1 conviction in four-man biker gang trial
After a weeklong trial and nearly four days of deliberations, a federal jury in Richmond convicted only one of four Outlaws motorcycle gang members on trial for racketeering and failed to reach a verdict on the organization's national president.
Two members were acquitted Wednesday after a more than two-year undercover operation that resulted in charges against 27 biker gang members.
The jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict on Outlaws president Jack Rosga of Milwaukee, who was charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering and conspiracy to commit violence in the aid of racketeering. Rosga, whose Outlaws nickname is "Milwaukee Jack," showed no emotion as the deadlock was announced.
Peter Duffey, the lead federal prosecutor in the case, said Rosga will be retried and U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson said a date will be set next week.
"The fact that the jury worked for so many hours and was still unwilling to return a guilty verdict is a comment on the weight of the evidence submitted by the government," said Rosga's attorney, Claire Cardwell.
Leslie Werth, a leader in the Outlaws' Rock Hill, S.C., chapter was convicted on the same charges facing Rosga. He faces up to 23 years in prison at his Feb. 11 sentencing.
Werth was acquitted of using violence in the aid of racketeering and a firearms charge. William Davey of Asheville, N.C., was acquitted on four charges and Mark Spradling of Hickory, N.C., was found not guilty of two charges.
"We respect the jury's verdict," U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride said in a written statement. "...We will continue to pursue any allegations of organizations that engage in violent criminal activity as a way of doing business."
Werth's attorney, Thomas Collins, said he will appeal the convictions. He said that while Werth was disappointed that he was found guilty, the overall outcome for the Outlaws was good.
"I hope it sent some kind of message to the government, given the time and expense put into this," Collins said. "The government is going to have to re-evaluate their position on Milwaukee Jack."
Davey's attorney, Horace F. Hunter, said his client was thrilled to be exonerated and going home, and that Rosga also should be pleased that the jury couldn't reach a decision on his case.
"To not get a verdict on Jack Rosga is certainly a victory for him and a defeat for the government," Hunter said.
Prosecutors claimed that Rosga led a criminal enterprise responsible for an array of violent crimes, most of them aimed at gaining an advantage over the rival Hell's Angels motorcycle gang and its allies.
"There are always going to be a few bad apples," Hunter said. "This is an organization of over 600 people."
The government's star witness was an undercover agent who infiltrated the Outlaws for more than two years and established a chapter with other agents in Petersburg, Va. He testified about a number of violent or tension-filled conflicts between the Outlaws and their rivals.
The agent also secretly tape-recorded phone calls and meetings in which Outlaws discussed plans for confronting or assaulting other gangs -- evidence that Collins said proved damaging to Werth.
"He said some rather off-color things on taped conversations," Collins said. "I think that hurt him in the long run."
Fifteen of the biker gang members who were indicted in June have pleaded guilty. One was killed by federal agents as they tried to arrest him in Maine, and charges were dropped against one. Six others have yet to be tried.
-- Associated Press
Washington Post Editors
| November 4, 2010; 7:38 AM ET
Categories: Around the Nation, From the Courthouse, Gangs, Updates, Virginia
Save & Share: Previous: Norfolk officers charged after death
Next: Man arrested in diaper disputes account
Posted by: hunterpyroattackpo | November 4, 2010 12:55 PM | Report abuse