Plea Deal Ends Hells Angels Case in Nev.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
By KEN RITTER, Associated Press Writer
LAS VEGAS — The federal racketeering trial of 11 Hells Angels motorcycle club members came to a sudden end Wednesday after six defendants accepted plea deals to reduce charges stemming from a deadly casino brawl.
The men also entered plea agreements in a parallel state criminal case, sparing them the possibility of life in prison if they had been convicted. Under the deals with federal and state prosecutors, they likely will face no more than 2 1/2 years in prison.
All federal charges were to be dropped against the remaining five federal defendants. The judge said he also would dismiss the federal cases against the 31 other Hells Angles members charged in the brawl.
The collapse of the federal case came after two weeks of trial during which defense lawyers accused government agents and prosecutors of flagrant misconduct and withholding crucial evidence.
U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said he agreed to the plea deals because it involved"the six most active and culpable participants"in the fighting.
The Hells Angels members brawled with rival Mongols biker gang members at a 2002 motorcycle rally in Laughlin, a Colorado River resort town some 100 miles south of Las Vegas.
Two Hells Angels and one Mongols member died and at least a dozen people were injured. Videotape images showed the rival motorcycle gang members battling with guns, knives, wrenches and chairs on the casino floor at Harrah's Laughlin hotel-casino.
Calvin Schaefer, Raymond Foakes, Rodney Cox and James Hannigan pleaded guilty to federal charges of committing a violent crime, battery, in aid of racketeering. Maurice"Pete"Eunice and Dale Leedom pleaded no contest, conceding the government could prove they committed a violent felony.
Troy Regas, 43, a Hells Angels member whose brother, Sohn Regas, will go free, called it"better for six to do a small amount of time than for one guy possibly to face a life sentence."
Defense lawyers noted the settlement of the federal and state cases would clear the Hells Angels of federal claims that it constitutes acriminal enterprise like the Mafia.
"There is no implication whatsoever from this plea that the Hells Angels is a criminal enterprise,"said Schaefer's lawyer, David Chesnoff.
No Mongols members were charged in the federal case, though six face state charges.
http://www.foxnews.com/wires/2006Oct11/ ... al,00.html