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Ex-Hells Angel admits racketeering

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Binder (The Spokesman-Review)

A former Hells Angel from Spokane pleaded guilty Monday in Seattle to a federal racketeering charge that includes his involvement in a July 2001 club-related killing in Snohomish County in Western Washington.

Joshua Binder entered the guilty plea rather than face a possible retrial in U.S. District Court in Seattle, where he and three other Hells Angels stood trial this spring on Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization charges.

On June 11, a jury found Binder guilty of conspiracy to commit RICO and attempted interference with commerce through threats and violence. But the jury was deadlocked on other counts against him.

Binder’s plea Monday “resolves all the charges against him and he agrees not to appeal any of his convictions, including the crimes for which he was convicted at trial,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Lang said in a statement.

Under the plea agreement, Binder will face 13 to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced this fall by Judge Robert Lasnik, who accepted the guilty plea. If the judge sentences Binder outside that range, the prosecution or the defense could withdraw from the plea agreement.

According to the agreement, Binder admitted he was a member of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, Washington Nomads chapter, based in Spokane.

He admitted the club participated in criminal activity that crossed state lines. Further, Binder admitted that the club participated in a pattern of racketeering activity including the robbery of an Everett man and the 2001 killing of Michael “Santa” Walsh.

Both men were targeted by the Hells Angels because the club became aware they were holding themselves out to be Hells Angels members.

Binder admitted he was aware Walsh was going to be killed at a party in Snohomish County and that he was prepared to stop the intended victim from escaping. His plea agreement says Binder kept other people from coming to the scene and that he helped dispose of the body.

When asked by the judge if the plea agreement was an accurate statement of the facts, Binder replied, “Unfortunately, your honor, it is.” The defendant told the judge, “I want to get this behind me and get back to my family.”

Richard “Smilin’ Rick” Fabel, of Spokane, president of the Washington Hells Angels chapter, is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 17, along with ex-club member Rodney Lee Rollness, 46, of Snohomish, Wash.

The jury found Fabel, 49, guilty of racketeering, conspiracy to commit RICO and three racketeering acts – extortion, mail fraud and trafficking a stolen motorcycle. He is expected to face 10 years or more in prison because of his criminal history.

Rollness faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison. He was convicted of multiple counts including RICO, and Violent Crime in aid of Racketeering for the death of Walsh.

The jury deadlocked on charges brought against a fourth Hells Angel, Ricky Jenks. The U.S. Attorney’s Office hasn’t said whether it will seek to retry Jenks.

The case against the current and former Hells Angels members was the result of a lengthy investigation that included search of the organization’s clubhouse on East Sprague Avenue in Spokane. The investigation was conducted by the Monroe, Wash., Police Department, the Washington State Patrol, the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office homicide squad, the FBI and ATF.