A Spokane County judge Friday refused to return about $18,000 to the leader of the Spokane’s Hells Angels motorcycle group.
Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza rejected Richard Fabel’s contention that money seized from his home last summer was taken without a proper search warrant.
Some of the money belongs to Fabel, president of the Spokane chapter of the biker group. The rest belongs to American Motorcycle, the shop Fabel manages.
Sheriff’s deputies seized the money last June during a search of Fabel’s home. They had obtained a search warrant based on allegations that Fabel harassed a witness in the murder trial of another Spokane Hells Angel.
During the search, police and sheriff’s deputies found small amounts of marijuana and crack. They later charged Fabel with possession of a controlled substance, but have not taken him to trial. He has insisted the drugs were planted there.
Police are also looking to get a court order forfeiting the $18,000 to the state, claiming the money would have been used by Fabel for making or selling drugs.
Fabel’s attorney, Bevan Maxey, argued that the money should not have been taken at all because police had not established probable cause supporting a search warrant.
Cozza denied the appeal and ordered Fabel to return to a Sheriff’s Department hearings officer, who must make a ruling on that same issue.
“What this case is really about is that he’s a Hells Angel,” Maxey told Cozza. “There have to be facts based on what he did, not on who he is.”
After Cozza’s ruling, Fabel said he’s convinced he’ll get the money back eventually.
“They’re just wasting taxpayer dollars on these games they’re playing.”
Fabel, 39, has no criminal record in Washington state.
He and four other Hells Angels went to trial last fall for intimidation of a witness and a county prosecutor. The case ended in a mistrial after jurors inappropriately discussed seeing a Hells Angel riding past the courthouse one night.
At the end of that trial, Judge Tari Eitzen also dismissed the charge against Fabel of intimidating a public official - in this case, a county deputy prosecutor.
Prosecutors have said they will retry Hells Angels Michael Cultis and Michael Wooster for intimidating the prosecutor, David Hearrean. They may also prosecute Hells Angel Timothy Myers and Fabel on charges of intimidating a witness.
A second trial has been tentatively set for early April.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo
Click here to comment on this story »