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Posts Tagged ‘Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs’

authority1Imagine for a moment you purchase a new Harley Iron 883.  Before pulling away from the dealer to enjoy a nice spring day ride you slip on a black leather riding vest with a large Harley-Davidson embroidered logo.  Near the bottom of the logo there is a Milwaukee, WI rocker.  Your buddies have similar vest’s and all head out.  Your pleased with the “patch” because it’s public evidence that you’re wearing colors of allegiance to the motorcycle company and it represents a new wind in the face lifestyle.  As your group rolls north up the I-5 corridor you take notice of WSP signaling you to pull over. 

The officer states that your biker “clothing” is a dress code affiliation typical of outlaw motorcycle “gangs” and as part of their early gang identification tactics your name, license number/plate is entered into a new gang watch-list database.

Impossible?  Think again.  Washington state legislators are set to pass an “anti-gang bill” that includes funds for police anti-gang taskforces, increased penalties for gang-related crimes and increased recruitment penalties.  The bill defines a gang as “an association of three or more individuals who share a symbol or name either formally or informally and who’s members participate in a crime.”   Basically a police officer can accuse you of belonging to a gang.  There is no burden of proof and if your name is put into the database you have no due process and there is no judicial overview.  There is no method to appeal – nothing!

What about abuse?  It’s likely.  For example here is a video of WSP taking license plate information from motorcyclists who visited the state capital.  And on a day specifically pre-arranged as the annual motorcycle rights lobbying day (see previous posts at: Giving Bikers A Voice and Expect The Unexpected).  It’s fair to say there is a crucial difference between motorcyclists participating in the democratic process to support motorcycle rights vs. being painted as criminal operatives engaged in a range of criminal activities only because they ride a motorcycle. Imagine the public outcry or media scrutiny if gay-marriage advocates rallied at the capital and WSP “stalked” around attendee vehicles for the purpose of entering licenses into a tracking database?!

Of course there is nothing funny about any of this.  The hard core criminally-committed motorcycle gangs, like street gangs, are primary conduits for the illicit drugs being pumped in the U.S. by the Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTO).  The consequences of the smuggling can strike anywhere in America.  Undercover work is not a game.  It is an essential part of our national defense against this wave of plunder, violence and corruption. But, have WSP and state legislators reached a point of hysteria with regard to criminal street gangs to allow unchecked power to condemn any three motorcycle riders or riding club affiliation?  Is LE basically executing “color coded” profiling? 

I’m not sure, but I don’t approve of the Black Thursday tactics, I don’t like the potential for anti-gang abuse and I’m not resigned to this riding club suppression law.

Illustration courtesy Australian artist Eamo Donnelly.

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Gretchen Shappert

Gretchen Shappert

I’m sure that after working hundreds of drug, gang and murder cases in the court system which is a land littered with dead bodies, grieving families, and killers of every station and stripe it would be easy to debate if all the exposure to violence and threats makes you tough-as-nails or more vulnerable.

Such is the situation with Gretchen Shappert.  The top federal prosecutor and U.S. Attorney in Charlotte, NC has stepped down.  Not to take a work break from going after the Motorcycle “Clubs”, the MS-13s or Bloods, but to join the Department of Justice in Washington, DC.  Shappert is going to work for the Obama administration’s Executive Office for U.S. Attorneys where she will coordinate gang and violent crime prosecutions across the country.  And from this previous gang threat level post it looks like she will be most busy!  Recently Shappert said:

“People who kill once will kill again.  People who shoot once will shoot again, and people who start doing robberies don’t stop unless you stop them.”

Shappert’s name surfaced in the ongoing Washington scandal involving the firing of eight U.S. attorneys across the country.  She was also involved in prosecuting Sam Currin a top figure in North Carolina Republican circles.

However, one of her most high-profile cases involved the Outlaws Motorcycle ‘gang’ where 21 members were convicted in “Operation Speedball” – an investigation into organized crime, racketeering and distribution of meth.  Shappert has prosecuted more drug and violent gang cases than any other federal prosecutor in the country and will now bring that expertise to the executive office. 

Photo courtesy WCNC.

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lmcJohnny is a veteran member of the LMC…aka… The Lost, a notorious biker “club”. Johnny has been rather busy these days creating “business opportunities” for the LMC in Liberty City.  His loyalty is to the club’s patch and to Billy Grey, the club’s President.  Billy just returned from rehab and is hell-bent on jacking up the level of debauchery.  The LMC is in the middle of a vicious turf war with rival clubs for control of a city torn apart by violence and corruption. Can the brotherhood survive?

Does intimidation, drug possession, trafficking, homicide, drive-by shootings, child endangerment, and gang land struggles sound familiar?  Whether it’s life imitating art or vice-versa this is the new story line developed by the creator’s of Grand Theft Auto IV  (GTA4) – Rockstar/Take2 — the “Lost and Damned” add-on for the game features a new main character, Johnny Klebitz, and an Outlaw Motorcycle Gang plot that some might debate merges with reality. 

As you may recall, Rockstar/Take 2 became world famous for developing the capability of letting players enjoy booty-bouncing lap dances in strip clubs followed with prostitute sex.  Then afterward you could run her over with your car (and now your motorcycle?) or riddle with bullets – it all depends on how you roll.  I’ve written previously HERE about how motorcycle clubs have become the new media darlings of the entertainment industry and this is nothing more than a gaming extension of that trend.

lmc_membersSo, what’s next in the Rockstar/Take 2 gaming world?  Outlaw motorcycle clubs sharing methamphetamine recipes and “how-to” online cooking guides via the in-game chat sessions?!  Where does it end?  Society is bombarding kids with music, movies and video games that glorify all types of gang lifestyle and criminal acts.  Now it’s the outlaw motorcycle clubs time to shine in the spotlight.  Sure it’s a mature rated computer game (meaning all 12 year olds will own a copy), but visit a suburban mall in any size city and you’ll find surprisingly large numbers of teens mimicking real gangs.  From flashing signs to wearing the clothing culture…all of which contributes to the misidentification (false positives) of today’s youth.

I’m not on a motorcycle club witch hunt or attacking all video games.  I acknowledge that this post could be viewed as capitalism at its best – my lamb blasting the lack of social morals at Rockstar/Take 2 will be viewed by many as marketing meant only to drum up parental outrage and make the game even more irresistible to kids.  The video game market is a $20B industry (more than Hollywood box office receipts) and maybe it’s time to establish a motorcycle club advisor role/organization?

Job #1 would be to make sure that all motorcycle club colleagues are portrayed honorably, that no one would be embarrassed by the games portrayal and they would advise gaming companies to be as accurate as possible.  On second thought,  a game based on Hospital Toy Run’s or a Veteran’s Ride is unlikely to garner much sales volume from the teenage buying public, but it sure would have a lot more social redeeming value!

Photos courtesy of Rockstar web site.

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“I sure as sh*t seen everything now.” – Bartender

I didn’t start with that quote just because it’s funny….I stuck it in because I can relate.  When it comes to motorcycle “clubs” there is a part of me that admires the so called “outlaw biker”.  They turned riding in the wind into something to live for.  They made the motorcycle the cornerstone of their identity and it’s the metaphor for their personal freedom.  Hollywood romanticizes this image.  In fact, many outlaw bikers envision themselves as social rebels who promote personal freedoms, by exercising their right to choose and their freedom to associate.

I figured I’ve seen pretty much everything in all my years on this earth, but I was caught off guard by the number of comments  from people who expressed outrage here and on many other motorcycle “boards” about the topic of large 1%er “clubs” trying to dominate thru intimidation and impose their will on other clubs. I didn’t even write the article, but the comments had a life of their own!  Sometimes clubs are forced into, or willingly accept, “support” roles for a 1%er club. Smaller clubs who resist a large 1%er club have “voluntarily” been forcibly disbanded, e.g. told to hand over their colors or risk war.  In turf wars, patches feud not people, but people get hurt.

OVMA

OVMA

Should we care about 1%er business?  Not really.   The “hornet theory” (leave them alone and they will leave you alone) has served most of us motorcycle enthusiasts well.  We’ve certainly read press reports that the larger 1%er MCs are rivals with each other and have fought over territory, patch rivalry and other issues…as the local CoC (Confederation of Clubs) work to eliminate most of these interclub issues.  But this isn’t about 1%er rivalry.  It’s about the Oregon Veterans Motorcycle Association (OVMA or cached version HERE), a legally registered non-profit organization with a membership of 600 and 12 chapters state-wide, who have been ordered to close its doors by October 24th by a 1%er “club” in Oregon.

I do care about my personal rights.  I’m talking about the constitution and the right of free assembly, the right to privacy, the right of free association and the right to defend ourselves against oppressors, both foreign and domestic.  These are the very rights that I connected to those social rebels, the so called outlaw biker who has been vocal in evangelizing those freedoms for all.  But isn’t this hypocrisy?

The issue of “clubs” preying on each other which then spills over to preying on all of us…means you and I in the biker community loose.  I grew up in a time when everyday life was simple…you worked, obeyed the law, cared for your family, looked out for your neighbors and respected your country.  At least that was the creed of the working class, which does most of the of the country’s heavy lifting.  How is this any different than the “Crips” or “El Norte” street gang doing their best to instill fear in local area residents?  If certain groups among us are successful of shutting down a legal non-profit veterans organization then who is the next target from the mainstream motorcycle clubs or riding associations?  Is it the Harley Owners Group, Honda Riders Club of America or the BMW Riders Association?  Or maybe it’s the Patriot Guard Riders, who provide funeral escorts for military veterans?

A larger issue is the very real dangers regarding laws and legislation that is not specific and general in nature with regard to “clubs” or gangs and how those clubs are defined. When laws and legislation are not specific or is left to individuals or even the court’s interpretation and discretion… we should have cause for concern. It’s very likely that some opportunistic politician will leverage this situation, evangelize how Biker gangs are out of control in Oregon and use it to introduce a bill in Salem that will limit motorcycle association rights.  They are probably scheduling a press briefing right now to tell us how its “good for the motorcycle economy”!

Don’t believe it’s possible?  Then check out how Myrtle Beach decided to eliminate motorcycle rallies! Where is the line on a rally vs. an event in the legal system?  Well the attorney’s will get wealthy because the litigation is starting and it’s the first of motorcycle association rights that effect you.

So, in the interest to educate the motorcycle enthusiasts of the northwest mark your calendar on October 25th.  It’s called “Free The Colors”, a grassroots initiative in Oregon inspired by “Pappy” and I’m helping to bring visibility.  See more information HERE.  On that day every rider regardless of club affiliation should openly and peacefully support the OVMA’s courageous stand against intimidation.

Let’s exercise our right to peaceful assembly, to choose and defend our personal freedom of association with the OVMA while honoring our veterans.  I’m just one person advocating for a just society.  Now excuse me while I go rent a Mary Poppins video and buy a popsicle for little Billy (before he gets hooked on meth)…

UPDATE: October 19, 2008 – Ride details available HERE for Free The Colors Day.

UPDATE: September 27, 2008 – The ride results are HERE.

OVMA photo courtsey of web site.  Legal books courtsey of  VBI.

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This site hit a milestone today, surpassing 2500 comments.  Of course when I did a deep dive of the stats nearly half of the comments were outright SPAM that Askimet took appropriate action.  And a fair number of the remaining seemed a massive campaign in the practice of planting positive comments about a service on other blogs, or affiliate schemes — often referred to as “astroturfing“. 

But, at the end of the day, I’m pleased that so many of you decided to spend time sharing your thoughts and insights. I know it sounds a bit corny like “Happy Days“, but this wouldn’t work as a one-way conversation.  I look for comments not only as way to gauge the overall sentiment of the motorcycle community, but to tell me if someone is blowing smoke up my “skirt” or if I got something totally wrong. It’s also proven to be a useful source of some news tips.

Of course, some comments have been more informative than others. And since this blog was started a year ago, I’ve seen discussions on a wide range of topics from HOG events to blockbuster acquisitions to — yes — my coverage of OMG in Oregon.  Let me set the record straight right now that I don’t have “a swooning man-crush” on any outlaw motorcycle club member as was stated in a couple comments…which somehow got deleted!

Again, thank you.

Photo courtesy of Flickr/PSD

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Welcome to Oregon — from the rugged seacoast, to the high mountain passes of the Cascades and everything in between including the Judicial Branch.  Oregon’s beauty is here for all to enjoy.

In April, five months after the first chapter of the outlaw Mongols Motorcycle Club opened in Oregon, the Eugene police arrested three members of the club on felony charges, accusing them of trying to run a pair of investigators off the road during a interstate confrontation.  The Mongols were Justin J. “Mooch” DeLoretto; Nathan A. Cassidy; and Matthew A. Weiss.  They were held on charges of second-degree attempted assault and conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping.  DeLoretto is credited with setting up the Oregon chapters of the club and is identifiable with a “Mongols” tattoo on the back of his head and referenced here in this post.

Oregonian reporter Bryan Denson provides a lot more details, but the quick download is DeLoretto followed two men in a SUV that turned onto his driveway in rural Turner, OR. He was driving a pickup and didn’t realize they were police in a government issue Ford Explorer and followed them into Salem, where the SUV stopped briefly outside a house that once was a Gypsy Joker clubhouse. DeLoretto then followed the SUV down I-5, phoning other Mongols and their associates to join him in the chase.  I’m not going to speculate as to why they wanted to get together and chat…

As the legal wagon wheel turns in Oregon, the Lane County jury acquitted DeLoretto of 8 felony charges, but did find him guilty of misdemeanors last week.  Weiss previously pleaded guilty to coercion and drew a 30-day jail term. And Cassidy, drew 90 days for reckless driving and unlawful use of a weapon (his vehicle). Both were banned from associating with the Mongols.  DeLoretto is fighting this no-association order and trying to protect his free-association rights.  If the state successfully demonizes his actions and the no-association order holds up — will he be in parole violation when visiting his brother?   As it turns out DeLoretto’s has a twin brother (Jeremy) who is filling in as acting president of Mongols Oregon chapters.

I don’t condone this or any interstate chase, but I’m thinking the state is a bit hyper-sensitive about anyone associating with the Oregon Mongols.  Maybe I have it all wrong?

UPDATED All UPDATES BELOW ON — April 6, 2017

UPDATE: June 20, 2008 — Accused of a litany of felony and misdemeanor crimes, Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto, (27), took his case to trial.  A Lane County jury found him guilty of reckless driving and other misdemeanor charges from the April 23 incident in which he was accused of trying to run two biker-gang investigators off Interstate 5 during rush hour. The jury acquitted DeLoretto of eight felony charges, including conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping.  Circuit Judge Debra Vogt sentenced the president of Oregon’s Mongols Motorcycle Club to a year in jail and ordered him not to associate with other Mongols — including his twin brother Jeremy, who was at the time acting MMC President — or any outlaw biker gangs.  The judge ordered Mr. DeLoretto, to serve six months for each of two counts of menacing. She also suspended his driver’s license and ordered him to serve five years of probation in which he can neither associate with the Mongols nor wear their insignia.

UPDATE: June 24, 2008 — One day after Lane County Circuit Judge Debra Vogt sentenced Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto to a year in jail, he was released to make room for more serious criminals.  The Mongols Oregon Chapters president remained in jail before and during his trial which had his bail set very high.  He served 62 days  and was released because of jail overcrowding.

UPDATED: June 25, 2008 — More HERE, but DeLoretto was sentenced Monday (23rd) to one year in jail on two counts of menacing (misdemeanor).  The real kicker is that the DA influenced the judge who order DeLoretto not to associate with the Mongols or wear their insignia for 5 years.  Essentially striking down his constitutional right of freedom to associate.  He was processed into Lane County jail after sentencing and then promptly released 24 hours later due to jail overcrowding!  In total, DeLoretto served 62 days in Lane County jail — 61 of those while waiting trial and unable to post a very high bail.

UPDATE: September 30, 2008 – the Oregonian reported that Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto, the founder of the Mongols Motorcycle Club‘s Oregon chapters, who was ordered not to associate with the organization after a June conviction for menacing a pair of outlaw biker investigators, has left secretly to California.  According to Detective Dave Burroughs there will be a warrant for his arrest.  Mr. DeLoretto, joined the San Diego Mongols chapter and went to work in a tattoo parlor owned by a member of the motorcycle club.

UPDATE: October 2008 — The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) raided all people, places and things Mongol in October and they raided that tattoo parlor. DeLoretto was detained and investigated. And, so Lane County, Oregon learned that he had violated his probation by leaving the state. Oregon issued a warrant for his arrest and asked him to please return to account for his misdeeds.

UPDATE: January 2009 — Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto, turned himself into the Lane County Jail again.  He was being held on $50,000 bail, but according to Lane County Sheriff Captain Doug Hooley commented to the Eugene Register-Guard, that there was nothing with his risk assessment score that keeps him from getting out.  He was eligible for release later that day.

UPDATE: April 4, 2017 — According to Oregonian news reports, Mr. DeLoretto is a George Fox University graduate student, who is required to complete an internship at a social service agency to obtain a master’s degree in social work.  He started an internship a year ago at the Oregon Youth Authority and would of course use what he learned to work with gang-affected youth in the criminal justice system when he completed his studies.  But, four months later, the state agency ended his internship after learning he was a founding and member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club.

At any rate, as of this week Mr. DeLoretto has filed a federal lawsuit against the Oregon Youth Authority, claiming his internship was terminated solely because of his club “membership” which violated his constitutional rights of free speech and due process.  DeLoretto, (now 35), is seeking undetermined monetary damages for the loss of the internship and punitive damages.

History — Justin “Mooch” DeLoretto was a founding member and President of the Mongols Motorcycle Club in Oregon. The Mongols established chapters in Portland, Eugene, Medford and Bend in 2008 and there were reports the club was determined to provoke virtually every other motorcycle club in the country.  It should be noted that for many years, the best known motorcycle club in Oregon was/is the Gypsy Jokers Motorcycle Club. The Mongols and the Gypsy Jokers both wear a black and white patch and do not attend each other’s “gatherings.”  In addition, the Oregon Mongols did not appear to be particularly close with either the Free Souls Motorcycle Club or the Outsiders MC. Both of those organizations predate the Mongols arrival in Oregon.

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