A federal judge has rejected a prosecutor’s request to hold a Canadian Hells Angel without bail on drug and money laundering charges.
Brian L. Hall, 43, will be allowed to leave the Spokane County Jail and return to British Columbia if he posts a $400,000 cash bond, Judge Wm. Fremming Nielsen ruled Tuesday.
Nielsen’s ruling upholds an early decision by Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno to grant Hall, a member of the notorious biker gang who fought extradition for nearly two years, bail under the condition he stay in contact with court officials and not contact biker gangs.
Federal prosecutors wanted Nielsen to reverse Imbrogno’s decision, arguing Hall is a flight risk, and that the cash bond is too low for a member of organized crime accused of laundering at least $180,000.
But Nielsen, like Imbrogno, ruled that Hall’s strong family ties, stable living situation, lack of a criminal history and work with two businesses outweigh concerns about his release.
Though a member of the Hells Angel, “there is insufficient evidence of substance abuse or dependency at this time,” Nielsen wrote. “Despite the nature of the charges, there is insufficient evidence that Mr. Hall presents a likely danger to the community should he be released.” Nielsen changed Hall’s release conditions to require $400,000 cash bond instead of $300,000 and to nix Imbrogno’s requirement that Hall’s grandparents post $100,000.
Hall’s charges are connected to $184,750 in U.S. currency seized by the Border Patrol in February 2003, as well as 1,200 pounds of marijuana seized by the DEA in April 2004.
A co-conspirator, David Sidwell, pleaded guilty in May 2009 to two marijuana charges and one count of attempting bulk cashing smuggling. He’s serving a 40-month prison sentence.
In court last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Smoot described the Canadian branch of the Hells Angels as “more business oriented than necessarily violence oriented.” “I think in fairness that needs to be said,” Smoot said.
Smoot questioned Hall’s offer to waive extradition, saying the waiver might not be acceptable because he signed it with the idea of release in mind.
Hall’s lawyer, Phillip Wetzel, said Hall was a highly paid mechanic who worked on big-rig trucks before getting injured and opening a motorcycle shop, Nitro Motion, and an excavation business.
There’s “not a suggestion or hint that he’s ever been involved in any intimidation or violence,” Wetzel said.
Hall remained in jail Tuesday night.