George Wegers of Bellingham, the Bandidos Motorcycle Club international president, is scheduled to be sentenced for racketeering and conspiracy today in Seattle, leaving a federal>"/>
George Wegers of Bellingham, the Bandidos Motorcycle Club international president, is scheduled to be sentenced for racketeering and conspiracy today in Seattle, leaving a federal judge to decide whose sentencing recommendations should be accepted. The outlaw biker leader, who did two prison tours in the 1980s for peddling cocaine, is hoping for a 15-month term; if it includes time served, that could mean a quick release for Wegers, 54, arrested in a U.S. roundup of Bandidos last June. U.S. Attorney John McKay seeks a two year sentence, plus a $10,000 fine, noting Wegers, as half-owner of a Bellingham Harley Davidson franchise, has continued to have an income while incarcerated.
In a pre-sentencing brief, Wegers' attorneys attacked the federal indictment of el presidente Wegers and other Bandidos last year as overblown, with "the government's rhetoric far surpassing its own sentencing recommendations."
The brief notes that "After holding press conferences to trumpet the seriousness and significance of the charges," then filing "a sprawling, multi-defendant case alleging an increasingly complex racketeering enterprise encompassing multiple interlocking conspiracies, including conspiracies to commit murder, kidnapping, extortion, witness tampering, vehicle trafficking, and methamphetamine distribution," the government entered into plea agreements with 18 of 23 bikers. "These plea agreements, most of which involved no cooperation," says the brief, "led to sentences far below what the defendants appeared to have been facing when they were charged. The most severe sentence imposed on any of those 18 defendants was 30 months." Others ranged from 38 days to 1 ½ years.
In their sentencing memorandum, prosecutors say they anticipated "that defendant Wegers will make efforts to soften the image portrayed by the government as well as maintain that the government's case against Wegers was weak. Yet," based on wiretaps of biker conversations, "such contentions belie the tone, demeanor, and content of communications between Wegers and his Bandidos members."
Update: Wegers, expecting to be released Friday - he even packed belongings ahead of time - got 20 months, and will be freed in three weeks. The Seattle Times reports an assistant U.S. attorney may have offended the sentencing judge, John Coughenour, during Friday's hearing:
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ye Ting Woo said that instead of expressing remorse for his actions, Wegers provided only "excuses, blame and arrogance." Wegers displayed his arrogance, Woo said, by packing up his belongings in expectation that he would be released from prison Friday because of the strength of his legal team. She specifically cited [Wegers attorney Jeffrey] Robinson's reputation as one of Seattle's best-known defense attorneys and noted that co-defense attorney Amanda Lee is a former clerk for Coughenour. The strategy did not sit well with the judge.
"I can't let pass the reference to my former law clerk," Coughenour told Woo from the bench. "That's a card that shouldn't have been played." Woo told Coughenour she did not mean to imply that the judge would be biased, only that Wegers did not expect a harsh punishment because Lee was working on his behalf.