Hells Angels ‘associate’ charged with retaliating against ex-member who testified in RICO murder case

Not guilty plea entered

OAKLAND — A Hells Angels associate has been charged with witness retaliation for allegedly targeting a former member of the outlaw biker club who took the witness stand in a major racketeering trial over the summer, according to court records.

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Samuel Holquin, 49, was indicted by a federal grand jury last week on two counts of witness retaliation and two counts of making false statements to the FBI. The lead witness retaliation charge on its own carries a maximum of 20 years in federal prison.

Holquin’s alleged victim, Joseph Hardisty, was the key to federal prosecutors securing guilty verdicts of racketeering and murder charges in the death of Joel “Doughboy” Silva, a Sonoma Hells Angels member whom authorities allege was shot in the back of the head at the Hells Angels’ Fresno clubhouse in July 2014. Hardisty, a former Richmond Hells Angels member, testified in May that he had been recruited to help out with the plot to kill Silva after Silva threatened another member’s life during a motorcycle rally on the East Coast.

According to prosecutors, a week after Hardisty took the stand, Holquin sent Hardisty pictures of him and his family. He also allegedly texted another person that Hardisty was a “rat” and that, “I had to let him know that I found him and know everything about him and his family.”

“I might as well drive out there and get all three of them (expletive) pieces of (expletive),” Holquin added in one text message, according to the indictment.

When the FBI interviewed Holquin about the texts to Hardisty, he told agents he had no problems with Hardisty, he had no idea why Hardisty had gone to court, and that he texted a picture of the “father to ‘make sure it’s him’ and that he told (Hardisty) to tell his mother that she looks good.” Agents, dubious of the claims, searched his phone and found the menacing texts, the indictment alleges.  

Holquin has pleaded not guilty and has been released on a $25,000 surety bond, court records show.

Last June, after a trial that spanned nearly two months, a jury convicted Hells Angels members Jonathan “Jon Jon” Nelson, Brian Wendt, and Russell “Rusty” Ott of conspiracy to murder Silva and other federal offenses. They are awaiting sentencing at a to-be-determined date, but have filed motions for post-conviction acquittals that largely center on arguments intended to discredit Hardisty’s testimony.  

Prosecutors argued at trial that Wendt shot Silva in the back of the head after Ott lured him to the Fresno clubhouse. Nelson was the one who authorized Silva’s murder, according to Hardisty’s testimony. Afterward, prosecutors contend that Silva’s body was illegally cremated at a funeral home and his remains were dumped at an unknown location.

Nelson, Wendy, and Ott were part of a large-scale RICO investigation aimed at the Sonoma Hells Angels, which included a dozen defendants. The remainder of the defendants are set for the trial next year.

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