Investigators got the last joke on a member of the Gypsy Jokers motorcycle gang: They used the outlaw biker’s ex-wife to buy drugs from him.
Kenneth “Maynard” Williams, a longtime member of the Jokers who served time for a 1983 murder, now must serve five years in federal prison for selling methamphetamine.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Don Kresse said Friday he isn’t sure what motivated the defendant’s former wife, Rene Williams, to help investigators.
“She may have been jealous of the current Mrs. Williams,” Kresse said, “but I’m only guessing.”
Authorities weren’t guessing when they discussed possible reprisals against their informer by the Gypsy Jokers.
The gang has its national headquarters in Portland plus a handful of members in Spokane and the Tri-Cities.
“We offered to put her in the witness protection program, but she declined our offer,” Kresse said.
Rene Williams did, however, accept relocation money from the Department of Justice, and moved from the Tri-Cities, the federal prosecutor said.
She approached the Tri-Cities Metro Drug Task Force early last year with information about Williams’ drug dealing, court documents say.
Wearing a hidden tape recorder, she made five drug buys from her ex-husband in Kennewick.
Federal indictments also were filed against Williams’ current wife, Tonya Williams, and his mother, Jalita Williams, both of Kennewick.
The overwhelming evidence forced the 35-year-old Kennewick resident to plead guilty to one distribution count.
As part of the plea bargain, other distribution counts against Williams were dropped.
Prosecutors also agreed to dismiss similar federal charges brought against his current wife and mother.
“They are not a threat to the community and aren’t dealers like he was,” said Kresse. “He appeared to be their problem, and they were simply users.”
His federal term will be followed by three years of supervised release under a sentence handed down last week by U.S. District Judge Frem Nielsen.
Williams and another Gypsy Joker were arrested in 1983 for the death of a 32-year-old salesman near Camas, Wash.
The victim was beaten and shot three times in the head and chest. He was stabbed in the rectum with a pointed stick.
Williams pleaded guilty to first-degree assault and was sentenced to 40 years in prison. But he only served five years in state prison before moving to Kennewick in 1993.
Because he was caught selling drugs, his state parole could have been revoked. But, on Friday, the state’s Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board decided not to send him back to state prison because of the length of his federal sentence.