August 3, 2011 in City, News
Hells Angel pleads guilty to weapons charge
Hells Angels sergeant-at-arms Ricky W. Jenks pleaded guilty in federal court in Spokane today to a charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm, but the judge handling the case said he wants more time before accepting the plea.
U.S. District Court Judge Justin Quackenbush questioned why federal prosecutors accepted the plea agreement calling for only two years in prison when Jenks faced twice that prison time had the case proceeded to trial.
“I have indicated I have reservations about a two-year sentence given your criminal history,” Quackenbush told Jenks, who has two previous felony convictions, including one for manslaughter.
The judge ordered defense attorney Tracy Collins and Assistant U.S. Attorney Aine Ahmed to submit written arguments within a week as to why they agreed to the plea agreement.
If Quackenbush decides not to accept the agreement, the matter will be scheduled for trial, which was previously set to begin on Monday.
Ahmed said he understood that the agreed-upon sentencing recommendation is less than half the time Jenks faced at trial.
“Realistically, I can tell you the U.S. government’s primary concern is dragging people in here who don’t want to be here,” Ahmed said.
Quackenbush said he would not interject himself into the plea negotiations.
“I recognize the government has the right not to pursue this case,” he said. “It is my job to determine … if two years is a sufficient resolution to this case.”
At the hearing, Jenks, 33, acknowledged that one of several guns found at a March 3 raid of the motorcycle gang’s clubhouse at 1308 E. Sprague Ave. was his. Since he is a convicted felon, he’s barred from possessing guns or ammunition.
Jenks served as the gang’s sergeant-at-arms, which according to previous testimony meant that he served as the gang’s “enforcer.”
“I’ll accept your plea of guilty but reserve determination whether or not to accept the plea agreement,” Quackenbush said. He set sentencing for Oct. 7, provided he accepts the plea.
At the end of the hearing, Collins asked that the judge release Jenks for a short time or grant a furlough so that Jenks could help his girlfriend, who is undergoing a “difficult pregnancy.”
Quackenbush said he needed more information about the availability of other family members and a doctor’s explanation of her condition.
“The obvious concern is that Mr. Jenks is a longtime member of the Hells Angels. That in and of itself is not enough for me to reject a compassion release,” Quakenbush said. “But with the firearms found at the clubhouse, I would have reservations.”