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Hells Angels president sentenced to 90 months

 (The Spokesman-Review)
Fabel (The Spokesman-Review)

Richard “Smilin’ Rick” Fabel, the president of the Spokane-based chapter of the Hells Angels, will be in a federal prison until 2012 under terms of a sentence he received Monday in U.S. District Court.

The 50-year-old outlaw motorcycle gang leader was convicted June 11 of federal racketeering and conspiracy charges at the end of a 10-week jury trial in Seattle. Two other Hells Angels, who also were convicted, will be sentenced later this year.

At Monday’s sentencing, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik said Fabel controlled a criminal enterprise based in Spokane “that preyed on vulnerable people.”

“Fabel recruited violent criminals into the club and rewarded them for criminal behavior that enriched and enhanced the club,” the judge said.

The judge also said Fabel and the other Hells Angels had excellent legal representation from a team of defense attorneys appointed by the court at a cost to federal taxpayers of $2 million.

When asked if he wanted to address the court, Fabel said very little and did not apologize or express regret for the crimes. Fabel said he had been a Hells Angel for 20 years and would remain faithful to that brotherhood. The courtroom was packed with about 40 patch-wearing Hells Angels from throughout the West Coast.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike Lang, one of three federal prosecutors who handled the case, told the court that Fabel used sophisticated schemes to commit crimes, “relying on the power and intimidation of the Hells Angels.”

Fabel was a master of “taking what he wanted from whoever he wanted and having his gang of thugs to get away with it,” Lang said.

The U.S. attorney’s office recommended a 10-year sentence, but the judge settled on 90 months to be followed by three years of supervised release. When he’s on supervised release, Fabel will be barred from associating with other Hells Angels. He also was ordered to pay $55,000 restitution to an insurance company.

Fabel has been in custody since February 2006, when he was arrested at his home in northwest Spokane. With credit for time served and good behavior in prison, he should be eligible for release in 2012.

Initially, the Justice Department’s indictment also sought forfeiture of the Hells Angels Washington Nomads clubhouse, located at 1308 E. Sprague Ave.

After the jury deliberated three weeks before convicting Fabel and two of three other defendants, the U.S. attorney’s office decided to withdraw the forfeiture count. That eliminated the need for the jury to return for a second phase of forfeiture deliberations.

“At that point the jury was exhausted, and we felt we’d accomplished our goals by getting RICO convictions against three of the four defendants we charged,” Lang said.

Co-defendant Rodney Lee Rollness, 46, of Snohomish, Wash., was convicted of multiple racketeering counts and VICAR – violent crime in aid of racketeering, which carries a mandatory life sentence – when he is sentenced Oct. 18.

Rollness was found guilty for the racketeering act of murder in the 2001 shooting death of Michael Walsh.

Joshua Binder, 31, of North Bend, Wash., was convicted by the jury of conspiracy to commit racketeering acts and attempted interference with commerce. The jury deadlocked on other charges against Binder. On July 23, rather than face retrial, he pleaded guilty to another federal racketeering count associated with Walsh’s murder. Binder faces 13 to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced Dec. 19.

The jury deadlocked on charges against the fourth defendant, Ricky Jenks. Prosecutors haven’t said whether he will face retrial.

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