Former Mongols member wants motorcycle returned


Four years to the day after federal agents arrested him and 77 other members of the Mongols motorcycle gang in a racketeering and conspiracy case, Al "The Suit" Cavazos will appear Tuesday in federal court.

Cavazos wants his good name restored and his $3,800 bike returned.

He may get the motorcycle back, his attorney said.

"It now looks like he will be the only defendant who will go to trial" seeking return of seized property, Cavazos' attorney Phillip Deitch said.

The bike was among included hundreds of rifles, pistols and shotguns, thousands of rounds of ammunition, $178,361 in cash, 139 motorcycles, nine cartons of cigarettes, a Daisy BB gun, a Honda Civic, a GMC Yukon and assorted pieces of jewelry taken by agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives on Oct. 9, 2008.

The ATF and federal prosecutors claimed the items represent booty and swag collected by a criminal organization involved in assaults, attempted murder and illegal drug sales over the course of several years.

In recent weeks U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter – known as "King David" to lawyers appearing in his courtroom – has returned several items to members of the gang including their bikes.

Several others – many doing federal time in connection with the case – have withdrawn claims to their motorcycles, guns and jewelry. Among those was Cavazos' nephew Ruben "Lil Rubes" Cavazos, Jr.

On the other hand, Cavazos' brother, Ruben "Doc" Cavazos, the former club president, had his claim tossed by Carter for not following federal court protocol, according to court documents.

In an email from federal prison, Cavazos indicated that might be a likely outcome.

"The ATF, realizing that we have purchased our motorcycles with monies earned through legal employment, has creatively expanded its reasons to rob United States citizens of their hard earned possessions," Cavazos wrote. "In this case (that was) our mode of transportation, our motorcycles."

But considering the fate of 11 other alleged gang members, Carter, known for being "tough but fair", ruled Monday that being Mongols didn't necessarily make the men drug pushers.

"In sum, the government has failed to show a substantial connection between these motorcycles and the Mongols' drug conspiracy,' Carter wrote.

In harsh terms, Carter has previously admonished prosecutors for their actions in the case, which is known as U.S. versus Assorted Firearms, according to Donald Charles Davis, a blogger atagingrebel.comand author of "Out Bad."

"If I was the taxpayers, I'd tear down the courthouse," Carter said. "Thirty percent of these things have nothing to do with justice."

Al Cavazos hoped to present evidence that members of the club were railroaded by Montebello police Sergeant Chris Cervantes and his partner, ATF agent John Ciccone, who built their RICO case by misrepresenting the details of a 2007 shooting outside Nicola's, a Commerce strip club.

Without ruling on the merit of Al "The Suit's" claim against Cervantes and Ciccone, Carter said Monday he will not retry the original conspiracy case.

"Such evidence is not relevant to the forfeiture issues in the civil case," Carter said in an order published Monday.

Cavazos said he was disappointed.

"Everyone pleaded guilty in this case for good reason," he said. "Because when the officers lie you don't have a chance."

A complaint Cavazos filed against Cervantes with the Montebello Police Department has been rejected.

David Santillian, national president of the club, has criticized Al's insistence on digging into the Nicola's shooting and said that the Cavazos brothers have been ejected from the Mongols.

"The Suit", "Doc" and "Lil Rubes" are considered "out bad", Santillian said.

Trial in federal court on the case begins Tuesday at 8:30 a.m. in Los Angeles.

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