Hells Angels in court
Dozens of Hells Angel's bikers showed up in federal court Friday to face charges of racketeering, attempted murder and gun violations. The appearance comes one day after attorneys for some of the men asked the State of Nevada Supreme Court to throw out state charges against them. The two different cases stem from the murder-melee at the Harrah's Laughlin Casino on April 27, 2002.
Prosecutors say three gang members died as a result of the shooting and stabbing among rival Hells Angels and Mongols. They are now facing charges in both district and federal court. Two Hells Angels and one Mongol were killed in the brawl inside the Harrah's Laughlin Casino more than three years ago.
Twelve men were charged with murder in district court based on a conspiracy theory that the rival gangs acted as a group and are all responsible for the deaths. Defense attorneys argued that theory in front of the State Supreme Court on Nov. 17. A ruling is pending. But those attorneys, plus dozens more of their Hells Angels clients, were back in court Nov. 18 this time facing federal gun, attempted murder and racketeering charges.
Defense attorney David Chesnoff says, "The government takes the position that this is a criminal organization, when in reality it is a motorcycle club. The government has forgotten the presumption of innocence. But fortunately, we have juries and we are looking forward to a trial."
The federal case involves 32 counts against 44 Hells Angels members only.
Defense attorney Bret Whipple says, "I don't understand that at all. There are two separate groups of people who got into a fight. There were some weapons used, not by my client. I don't understand how the prosecution chose to prosecute one group and not that with another?"
The theory is because the Mongols were allegedly staying at the Harrah's Laughlin casino, authorities believe the Hells Angels were looking to pick a fight. The Mongols could be called to testify against their enemies at the federal case.
The first group of defendants are expected in court at the end of January 2006. That means that the district court case of murder may never be heard because the federal case supercedes the state case. It would ultimately be up to the district court judge to decide whether to proceed with the case. But everything is also dependent on the State Supreme Court ruling, which could take months.
Each was accused of 19 counts of federal violence in the aid of racketeering, racketeering-attempted murder and racketeering-assault, plus 13 counts of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Two others named Oct. 25 in a superseding indictment remained fugitives: Frederick Donahue, 40, of Rodeo, Calif., and Jorrg Maykopf of Germany.
Arraignments were rescheduled next month for Jeffrey Carney, 44, of Kirkland, Wash.; George Walters, 48, of Kingman, Ariz.; Brian Wendt, 28, of Tulare, Calif.; and Rick Fabel, 48, of Spokane, Wash.
Patrick Kalabolas, 57, of Las Vegas, waived arraignment Friday. A lawyer for William Spearman, 63, of Anchorage, Alaska, entered Spearman's not guilty plea.
Most defendants remained free on bond pending trial:
Charles Acosta, 30, Oakland, Calif.
Robert Anello, 51, Petaluma, Calif.
Ron Arnone, 41, Tacoma, Wash.
Matthew Carlock, 31, San Pablo, Calif.
Matt Comach, 40, Novato, Calif.
Rodney Cox, 43, Phoenix, in custody.
Steve Eades, 41, Martinez, Calif.
Montgomery David Elliott, 52, Anchorage, Alaska.
Maurice "Pete" Eunice, 54, Lakeside, Calif.
Raymond Foakes, 42, Petaluma, Calif.
Shawn Frazer, 35, Pinole, Calif.
James Hannigan, 38, Mountain View, Calif.
Justin Harrah , 35, Watsonville, Calif.
Keith Hixon, 31, Auburn, Calif.
Wayne Hodges, 54, San Francisco.
Eiland Hogan, 24, Roseville, Calif.
Michael Hurn, 55, Anchorage, Alaska .
Charlie Hyde, 51, Simi Valley, Calif.
Ricky Jenks, 28, no address given.
Edward Laigo, 57, Atwater, Calif., in custody.
Daniel LaJocies, 42, Modesto, Calif, in custody.
Dale Leedom, 43, Two Rivers, Alaska.
Jesse Mahon, 26, Carmichael, Calif.
Michael Mills, 47, Wenatchee, Wash.
Jeff Morales, 47, Corona, Calif.
Steven Pearce, 51, Silverdale, Wash.
Jason Peterson, 31, San Francisco.
Sohn Regas, 38, Reno.
Daniel Roay, 47, San Pablo, Calif.
Calvin Schaefer, 36, Chandler, Ariz.
Donald Smith, 55, Bullhead City, Ariz.
Michael Smullen, 48, Pinole, Calif.
David Steely, 38, Concord, Calif.
John Ward, 44, Phoenix.
Brian Wolff,42, Spokane, Wash.
Jeff Zarate, 54, Los Angeles.