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Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: motorcycle gangs

SWAT helps arrest biker assault suspect

The Spokane police SWAT team helped arrested a domestic violence suspect on Sunday after officers learned he might be armed and have ties to a local biker gang.

Jerry W. Clark, 40, was jailed on a second-degree assault charge.

Police were investigating a report that Clark had badly assaulted his girlfriend tried to conduct a traffic stop on Clark's car early Sunday, but he sped away before ditching his car and running, according to the Spokane Police Department.

Officers lost him, so the Spokane police Patrol Anti-Crime Team watched several locations throughout the day to try to find him. They spotted him returning to his home in the 1100 block of West Providence Avenue and was arrested.

He appeared in court today on charges of second-degree assault and eluding police.

Clark's criminal history includes an arrest when he was 25 for stealing children's toys. He also was kidnapped and assaulted when he was 22.

Charges dropped in biker gang case

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SANDPOINT — A North Idaho county is dropping criminal gang-recruitment charges against five people following an Idaho Supreme Court decision making it more difficult to prove the law was broken.

Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Shane Greenbank has moved to dismiss the charges against five people associated with the Hermanos Motorcycle Club, the Bonner County Daily Bee reports.

The Supreme Court upheld the recruitment law in January but said prosecutors would have to prove a person was drawn to a gang specifically to engage in criminal activity.

Read the rest of the story here.

Past coverage:

July 5: Biker cites gender disorder at sentencing

Jan. 18, 2011: Sandpoint bikers indicted in Montana

Oct. 11, 2010: Biker gang arrested in Bonner County drug sweep

Biker gang arrested in Idaho drug probe

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A yearlong drug investigation in Bonner County has led to the arrests of members of a local motorcycle gang and could result in the seizure of a houseboat and closure of a restaurant near Sandpoint’s landmark Long Bridge. 

More than 20 people, including five members of the biker gang, face charges in what investigators describe as an unprecedented case that began with an undercover drug probe last fall and led to infiltration of the Hermanos motorcycle gang, a chapter of the international Bandidos outlaw biker gang.

Undercover detectives developed relationships with area drug dealers to build credibility with the bikers. They learned of extensive criminal activity involving the Bandidos.  Bonner County sheriff’s Sgt. Marty Ryan called the Hermanos the “foot soldiers” for a larger operation.

A grand jury began issuing indictments in August. Arrests began last week with a series of raids in the Sandpoint and Ponderay areas.

Bryan M. Lukezich, (pictured) president of the Hermanos local chapter, faces a felony charge of recruiting gang members.

Read the rest of my story here.

Hells Angel’s federal bail greatly reduced

A Canadian Hells Angel in federal custody at the Spokane County Jail had his cash bail requirement drastically reduced Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Brian L. Hall, 43, will be allowed out of custody if he posts $100,00 cash bond and a $300,000 surety bond, not $400,000 cash as previously ordered. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno approved Hall’s request today.

Federal prosecutors, who appealed Imbrogno’s original decision to grant Hall bond, didn’t directly object to the request but said the change “turns the case bond amount in to a bail facilitation conditions, rather than an appearance assurance condition,” according to court documents.

Hall faces drug and money laundering charges for alleged crimes in 2003 and 2004. He fought extradition from Canada for nearly two years before arriving in Spokane in May.

Imbrogno cited Hall’s lack of criminal history and his strong family support when granting bond; Judge Fremming Nielsen later upheld her decision.

In a motion filed June 30, Hall’s lawyer, Todd Maybrown of Seattle, said Hall and his fiancee, Kristina Kieler, got $100,000 cash from a home equity loan and have obtained a $200,000 surety bond from Lacey O’Malley Bail bonds in Seattle  based on property a friend of Hall’s owns on Vancouver Island. The motion also says Kieler tried visiting Hall June 29 but was detained at the border “and interrogated for more than four hours.”

“The officers demanded to know how Mr. Hall would be able to post the bail that had been set by this Court,” according to the motion.

Past coverage:

June 9: Judge upholds Hells Angel’s release

June 2: Feds fight to keep Hells Angel in custody

Judge upholds Hells Angel’s jail release

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.

Past coverage:

June 2: Feds fight to keep Hells Angel in custody

Feds fight to keep Hells Angel in custody

A member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang who fought extradition to the United States for two years was granted bail by a U.S. magistrate in Spokane, but federal prosecutors are appealing the decision.

Brian Lee Hall, 43, has been in the Spokane County Jail since May 7, more than four years after a grand jury indicted him on marijuana and money laundering charges.

Hall, described in court documents as a full-patch member of the notorious biker gang, was arrested in British Columbia in 2008 and was in jail and on home-monitoring before consenting to extradition earlier this year.

Federal prosecutors want him held without bail, but his attorney successfully argued last week that he should be allowed to return to Canada before the charges are resolved.

A motion asking to reconsider Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno’s decision is to be argued on Thursday. Imbrogno cited Hall’s lack of criminal history and his strong family support when allowing him to post $400,000 bond - $300,000 from Hall and $100,000 from his grandparents, Howard and Lorna Bell - and leave the country. He’s required to check in with authorities and not contact motorcycle gangs.

A 19-page memorandum filed Monday by federal prosecutors says the letters from Hall’s friends and family presented to Imbrogno didn’t prove Hall isn’t a flight risk. It details several reasons to keep Hall behind bars, including the propensity of foreigners in drug cases to flee and the dangers associated with the Hells Angels.

“Rather than assert that the Defendant’s association with the Hells Angels should have no bearing on his request for release, defense counsel suggested that conditions of release could include no contacts with any Hells Angels members,” prosecutors wrote. “At the least, defense counsel’s suggestion presupposes the negative connotation associated with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club. At the most, it concedes the gang’s propensity for dangerous association.”

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.

Hall’s defense lawyer, Todd Maybrown of Seattle, filed a memorandum opposing the government’s request for detention today, calling the government’s request “self-serving.”

According to the document, Hall does not have a passport, worked in landscaping and lived in Abbotsford, B.C with his fiancee, Kristina Keiler, and her two young daughters before his arrest. Hall was a successful professional motorcycle rider when he joined the Hells Angels, his lawyer said.

“There is simply no basis to believe Mr. Hall represents any danger to the community,” according to the memo. “…Without any real evidence to supports its Motion for Detention, the Government is left to make wild and unsupported accusations.”

The motion is to be argued Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

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