots dead the guy facing him, whereupon the remaining desperado shoots the deputy dead and robs the train and the people, gets a fat bag of gold coin, escapes off the train, which clatters slowly away. He buried the swag, ‘cept for a bit of party money, and headed to the cathouses of West Sacramento, where a Madam set him up with a nice pair of ladies and bourbon, and called the cops. He escaped again, and at one point held deathly still in a tree looking down at a deputy on horseback, hammer back revolver in hand. We know this because he said so to that same deputy down at the Courthouse, in the hallway. They were both nice men, and polite. He told the Deputy, “If you had looked up…” The swag? Alas…unknown to the Desperado he’d been observed through the murky swampfogs of the Delta by a bum. Of course the bum immediately dug up the swag. The Pinkertons caught the guy, years later, about the time the money was all spent, at a swanky New York Hotel with a pair of pretty girls…

    The lessons? Not every plan survives first contact. And often somebody’s watching.

  12. Penguin Says:


    Rebel, that’s beautiful journalism. Kudos. Superb. As before, I am fascinated by the reach, trans-national. Good Job!

    Agree, is Fascist. And self-evidently entrapment, ergo illegal. We are talking about copcrime, not bikercrime. Frankly it looks a lot like the “fourth Reich” on acid…many delusions an’ all. Truth is a crime, or “Nothing is Forbidden, Everything is permitted….while a superstasi record everything forever… Wm Burroughs would see “Anoxia and Innerzone” and write cynical stories of depraved…oh, wait, he did. He did. (Anoxia and Time of Useful Consciousness are related, they say)

    Gary Webb and also Alfred McCoy have demonstrated the facts behind the dope business well enough that we can see the overall form. The cops work for the bosses of the dope business and their wealthy elite golfing pals, like Epstein and Busher… They’re playing The Old Army Game on the People… (See Sally of the Sawdust and The Old Army Game for a good grasp of this lost practical and political concept)

    The idea that this condition, in which we find ourselves, is stable… Well it ain’t, is it?

  13. 78Airhead Says:

    On the anniversary of that ugly day at Ruby Ridge in 92, OK to point out the BATF fake biker that got Randy Weaver’s wife and son killed?

  14. No one important Says:

    @Gandalf, spot on! As for the other point paladin was making about not to take the free apple, that sounds like a cop trying to justify entrapment. Just sayin…

  15. Neuro Says:

    Ahoy !!

  16. Gandalf Says:

    @ Paladin; I got your point. You said, “Don’t sell drugs… Rob banks” Thanks for the great advice… #RiskReward

  17. Paladin Says:

    @ @ David;

    Sadly; You missed my point entirely.


  18. Ben Says:

    In reference to my earlier post, this is the headline, “An Armored Truck Spilled Thousands of Dollars on an Atlanta Highway. What Would You Do?

    More than a dozen drivers pulled over to scoop up some of an estimated $175,000 that blew out of a Garda truck on Interstate 285, the authorities said. They are asking for it to be returned.” I would like to add that there are laws to protect individuals from temptation. Those individuals are cops and the laws define bribery of a police officer as a crime. If the power of temptation is so great that laws were needed to protect cops from it, why not citizens also? Why should there be a double standard?

  19. david Says:

    @ Paladin

    Am almost 100 % carnivore, and don’t take any meat from strangers.Back to the fascist prick pigs, the main subject of the article.

    The illustrious, LA based, fascist, self-serving,”Task”-FORCE pricks are actually secret-police, as in Nazi Germany, with the “tasks” of SECRET infiltration, entrapment, framing AND, dissolution of MC’s. Anything goes with them, for to them, the end “justifies” the means and methods. Yet,the financial means to do ALL this shit is not out of pocket, but provided by the very same public the cock-suckers are trying to frame.

    As to the fascist propaganda “free” press, specifically the illustrious Texas Monthly magazine’s chop-job on Jeff Pike.

    Texas Monthly, when it set the narrative for alleged MC criminality, was OWNED by Genesis Park, the Houston-based private equity investment firm founded by Paul Hobby, which paid 25 million for it in 2016. Hobby, former Chairman of the Houston Branch of the private,international and domestic banker owned, operated and controlled Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas AND, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas 1989-1992, controlled Texas Monthly content.

    Deeper still,the fucking that is, in early 2019 Bar member attorney Paul Hobby, CEO of Genesis Park, retained the largest investment bank in the world, Goldman Sachs to “assist” in the sale of Texas Monthly to the new BILLION-aire owner, Randa Duncan Williams, the 9th wealthiest person in Texas with an estimated net worth of 6.4 BILLION according to Forbes. Was unable to find former U.S. Attorney and Board Chairman of Houston Branch of the fucking, privately-owned Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Paul Hobby’s net worth, but it may so great it cannot BE estimated.

    Texas Monthly magazine has received no less than 14 National Magazine Awards for “journalism”,meaning for propagandizing and propagating the lies against NC’s.It’s received 14 awards which are the journalistic equivalent of 14 Oscars in LA.

    It’s said, money talks, yet when LARGE money OWNS and operates both government AND media, the dominant ruling ultra-rich elite stack EVERYTHING in their favor, and use their wealth to fuck everyone else.

  20. Stevo Says:

    Are we learning yet?

    How many of these professional con men have entered multiple clubs and betrayed multiple people?


  21. Paladin Says:

    @ David;

    If when traveling through life’s many forests, someone offers you as nice, shiny, red apple, the answer is always: no.

    Long May You Ride,


  22. david Says:

    Make work by L-EnFORCE-ment, for job security FOR pigs, includes unlawful ENTRAPMENT ,by the same pigs. Otherwise known as, pay to incriminate, AND criminalize.

    The psychological term of the “acquiescent yes” agreement to be body guards for the LA deputy while HE commits a crime, is overshadowed or trumped by the UN-LAWFUL entrapment tactics by pigs, in the pig war against MC’s.

    As to the comment: Risks outweigh rewards, due to law en-Force-ment “working full time” against “amateurs” working part time; If entrapment can now be referred to as professional “work”, then pigs’ acceptance of bribes can be called “receiving donations”, and pigs putting plastic bags over suspects’ heads, ” warning label testing”.

  23. oldskewl Says:

    If I were on the jury I’d be wondering how they know so much about some bikers but still don’t know a damn thing about the Las Vegas shooter…


  24. Paladin Says:

    In the early days of western train travel the Reno brothers hit on a novel idea, the robbing of trains. At the time, trains were easy pickings and soon a number of others followed the Reno brother’s into the train robbing business. The Reno brothers operated in southern Indiana. The Farrington’s robbed trains in Kentucky and Tennessee, and Jesse James and his crew worked the rails in the Midwestern states.

    The boosting of trains peaked in the 1890s. It was then that law enforcement finally got in front of the curve and started putting lawmen and soldiers on board to protect the trains. Railroad companies also hired their own private detectives (the Pinkerton Agency) as well. At that point the risks far outweighed the rewards and by the turn of the century, the robbing of trains ceased to be the problem it once was.

    In the early days, drug running / dealing posed minimal risks. As in train robbing, law enforcement was ill equipped to deal with this new level of Entrepreneurship. However; law enforcement has been ahead of the curve on drug dealing for quite some time, more so when it comes to small time operators. MCs are especially vulnerable, as law enforcement considers them to be ‘low hanging fruit’.

    The point to all of this is that these days the risks far outweigh the reward. Law enforcement is working full time against amateurs that are working part time. Anyone thinking about getting into the weasel dust business might want to think about trying their hand at something where the reward outweighs the risk.

    My post is not directed at anyone involved in this case or any specific individual for that matter. I’ve been following this case and I am of the opinion that before being tendered an offer of employment by the LVPD or the One Percenter Task Force, an applicant must first fail the polygraph exam.


  25. No on important Says:

    Thank you Rebel for the the honest reporting. 20+ years ago it was “la cosa nostra”. The past decade or so has been one percenters. Within the next two decades they’ll go after groups who support the 2nd amendment and following that will be people who practice religious beliefs. 50 years from now we’ll be the U.S.S.A if something doesn’t change.

  26. xplor Says:

    Agostino Brancato, an LASD officer deputized by ATF, falsified a drug transaction report and “manufactured crime” by coercing an unwilling Halgat to traffic drugs—all allegedly with Brancato’s ATF supervisor’s knowledge.

  27. Ben Says:

    There should be a law that cops can’t offer money to people to commit real or imaginary crimes. In doing this, the cops foster criminality. Temptation is something that’s a part of human nature. Recently, there was a news story about many thousands of dollars, in currency, flying out of an armored car, while it was moving along a highway. The highway became a parking lot, when everyone stopped to scoop up the cash. The crowds were frenetic, and they were just ordinary people, a random cross-section of citizenry. Yet instantaneously, they turned criminal at the sight of money. Afterward, the local authorities warned that they had video of people taking the loot, and they should turn it in, OR ELSE! Commentators on the story said that people could bring in a little of their stash, and keep the rest, because the video won’t show how much they took. If the defendants were tempted by the $1000, they haven’t done anything that anyone else hasn’t done, in one way or another.

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