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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: Dale Champine

Biker cites gender disorder at sentencing

A Sandpoint biker awaiting trial on charges of recruiting criminal gang members was drawn to crime because of a rare gender disorder that causes him to be self conscious about his masculinity, his lawyer says.

Dale Michael Champine, 42, (right) suffers from epilepsy, bi-polar disorder, depression and an extra sex chromosome from hypogonadism and Klinefelter's Syndrome, which causes him to develop female phsyical attributes “and associated psychological challenges,” according to documents prepared by Missoula lawyer Johnna Baffa, who represented him on a federal conspiracy charge.

 Champine was sentenced in Missoula last Thursday to five years of probation and six months of home arrest for a federal conspiracy charge involving the transportation of a motorcycle across state lines. Baffa cited his disorder as a reason to keep him out of a federal prison, where she said he faced significant risk because of his abnormal physical characteristics.

“…Even when treated, he continues to display the physical symptoms of hypogonadism which place him at a significant risk of harm if incarcerated,” Baffa wrote.

Champine was born with the syndrome but not diagnosed until his late 30s. Even as he began establishing a masculine identity, Champine's “physical development betrayed him,” Baffa wrote. He found acceptance in the Hermanos motorcycle gang.

 “As his mother points out in her letter, it may have been that he sought acceptance by this group not only for camaraderies, but as a way to be perceived as more masculine, all while struggling with a medical condition that forced his body to develop a more femine appearance,” Baffa wrote.

“In his constant search for acceptance by himself and others, Mr. Champine has 'acted out' in ways that have often resulted in criminal conduct. As his mother acknowledges, he is constantly seeking to be viewed and accepted as a more masculine person, leading him to act in ways that he perceives as 'masculine' or 'tough,'” Baffa continued. “Unfortunately, such behavior had landed him in the midst of the crminal justice system.”

Champine is scheduled to stand trial next month in Bonner County District Court on a felony charge of recruiting criminal gang members. He and other Hermanos members were arrested last fall as part of a long-term investigation by the Bonner County Sheriff's Office. The Hermanos group is a chapter of the international Bandidos outlaw biker gang.

Also charged is Hermanos member Steven Jay Beal (left), who is awaiting sentencing in U.S. District Court in Montana for the stolen motorcycle case.

Hermanos associate Paul Leslie Spencer, 57, (right) was convicted last week of conspiracy in relation to the stolen bike. Bonner County detectives bought the stolen bike's motor form Spencer last August. Beal told them it was stolen and suggested burying the cases with identification numbers on his property, according to court documents.

Spencer faces up to five years in prison. The men, who were indicted in January, are to pay a combined restitution of $6,695 to cover the cost of the stolen motorcycle.

Sandpoint bikers indicted in Montana

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Three men arrested during a raid on the Hermanos biker gang in Sandpoint last fall have been indicted by a federal grand jury in Montana.

Hermanos road captain Steven Jay Beal (keft), member Dale Michael Champine (right), 41, and close associate Paul Leslie Spencer are charged with conspiracy to traffick in stolen property in a sealed indictment in U.S. District Court in Missoula, said Sgt. Marty Ryan with the Bonner County Sheriff's Office.

 Champine was arrested when he arrived at the Kootenai County courthouse last week for a hearing on an unrelated charge for allegedly damaging a psychiatric room at Kootenai Medical Center in 2008.

Beal was arrested at his work, Fantastic Sam's in Ponderay. 

Spencer (left) remains at large, Ryan said.

Champine and Beal are expected to appear in federal court in Montana shortly. The men already face drug and stolen property charges in Bonner County District Court. Champine and Beal also are charged with recruiting criminal gang members, a felony implemented in Idaho in 2006.

Ryan said he can't say if more federal indictments are expected.

“This has been a constantly evolving investigation,” Ryan said. 

The yearlong investigation, dubbed Operation New Hight, culminated last fall when more than 20 people, including five members of the biker gang, were charged in what Ryan describes as an ongoing criminal conspiracy involving the Hermanos motorcycle gang, a chapter of the international Bandidos outlaw biker gang.

Ryan said the Hermanos are “foot soldiers” for a larger operation.

About a month after the raids, a suspected Bandidos motorcycle gang member was arrested on Interstate 90 with a large bag of marijuana, according to a warrant used to search his 2006 Harley Davidson Ultra Glide motorcycle.

Matthew T. Lantz, of Rye, Colo., was released from jail on his own recognizance after appearing in Superior Court on a felony drug charge, but the charge has not been filed. Lantz, 42, was wearing a Bandido's motorcycle club sweatshirt when he was stopped for speeding at milepost 291 on Oct. 22 told a Washington State Patrol trooper that he “was an associate to the club,” according to the warrant.

Lantz's driver's license was suspended, and the trooper found a small bag of marijuana and a glass pipe with burnt pot inside.  While photographing evidence, the trooper heard Lantz say “I just picked up the load at the Kon Tiki at State Line Village and was taking it to…well, never mind,” according to the warrant.

Investigators say they found five ziplock bags weighing about 600 grams, or about 1.3 pounds.

It's unclear if Lantz is connected to the Sandpoint case, in which arrests included a restaurant owner and waitresses and Hermanos local president Bryan M. Lukezich,who is out of jail on bond awaiting an August trial.

Of the 26 indictments in Bonner County, 19 were for drug-related offenses.

Brenda Smith, wife of Hermanos sergeant at arms James Ray Smith, said Bonner County authorities are unfairly targeting them because they ride motorcycles.

“The only type of education they have on motorcycle gangs is what they saw on the History Channel,” Smith said.

She said investigators did not find drugs when they arrested her husband but seized clothing associated with the Hermanos.

“The drugs indictments have nothing to do with our club,” she said after her husband's arrest. “We are being profiled and this is wrong.”

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