San Jose Hells Angels leader’s killing: Key witness says he lied

By SCOTT SONNER

RENO, Nev. (AP) — The star witness who helped convict the triggerman in the killing of a San Jose Hells Angels’ boss at a Nevada casino says he was lying when he testified that the shooting was an assassination plot orchestrated by a rival motorcycle gang, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

Prosecutors think the recantation is a lie, but it could make it more difficult to get another murder conviction against Ernesto Gonzalez, a former Vagos gang member. He’s scheduled to be tried again in August after the Nevada Supreme Court threw out the conviction because of improper jury instructions.

Gonzalez had been convicted of the September 2011 killing of Jeffrey “Jethro” Pettigrew of San Jose, 54, on a crowded casino floor at John Ascuaga’s Nugget Casino Resort in Sparks.

At Pettigrew’s funeral the following month in San Jose’s Oak Hill Cemetery, another Hells Angel was killed by one of his own colleagues. Steve Tausan — who had been Pettigrew’s closest friend — was gunned down by Steve Ruiz. The two men had reportedly been arguing over whether Ruiz should have been able to help prevent Pettigrew’s death.

In regard to the Gonzalez case, legal scholars say it’s hard to predict jurors’ reaction to recanted testimony, but it raises questions about the claims of suspects who make deals with prosecutors to take the stand in exchange for more lenient sentences, as Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick did.

His testimony helped put Gonzalez in prison for life for carrying out the organized hit on  Pettigrew that sent gamblers diving for cover under blackjack tables.

Gonzalez, 59, insists there was no plot. He said he opened fire because Pettigrew and another Hells Angel were kicking his partner so hard he thought they would kill him.’

The only witness who claimed personal knowledge of the conspiracy was Rudnick, an ex-Vagos vice president from Los Angeles who provoked Pettigrew into fighting. He was released from prison in 2016 after serving two years for conspiracy to commit murder.

Rudnick testified that the Vagos international president gave Gonzalez the “green light” for the killing as the gangs feuded over turf in San Jose, where Pettigrew was the Hells Angels chapter president.

In new court filings, Rudnick claims he fabricated that story under pressure from prosecutors to get a plea deal that he thought would keep him out of prison and put him in the federal witness protection program.

His declaration is not dated, but Gonzalez’s lawyer, David Houston, told the AP it was signed May 17, 2016, in Las Vegas.

“He states that he lied and there was never any conspiracy or meeting to ‘green light’ a hit,” Houston said. “He says he was told he’d get probation if he testified the way the state wanted him to.”

In a handwritten note riddled with misspellings, Rudnick said “there was no conspiracy” to kill Pettigrew.

“It was just a fight between me and him,” he wrote in the document signed by two witnesses, including a private investigator hired by Houston.

Rudnick says the prosecutor, Karl Hall, now Reno’s city attorney, didn’t believe his original account.

“He told me … what he wanted me to change to lie for him,” Rudnick wrote, suggesting he had no choice but to comply. “I was looking at 25 years in prison.”

Hall declined to comment.

Sean O’Brien, a professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, Law School, said plea deals with co-conspirators raise questions about testimony that’s later withdrawn.

“There are incentives,” O’Brien said of agreements providing leniency. “It is bought-and-paid-for testimony.”

Houston, Gonzalez’s lawyer, said Rudnick’s reversal is significant because he apparently committed perjury and it’s unclear if he would show up if prosecutors tried to force him to take the stand again.

Houston declined to comment on where Rudnick is now, and prosecutors would not say if they know his whereabouts, intend to subpoena him to testify or might charge him with perjury.

Typically, in such situations — or when a witness dies — previous testimony can be re-entered into the record. But that’s not necessarily the case if there’s reason to believe it was false.

It’s a point of contention set for court hearings in May ahead of Gonzalez’s new trial.

“It is more likely that the recanting statement is false,” Washoe County Deputy District Attorney Amos Stege wrote this month. He declined further comment.

“Regarding the defense counsel’s questionably timed ‘affidavit,’ courts across the nation universally regard post-conviction recantations with extreme suspicion,” district attorney spokeswoman Michelle Bays said in an email. “The Vagos criminal enterprise is vast and they are known for violence, intimidation and extortion.”

Houston is trying to compel Rudnick’s public defender to testify about the plea agreement at Gonzalez’s new trial and bar the earlier testimony unless he reappears.

“If the sworn declaration is to be believed, the state would propose to obtain a conviction against Mr. Gonzalez based on perjured testimony,” Houston wrote in court documents last week. “Simply reading Mr. Rudnick’s testimony in, when we all know it was false … invites a second reversal on this case.”

O’Brien said judges should be “very cautious of this type of evidence no matter who is using it.”

“But to me, it’s sort of counterintuitive when the prosecution says the testimony that we bought and paid for is more reliable than this gratuitous recantation,” the professor said.

O’Brien said former Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Wolff put it best: “The only thing we really know about these people is they are liars.”

Source: http://www.mercurynews.com

Rome Man Arrested for Theft of Harley Davidson, Attempts to Sell to Victim

Billy John Hammonds, 45 of Rome, was arrested on Tuesday after he was found to have allegedly be in possession of a stolen 2004 Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Reports said that the motorcycle was reported stolen in Alabama back around the 6th of February.

Reports added that Hammonds then attempted to sell the motorcycle for $2,500 back to the victim.

Hammonds is charged with felony theft by receiving stolen property, theft by bringing stolen property into the state, failure to appear and two counts of probation violation.

 

SHABBILY DRESSED MAN IGNORED BY SALESPEOPLE, ENDS UP BUYING HARLEY DAVIDSON WITH CASH

It’s unfortunate that we’ve heard of many cases where the salespeople of a branded or luxury store would judge a customer based on their attire. Just because someone is dressed casually, they’d ignore them assuming they have no money to pay for the goods inside. So this one man decided to teach these salespeople a lesson – to never judge a book by its cover.

According to Thai Visa, an elderly man from Thailand went to several motorbike dealerships but was unattended because he was wearing a shabby oversized T-shirt, worn out grey pants and a pair of flip-flops. Automatically, this gave the impression that he couldn’t possibly afford one of those expensive superbikes.

So, he went from one shop to another until finally, he received attention and friendly treatment from a big bike shop. Within 10 minutes, the man made up his mind and said, ‘I’ll have that one!’ He then whipped out 600,000 baht (RM75,147) from his baggy pants and paid for the Harley Davidson.

The previous motorbike shops that didn’t layan him must be having a terrible heartache now! The story instantly went viral after the man’s elder sister took it to social media. According to the sister, the humble man is known as Lung Decha. He is an honest and hard-working mechanic who has partially retired from work. He doesn’t smoke, drink nor gamble. After working hard for his whole life, he decided to use his savings to get himself a nice bike that he has been dreaming about. Kudos to the sales person who didn’t judge him based on his clothes!

Have a safe ride uncle, you’ve definitely earned it!

Source: www.worldofbuzz.com

 

Protesters harass veterans protecting a fallen marine, then a patriotic biker club rolls in

Corporal Richard Bennet, a 25-year-old marine, died in a helicopter crash in Iraq, and his funeral became the target for the ever attention seeking Westboro Baptist Church.

A group of bikers known as “The Patriot Guard” arrived to form a shield with their bodies, bikes, and American flags protecting the grieving family of the fallen veteran from the disrespectful protesters.

BIKERS WANT CHARGES AGAINST DEPUTY INVOLVED IN DEADLY HIGH SPEED CHASE, CRASH

Dozens of bikers lined Main Street in Summerville to protest against the Berkeley County Sheriff’s Office Sunday. The rally follows the death of 30-year-old Robert Lee Clark.

Clark died during a high speed chase when his bike and a deputy’s cruiser collided.

The biking community held several different signs Sunday, some that read “Don’t pit motorcycles” and “Don’t wreck us, don’t kill us.”
Some in attendance Sunday said their hope is that deputy James Vansant is fired and charged with murder.
“Charge the officer with murder. That’s what this was. This was no different than if he would have shot him down in the back. He just used a 5000-pound bullet,” Dan Annesi said.
Dan Annesi didn’t know Clark personally, but he helped organize the protest after seeing the dash cam video.
The footage shows Vansant’s vehicle making contact with the rear of Clark’s motorcycle. Seconds later, Clark loses control, hits a curb and then hits a car. He was later pronounced dead at the scene.
“It wasn’t worth the end result. This was not a death sentence infraction. Killers get less than what Robert was given,” Annesi said.
Annesi and other bikers say they don’t condone Clark refusing to stop for blue lights but say the crime didn’t meet the punishment.

We don’t feel like Robert was correct in running. He was wrong for doing that, and he deserved any jail time that he may have received. But, that doesn’t justify officer Vansant ramming him in the rear to stop this chase,” Annesi said.
The sheriff’s office says the contact was caused by Clark slowing down dramatically after he appeared to miss a gear.
Annesi said no one should pit motorcycles. He also believes after watching the video that there were at least two points of contact between the deputy and Clark.
“They’re lying, they came out without even doing an investigation and came to their officer’s offense. Now it’s taking over a week, and we still haven’t heard anything. They said he only hit him once. That video shows two points of contact, so again why are you lying?” Annesi argued.
Autumn Fralix said she normally sides with police, but not in this situation. She feels the deputy shouldn’t have chased Clark.
“Call ahead, ‘Hey, we got a bike on the way.’ Run with it, follow behind him. You stop the pursuit, he’s going to stop the erratic driving 99 percent of the time. He’s going home. Sit there and wait for him to get there. That’s all he had to do, not kill the man,” Fralix said.

Fralix and Anessi believe this incident was an issue of the deputy not following policy.
According to the dash cam video, speeds reached up to 112 miles per hour. These bikers say they will continue to come out until the sheriff’s office charges Vansant.
“Any officer who decides to run down a motorcyclist or anything else, now you have us to stand back and make sure justice is served all the way around,” Fralix said.
The Sheriff’s Office would not comment on the protest, and the South Carolina Highway Patrol is still investigating the incident.

 

MEET THE GODFATHER OF OUTLAW BIKER CLUB, SATAN’S CHOICE

In today’s world of biker gangs, the Hell’s Angels reign supreme.

No other biker gang has the numbers, the influence — or the criminal reach — of the world’s most famous motorcycle club.

But there was a time when another club — a Canadian biker club — challenged the Hell’s Angels’ size, if not its influence. Its name was The Satan’s Choice Motorcycle Club, and its undisputed leader was Bernie Guindon.

By 1970, Satan’s Choice had some 300 members and chapters across Canada, making it the second largest biker club in the world. Guindon took the name from another disbanded club in Toronto, and he was president by the time he was 22. In those early days, he and his fellow riders were more rebels than criminals.

“They were scruffy kids who hung around hamburger stands and scowled,” long-time crime crime reporter Peter Edwards tells The Current’s guest host Laura Lynch.

“They were scowly kids who chewed their hamburgers in an angry way.”

Guindon’s pride and joy was a custom bike he christened “Wild Thing.” Edwards says he used to ride it around his hometown of Oshawa like a “conquering hero.”

But Guindon was a biker with a code. He valued loyalty above all else. He despised “connivers” and “rats.” Edwards says Guindon always prided himself on being old school.

“If you have a problem with him, you’ll get a punch in the chin. He won’t stab you in the back.”

As Satan’s Choice grew in size, it began to attract more unsavoury members, and the former rebels evolved into criminals. Guindon was never interested in gun crimes, but he was hardly a saint. He served roughly 15 years in prison, first for an indecent assault on a minor, and again for drug trafficking.

Edwards explains the first conviction came out of a sex party with several bikers and one woman. Guindon — 23-years old at the time — swore the sex was consensual. The woman claimed otherwise in court. She was 15-years-old at the time. Guindon told Edwards he thought she was 18 or 19.

If I was at war, Bernie’s the guy I’d want sitting next to me.’
– Peter Edwards on motorcycle club leader Bernie Guindon
Guindon’s prison stints scuttled a promising amateur boxing career. He won bronze at the 1971 Pan Am games and likely would have been on Canada’s Olympic team in the 70s had he not ended up in prison. Former champ George Chuvalo said Guindon would have had a great pro career.

“He knew what he had to do to be a good fighter. He had the stuff,” Chuvalo told Edwards for the book.

Guindon never turned pro — partly because he worried that an overzealous prosecutor might declare his fists “deadly weapons,” earning him harsher charges for his never-ending street brawls.

He was also a pro in womanizing. Guindon has been married four times, and lost count of how many children he’s had —somewhere between 11 and 16 — all but two from different women. He’s tried at various points in his life to connect with his many children, with mostly mixed results.

Guindon was only actively involved in raising one — a son he named Harley Davidson Guindon. Harley followed his father’s example into a life in crime, although Edwards says that wasn’t at his father’s urging. Harley Guindon has done several stints behind bars. Father and son both did time separately in Millhaven Institution, a maximum-security prison.

“I think [Bernie] is a complex man,” Edwards tells Lynch.

“He’s a very human person. And if I was at war, Bernie’s the guy I’d want sitting next to me.”

 

 

MOTORCYCLIST DIES AFTER BEING HIT BY VAN, DRAGGED SEVERAL BLOCKS

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – An 18 year-old city man died Saturday night after being struck by a vehicle and dragged for several blocks.

Police said that 18 year-old Christopher Lucero was riding a motorcycle on Manton Avenue around 9 p.m. Saturday when he was struck by a van. It dragged him for several blocks and then fled the scene, police said.

Eyewitness News located skid marks that stretched from the intersection of Manton and Greenwood, up Atwells Avenue, down La Vaughn Street and down Amherst Street — a distance of about a half mile.

Officers taped off several blocks for several hours Saturday night as they conducted their investigation.

On Sunday, police said they located the van involved in the hit-and-run, but didn’t offer information on whether the driver had been located or what charges might be filed.

BREAKING: A man is dead after police say a van dragged him multiple blocks on Amherst St. Sprawling crime scene spanning city streets.