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4th defendant pleads guilty to racketeering conspiracy in Gypsy Joker motorcycle club case

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Joseph Duane Folkerts, a former member of the Gypsy Joker Outlaw Motorcycle Club, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to engage in racketeering in the 2015 kidnapping and murder of an ousted club member.

Folkerts, 62, is the fourth defendant to enter a guilty plea in the case.

The racketeering charge stems from the killing of Robert “Bagger” Huggins, 56.

Portland’s Gypsy Joker president Mark Leroy Dencklau ordered the attack on Huggins and others helped, according to another co-defendant, Tiler Evan Pribbernow, who has cooperated with the government and also pleaded guilty to racketeering.

The June 30, 2015, attack was in retaliation for Huggins’ burglary and robbery at Dencklau’s Woodburn home earlier that month, the government has alleged.

Loggers found Huggins’ battered body dumped in a Clark County field. He had a fractured skull, a broken rib, a broken leg, a removed nipple, nails driven through his boots, slash wounds to his back and face and many blows to his face, authorities said.

Racketeering, murder and kidnapping charges are pending against three others, who are scheduled for trial Sept. 29 before U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman.

As part of his plea agreement, Folkerts acknowledged that the motorcycle club, from at least January 2008 until October 2018, was an “outlaw” organization whose members followed a written code of conduct, wielding their power through intimidation, violence and murder while enriching themselves through extortion, robbery and drug distribution.

Huggins had targeted Dencklau’s home after getting kicked out of the club for stealing and breaking club rules, prosecutors have said. Dencklau’s then-girlfriend was tied up and Huggins stole some of Dencklau’s property, including guns, according to the government.

Prosecutors said Folkerts wasn’t involved in the initial abduction of Huggins. But Folkerts did witness his beating in Washington, helped restrain Huggins with zip ties around his wrists during the assault and then drove Huggins’ body to a field near Ridgefield, Washington, where it was dumped, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Mygrant.

Huggins’ body was found by loggers on July 1, 2015 in the Clark County field.

Mygrant said Folkerts was a member of Road Brothers, a different motorcycle club at the time of Huggins’ death. After the killing, he got a patch to join the Gypsy Joker club as a reward, the prosecutor said.

Folkerts’ lawyer, Andrew Kohlmetz, challenged that characterization. He said Folkerts was forced to join the Gypsy Jokers after the beating of Huggins. Sometime in 2016, Folkerts was "beaten out'' of the motorcycle club, Kohlmetz said.

Under the plea, prosecutors will ask for the low end of the sentencing guideline, and Folkerts’ defense lawyers are free to request further downward departures. The current recommended sentencing range is from about 24 to 30 years.

Folkerts’ sentencing is set for Nov. 30.

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