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Defense alleges link between Hells Angels, LCSO

Published in 1%er News and All News

LAKEPORT — A judge ordered the defense in the case of fight that allegedly involved three Hells Angels Motorcycle Club members to make modifications to a motion asking the court to compel discovery from the prosecution.

During the motion hearing Friday afternoon, the defense built upon the motion it submitted in July to illustrate the information it wanted from the prosecution, but Judge David W. Herrick said the written motion was too broad and ordered the defense to write a narrower request.

The defense, made up of Michael Clough, Patrick Ciocca and Jai Gohel, made the request for information that they believe will prove a link between the Vagos Motorcycle Club and the Lake County Sheriff's Office (LCSO), which conducted the investigation against defendants Timothy R. Bianchi, Nicholas F. Carrillo and Josh L. Johnson.

The defense believes, and plans to argue during trial, that the LCSO worked with Vagos Motorcycle Club Members to provoke a confrontation with Hell's Angels members. According to Clough, who presented most of the argument in court Friday, there is evidence that the LCSO had an interaction with Members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club prior to the June 2011 alleged fight.

They further argued that there have been other cases in which the Vagos Motorcycle Club has been infiltrated by Law enforcement, mainly two cases that took place in Arizona and in Reno.

The defense, Clough said, wants the District Attorney's office to turn over any information that may indicate a connection between the LCSO and the Vagos Motorcycle Club, information defense attorneys say their clients are entitled to under the Brady V. Maryland precedent.

Clough said the defense is not interested in knowing the identities of any informants working with the LCSO.

The main obstacle between the defense and the information it seeks, is whether the information is privileged. Judge Herrick carries the dilemma of protecting privileged information, which may contain the identities of informants working with the LCSO, and identifying what information the defendant's are entitled to.

Deputy District Attorney Art Grothe said he did not see proof in the defense's "conspiracy theory" for the motion to be carried.

He added that he was confronted Friday with a "moving target" and accused the defense of piecing together their motion "on the fly."

Grothe said the defense should submit a focused argument for the motion to allow him to construct a counter argument.

Judge Herrick agreed with Grothe and said that in the way the motion was written, it was hard to determine whether the defense was requesting privileged information.

"It's hard for me to narrow it for you," he added.

The prosecution agreed to submit a modified version of the previously submitted motion to the court by Tuesday. The new motion would exclude four-out-of-six requests and would ask for "evidence that individual members of the Vagos (Motorcycle Club) have been directed, induced or encouraged by local, state and/or federal law enforcement agencies to provoke incidents involving the Hells Angels (Motorcycle Club) and/or other motorcycle clubs."

It would also ask for "evidence that individual members of the Vagos (Motorcycle Club) have instigated/provoked conflicts with members of the Hells Angels (Motorcycle Club).

The charges, which include assault with a deadly weapon, battery, fighting in a public place and a gang enhancement, stem from an incident in June 2011 at the Konocti Vista Casino. The trio allegedly "severely beat," a member of the Vagos Motorcycle Club during a tattoo convention, according to the LCSO.

The case, which is now nearly three years old, has seen numerous delays surrounding issues with the sharing and gathering of evidence and other information.

The court is scheduled to address the new motion on March 21, when the judge may decide whether to grant the defense access to the discovery it requested.

Isaac Brambila is an associate editor for Lake County Publishing. Reach him at 263-5636 ext. 37 or at