At the start of Hell’s Angels Rico Trial, Feds claim he infiltrated biker gang, Defense condemns ‘unholy alliance’ of shady informers

SAN FRANCISCO — a former prospect for the Sonoma Hells Angels, who lived a double life as FBI informants, as well as two former club brothers, will likely be the most important of numerous government witnesses in a racketeering trial that has taken place over the past months, prosecutors said Monday.

The trial focuses on the Sonoma chapter of the Hells Angels MC with the government theory behind the most significant allegation involving alleged incidents in New Hampshire, Boston, Fresno, Antioch and Santa Rosa. Prosecutors are alleging several Hells Angels conducted several illegal acts including a plan to murder and perform an illegal cremation of one of its own club brothers resulting in a murder charge without a body which is the most significant count aimed at the group, along with multiple assaults, seriously injuring a member for a protocol violation, and the motorcycle club being charged as a criminal organization that thrives on violence.

On Monday, three men — Jonathan “John John” Nelson, Russell “Rusty” Ott, and Brian Wendt — became the first of 11 Hells Angels to go to trial in a case that originated nearly five years ago. Early in the trial, defense lawyers called an “unholy alliance” between “shady, disreputable hooligans” and law enforcement officers desperate to take down the Hells Angels after decades of trying with mixed results.

Nelson’s lawyer, Jay Goehl, spent much of his opening remarks to jurors in contrast to the government’s portrayal of the Hells Angels as a Mafia-style gang. He stated that they are a band of brothers who celebrate “freedom, a love of the open road and motorcycles” and pointed out that the original members of the group were pre-World War II veterinarians who had long hair and beards in their crew. Deducted and named after the Air Force squadron itself.

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“They do charity drives, toy drives, they do poker runs to raise money. It is an important part of who they are,” Gohel said. “They work with their hands … they build our roads, they build our bridges.”

Nelson, Ott, and Wendt are accused of playing different roles in what the FBI calls a murder—but what the defense maintains is just missing—of a man named Joel Silva, a former Sergeant-at-School of the Sonoma Hells Angels. There was arms. Missing in July 2014. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lena Peng told jurors on Monday that after Silva’s erratic behavior got to the point where it couldn’t be ignored, Nelson authorized her to kill him, while Ott took her to the group’s Fresno clubhouse. where Wendt shot him in the back of the head.

“Inside the clubhouse, Wendt tells Silva that everything is fine between them and he has some weed that he wants to sell,” Peng said. “When Silva went to look at Weed, Wendt shot him in the back of the head. Wendt would later brag how he did it.

According to Peng, the person he “brazed” with is an Antioch resident and member of the Richmond Hells Angels who would later switch sides. Following his arrest in Marin County on unspecified charges, he requested a meeting with Contra Costa District Attorney Inspector Steve Lynn and then Antioch Police Det. Steve Allo.

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They claimed that a meeting to plot Silva’s murder took place at their home, but defense lawyers say they told an “evolving” story with uncertain changes, such as claiming that when Silva was killed. He was in the clubhouse when the murder took place and was changing his mind. Wendt’s attorney, John Phillipsborne, said that the inconsistent stories about Silva began when the FBI began sweating the informant about his relationship with a California man who was charged with PG&D in a domestic terror investigation. E substation was suspected of attempted bombing, which was a top priority for Washington DC.

A Bay Area man who prosecutors claim infiltrated the group as a prospect — working for the FBI — was simply a “wannabe” who had no idea of ​​Hell’s Angels inner-workings, Ott. U.S. attorney, Marcia Morrissey, told the jury. He told jurors that in 2014 Ott had been drinking so much that it was ridiculous that anyone would involve him in a murder plot.

“The core club values ​​are loyalty, brotherhood, family and pride. Rusty is proud to be a Hells Angel,” Morrissey said. “The government case is an attempt to stigmatize Rusty by tying him up with incidents in which he was not involved “

Another government witness is a former Sonoma Hells Angel who committed a cardinal sin by sleeping with the “old lady” of fellow Hells Angel Raymond Fox, a co-defendant in the case and former Sonoma Charter president. When Fox returned from prison, he and others beat the man to a pulp for four hours inside the Sonoma clubhouse, forcibly tattooed his face, then Fox left the clubhouse, leaving the man’s wife in a deserted state. Took to the area, sexually assaulted her, then returned to the clubhouse and bragged about what she did, she said.Outside the presence of the jury, US District Judge Edward Chen threatened Peng for referring to the alleged sexual assault as if it had been authorized by Hells Engels, as opposed to Fox’s “personal gratification”, Peng said. That Peng ignored the court’s order on how that evidence could come. Chen also denied several defense wrongdoings on Monday and Tuesday.

The first two government witnesses were allegedly victims of beatdowns that prosecutors argue led Nelson to. Previously, a former member of the Ghost Warriors Motorcycle Club said “Hell’s Angels” on the stands or declined to be identified in court. During cross-examination, he admitted to heavy methamphetamine use and denied that he was testifying to leniency in the theft case, for which he received three months of house arrest out of a possible six years in prison.