Jury selection in the trial of state Hells Angels members is set to begin next week in U.S. District Court here, and people are nervous: to protect their identity, jurors will remain anonymous, apparently referred to by numbers rather than names during empanelling. Witnesses are also being protected, identified only by initials in court documents; prosecutors also asked that some related witness documents be partially sealed. A new indictment includes added claims of witness tampering and extends the list of alleged biker crimes. They include drug, robbery, kidnapping, conspiracy and murder charges against the five members of the Nomads, as the state Hells Angels chapter calls itself.
Last week, Judge Robert Lasnick ruled on a revealing series of motions filed by chapter president Smilin' Rick Fabel of Spokane, hinting at some of the topics likely to arise during the trial. Details were sketchy, but the motion refers to an earlier attempted payoff to a judge and intimidation of a Spokane prosecutor. Several murder cases are cited including an apparent plan to kill rival biker George Wegers of Bellingham, international president of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club, who last year was convicted of conspiracy and racketeering here, getting 20 months. Lasnick turned down many of Fabel's exclusionary requests but did agree to a memorable one: prosecutors and police witnesses will not be allowed to refer to the outlaw bikers as a "gang."