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Mar-22-2010 19:58printcomments

Southern Oregon Motorcycle Club Member Sentenced

Back to the 50's in the attitude toward motorcycle clubs.

Prison bars
Oregon motorcycle riders from a club called the Vagos will be serving hefty sentences for robbery and coercion,

(SALEM, Ore.) - The Oregon Attorney General's Office sent out a news release today stating that "A total of seven members of the North Valley Chapter of the Vagos Outlaw Motorcycle Club have been convicted of charges ranging from robbery and kidnapping to burglary and coercion."

The statement from Attorney General John Kroger goes on to say how his office convicted a "Grants Pass-based outlaw motorcycle gang member" on charges of coercion and unlawful use of a weapon.

Now, is it a gang or a club? I don't know the Vagos, but I know a lot of bikers who are having a very hard time with their civil rights these days, and the semantics are important.

Police and prosecutors are in a new time when words like "terrorist" instantly mean that a person loses their treasured Civil Rights, simply over a charge, an allegation. "Gang member" isn't as bad, yet... but where does it end?

This is where the rubber of real Civil Liberty meets the asphalt.

There is no clause in the U.S. Constitution that states "Unless the person is wearing a patch on their jacket" that I have ever seen.

I know that these law enforcement officials, keen on the key words, play out their strategies and that 99% of the media in this nation knows not the first thing about this unique American culture, so they aren't much help, simply parroting the words of law enforcement bent on seeing bikers removed from our streets.

There are many clubs that exist without excessive legal difficulties, but when motorcycles are involved, the term club frequently becomes gang when police talk about it, and it is a matter of legal maneuvering. I think this type of "news" from a state office looks an awful lot like propaganda when the facts are skewed.

I remember when my niece was in high school, cruising around with a few of her friends at night, and they were pulled over by the "gang unit" because there were six kids together in a car. A car that belonged to a girl's mom.

The police use these terms out of context.

“Outlaw motorcycle gangs pose a major threat to public safety,” said Attorney General Kroger. “This case put a major dent in outlaw motorcycle gang activity in Southern Oregon.”

Apparently they had an issue with a club member and somebody tried to steal a motorcycle. One person reportedly, "chased two individuals with a sawed-off shotgun."

(Note: Since the story was published last night, 'Badger' Mark the Vagos club Spokesman for Oregon, told Salem-News.com, "The whole thing is over two years old and was about us finding out a convicted sex offender had made his way into our club and was kicked out.")

OK, I wouldn't want to be chased around by a pissed off biker with a shotgun, I admit that, but the way this story is laid out you would think they had just brought Charles Manson to justice.

Robbery and Coercion. Those are the crimes that the motorcycle club member in question was convicted of. No drugs, no Murder, nothing like that. The news release states that the conviction led to a 26 month (slightly over two years) prison sentence for 52-year old Richard Coelho. The AG says it was "the final case in a multi-year prosecution of the North Valley Chapter of the Vagos Outlaw Motorcycle Club."

Years? And all they did was convict some bikers for apparently hassling one of their own? It doesn't exactly fit the bill for public menace, based on the conviction.

The other Vagos who were prosecuted include 43-year old Chris Jorgenson, who was sentenced to 70 months in prison for robbery, coercion and burglary; 44-year old Chris Church, who was sentenced to 70 months in prison for kidnapping and coercion (two counts); 63-year old Gary Jones, who was sentenced to probation for coercion; and 52-year old James Lloyd, who was convicted at trial and sentenced to probation for robbery and coercion. 49-year old Jack Sanders, and 56-year old Bob Moore, who were each convicted of coercion (two counts), have not yet been sentenced.

It reminds me of another recent story where vast amounts of tax dollars were spent funding a tremendous list of Oregon police agencies that busted a drug dealer. Rafael Martinez Ayala sold meth ten times to narc cops, and made drug deals while his kids were in the house. He was sentenced to 269 months in prison.

Taxpayers will pick up the tab for 269 months, more than 22 years of prison incarceration. Yet in the same timeframe, a couple who repeatedly harmed other human beings, children no less, who refused a lawyer, behaved disrespectfully to the judge, and left children with lifetime scars on their bodies and souls, will serve a sentence less than 1/3 third the length of Ayala's.

Hispanics and bikers; huge lengthy sentences. A white couple that is extremely dangerous and abusive; a comparative slap on the wrist. What gives?

The public needs to realize that motorcycle clubs are as All-American as apple pie, whether people like it or not. Most bikers are U.S. military veterans. Many served in combat, starting with WWII, which is what launched the American biker movement.

Yet in the biker circuit are a whole bunch of undercover cops posing as bikers. They infiltrate these clubs, and if they were simply doing it to arrest people for illegal activity, that is one thing. But that is not what they do.

It seems the biggest goal of police intervention in motorcycle clubs is to incite problems between the various clubs.

I know for a fact that this is and has been taking place, and these are serious allegations. If the bikers themselves did anything remotely similar they would be arrested and face heavy charges, almost certainly on a federal level. Inciting violence is totally unacceptable criminal police behavior.

Some of these actions by police have resulted in clubs taking violent action against each other over the years. Police should not be allowed to do this. Being deceptive is a specialty of undercover 'narcs' and anyone who relies on deceit as their main tool reeks of dishonesty, and their word is stained.

Nobody writes about this because there is such a shortage of reporters who cross over in these areas of knowledge. Bikers are largely mistrusting of media, and I understand why. Sometimes though they need a break. I am not making excuses for breaking the law, that is not the point.

According to the news release from the Oregon AG, "Testimony established that the Vagos members considered themselves a 1 percent club, a reference to a 1960s claim that up to 99% of motorcyclists are law-abiding citizens, but the last one percent are outlaws."

History

More than anything, the term 'one percenter' is figurative. It represents a lifestyle, and the term's origins date back to the post-WWII years.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans were sent off to the vicious deadly fighting of WWII. They were made into killers of other men, made to do things most human beings could not do, and would never want to do. They returned from the war and there was a need to keep living a certain way. There were two main American motorcycles at the time; Harley Davidson and Indian.

These were the machines of our veteran American riders and they were probably pretty tough for people to take in the years following the war, at places like Hollister, California, but that is how it goes.

This is the town that bikers visited in 1947, that would later be the basis for the movie "Wild Ones" with Marlon Brando. The main club that day, the Boozefighters in California, still exist. What really happened wasn't much, some drinking and partying, riding bikes around the small town.

It was Hollywood that demonized that event, and possibly one posed photo of a biker leaning back on a Harley with beer cans everywhere.

And this led to the press asking the "respectable" motorcycle group, the American Motorcycle Association (AMA) to comment on the Hollister incident. The AMA responded by saying that 99% if all motorcyclists were law-abiding citizens, and the last one percent were outlaws.

That is when and where the term "1%" came into being, and it was practically an invitation to would-be outlaw bikers to embrace the term, thanks to the AMA. It happened in the wake of the 1947 event at Hollister.

I am going to close by noting one more very interesting thing in the news release from the Oregon Attorney General.

It is the statement, "The Criminal Justice Division focuses on public corruption and government misconduct, complex drug cases, organized crime and gangs, mortgage fraud and internet sex predators."

We know of at least one specific case of government misconduct here in Oregon; this is the tragic case involving our writer, Coral Theill. To encapsulate: her former husband was physically and sexually abusive. He was also a member of a right leaning church in Polk County, Oregon. This ex-husband, Marty Warner, was tight with the cops, the judge, everybody. When Coral turned Warner in for marital rape, she was told that if she tried to report this a second time, that she would be arrested. Coral today is living in hiding and the state of Oregon is on her tail all the time to pay back child support.

That is the kind of justice Oregon is known for. We have tried repeatedly to schedule time to talk with the AG about this, but for some reason they just never have time. We are also carrying the ball for an elderly woman in Oregon who was bilked out of over a million dollars by her son in California, yet Oregon leaves her out to dry.

So they can wave their banner telling everyone they busted a dangerous "biker" - but the spirit of the law here is the same one that has always been here. It has preferences built-in, and the whole idea of the AG being the only state office where you can take a grievance about an Oregon DA, is the biggest conflict of interest in the world.

I have a feeling that much bigger convictions than this one have taken place in Oregon this week, and that this was simply singled out in an effort to negatively affect the image of people who ride motorcycles and belong to clubs. I hope I am wrong; I don't think I am.

Dec-11-2009: Drug Dealer's 269 Month Prison Term 3 Times Longer than Sentence for Child Abusers - Social Perspective by Tim King Salem-News.com

Jan-22-2009: American Motorcycle Culture: The One Percenters - Tim King Salem-News.com


Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines.

Tim holds numerous awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), first place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. You can send Tim an email at this address: newsroom@salem-news.com




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annoyed September 20, 2012 12:01 pm (Pacific time)

This is one of the biggest pieces of garbage Ive had the misfortune of reading.

 Tim King: Same goes for your comment at this point.

This is laced with speculation without merit. You say the cops infiltrate these poor clubs to incite rivalry and violence? When? Where? And dont give me an opinion, Im interested in fact. And out of the hundreds, if not thousands, of times theyve been infiltrated, Im hoping your not talking about one situation. Your a journalist, not a "wild hogs" champion. I love MC's as much as the next guy, but dont get it twisted. Theyre not a bunch of friendly teddy bears on MC and their not getting unfairly picked on. The need the attention from law enforcement because the vast majority of true 1% are criminals. The brag about it. The embrace. Heck, they tattoo it on their heads and flaunt it with their patches! Hence the "1%"
With that said, I do believe that non motorcycle gang riders probably do get some unfair attention from law enforcement, but that wasnt what this artical was about.

This isnt what true reporting was meant to be.

Tim King: Au contraire, this is exactly how reports should look and your mainstream head nodding machine does not reside here.  Other states have some pretty rough clubs but Oregon is the best and we are sick of you guys trying to trap and ensnare these Americans.  It is they who served their country, it is you who wants to hide behind a badge while you violate our rights.  And as for your demand, FORGET IT I do the yelling and demanding here and you will never draw cooperation from that type of approach, no wonder things are so bad with you guys and your role in this country, you lost your way, LEAVE MY BROTHERS ALONE unless they truly violate the law.  Quit expecting the media to hold your end up too.


buggie June 24, 2011 12:38 pm (Pacific time)

great work but why did some get time for there crime but jimmy lloyd didn't.whats up with that they are brothers to the end RIGHT


Bob December 16, 2010 5:42 am (Pacific time)

Outstanding work. Keep it up.


kerb May 7, 2010 1:10 pm (Pacific time)

Reminds me a lot of how the Feds entrapped Randy Weaver (remember Ruby Ridge?). An undercover got Weaver to saw the barrel off of a shotgun for him so they'd have leverage to make Weaver spy on the Aryan Brotherhood. Of which Weaver was not even a member.


10Guage March 25, 2010 2:02 pm (Pacific time)

I should say up front that I have no relation to the club mentioned in the article. It is nice to read true and unbiased reporting by someone who cares enough about the TRUTH to find out for himself. The importance of an article like this can not be over stated. The general public has no idea what these so called officers are doing. The only thing they protect and serve is their own interests. We need to put a stop to federally fabricated crimes. With the economy the way it is, all of this attention and money spent on a boogieman that causes very little crime is a blatant waste of resources if nothing else. Not to mention once you lock us up in the over crowded penitentiary you have to pay for us. In addition we no longer can support our families, spend money in the economy, or be productive members of society. Then once in the pen we are forced to be violent to survive. Stop letting them waste our tax dollars. We have vets that need housing and support and children who are losing teachers. Even if you don’t care for or about us or our rights.


DMAG March 23, 2010 11:35 pm (Pacific time)

Tim after working this case for over a year with little to no unbiased reporting to be found this is a welcomed article and a fine piece of work. I hope you continue to write in the same professional manner and stand up to the garbage that is laced throughout the media regarding the culture of bikers. thanks again. And to: (jimmy March 23, 2010 9:16 am) as the investigator for the defense in this case I can without a doubt say that you are way off base in your statement. The two men who received sentences for the robbery and kidnapping charges were not privy to a private law firm such as the rest were. Unfortunately their council felt overwhelmed and simply outgunned by the DOJ and the incredible amount of paper crammed into this case. They took deals to avoid what they were told was a loser case. Gladly it was proved otherwise. I worked with several of the witnesses in the case and can assure you I would gladly trust any of these men as my neighbor and fellow motorcyclist.


T-Bone March 23, 2010 7:49 pm (Pacific time)

Tim, this is a great piece of work, FTP, FTF's.. You all should go to theagingrebel.com and read his article about the Hemet Hoax regarding the Vagos being messed with by the Hemet cops and the Riverside District Atty's office. Rebel's blog is very informative and I highly recommend it to everyone, especially the writer and editor of this paper. Thank you.


Boone SRMC March 23, 2010 7:22 pm (Pacific time)

Thank you Mr. King for a great piece of journalism and for speaking the truth. The majority of law inforcement treat all bikers as gang members, We are bikers and club members not gang members, gangs run the streets commiting crime's. You're a brave journalist Mr. King who speaks the truth and I as a biker and an MC member I salute you Sir.


Greybeard77 March 23, 2010 5:56 pm (Pacific time)

Wow, amazing article! Tim King has become an instant Biker Hero for such unbiased reporting. He shows respect and has earned my respect.


jester68 March 23, 2010 3:55 pm (Pacific time)

It's hard to believe that someone in the press listened and told the truth not just what the mainstream press and cops tell them. Sad to see America turn communist but with the times the way they are things will only get worse . Still nice to read a article where someone actually did some research on the topic they were reporting on . Good job and thanks .


jester68 March 23, 2010 3:43 pm (Pacific time)

It's hard to believe that someone in the press listened and told the truth not just what the mainstream press and cops tell them. Sad to see America turn communist but with the times the way they are things will only get worse . Still nice to read a article where someone actually did some research on the topic they were reporting on . Good job and thanks .


mike March 23, 2010 1:45 pm (Pacific time)

In Canada, we get the idiot RCMP (Yeah, Shinder Kirk, we mean you) and other chest pounding law enforcement agencies, lumping anyone and everyone that wears a patch (mc or rc), everyone else that has ever ridden with them, and anyone who has ever attended one of their events, into the realm of the criminally suspect. The media then sensationalize the comments made and, shazam!, everyone who owns an American made bike is suddenly to be vilified by the rest of the god fearing general public. What's interesting is that more law enforcement officers in Canada are on trial for serious crimes than are members of all the biker clubs combined. So who are the real criminals?


Bones March 23, 2010 12:30 pm (Pacific time)

I find your writing great and cannot for the life of me figure out why people pick Bikers to screw with. You leave them alone they leave you alone. Most bikers live by that creedo and don't want anything to do with stock citizens and cops. The biggest gang in the country is law enforcment and they are twice as crooked.


DEMO March 23, 2010 12:25 pm (Pacific time)

Finally Some one in the media that speaks the truth and not afraid to put it in print...congrats Mr. King


midwest March 23, 2010 11:44 am (Pacific time)

Great story. As a special advocate for kids in the system for abuse and neglect, i can comment that what Tim writes at the end happens more often then you want to know. In addition, it is always the biker\club community that is the first to step up for these kids. I have found more integrity in the biker community then in any corporate world.


TATTOO USA March 23, 2010 10:07 am (Pacific time)

WELL DONE TIM. MY HATS OFF TO YA. GYPSY JOKER USA


jimmy March 23, 2010 9:16 am (Pacific time)

mayby I am missing something, but robbery, coercion, burglary, and kidnapping all sound like CRIMES. Regardless of you affiliation to a gang, school, or cub scout troop, if you commit the crime, be prepared to do the time!


Guest March 23, 2010 8:42 am (Pacific time)

Too darn bad this article isn't picked up by AP or Scripps and ran nationwide in all the big papers. Like all the news that is slanted in favor of law enforcement. More people need to be exposed to this kind of journalism in the mainstream media. At least, it would give them something to ponder. Law enforcement has been waging a propaganda war against "bikers" for some time now, by using the news media as a free tool. For the accused to publish a rebuttal in the same media, they would have to purchase costly ad space. Unfortunately, when the legal process is finished and the allegations are found to be unsubstantiated, or the accused is found not guilty by a jury, the results are never published. It's refreshing to see someone question the status quo of law enforcement blanketing the majority of club members with the "gang" label because of the actions of a few. I would dare say that if law enforcement were to do a self evaluation using the same definition of a "gang," they would have to paint themselves with the same brush. I truly believe that the percentages of cops convicted of crimes is higher than that of bikers. We have to dig for that information though. As an honorably discharged Marine Corps veteran with two tours in service, I am saddened at the erosion of the personal freedoms that I stood to protect. Mr King, I salute you sir.


Impressed March 23, 2010 6:58 am (Pacific time)

Well played dear sir. Tim, you are a respected man in your field, and I commend you for putting this article out. I now hope our "democracy" of a Government does not harass you for speaking the truth. A true piece of freedom of speech here.


Izzy Wildheart March 23, 2010 6:20 am (Pacific time)

Amen to that....totally agree with Thumper, he just said it for me! Refreshing piece of unbiased journalism for once! Thank you


East Coaster March 23, 2010 5:42 am (Pacific time)

Mr. King, an outstanding article...Nuff said


Casper March 23, 2010 5:41 am (Pacific time)

The world needs more reporters like you; ones who are honest and untainted by an overwhelming police bias. Please, keep up the good work.


Swabbie March 23, 2010 3:55 am (Pacific time)

Not to parrot others...but this is a refreshing piece of journalism. Thank you for your honest reporting and telling 'how it is' when it comes to LE infusing friction to club membership and then using their own actions to indict members; without ever taking action against any LE or informants. As you pointed out; riding a bike and wearing a patch is equal to the 'pirate brand' of old wherein the branded would receive no mercy or quarter from authorities.


David March 23, 2010 3:15 am (Pacific time)

I am a retired security broker that happens to ride a motorcycle. I have for over forty years. During that time, in my travels about the country, I have found what has been written in this article to be true. The police receive additional funding for making stories, arrests bigger than they are. In addition, they will instigate a criminal act, usually creating an environment, then bringing unsuspecting individuals to the table. Motorcyclist are an easy target since they do not conform, in varing degrees, to the norm. This I know from talk of a commissioner at a club. Golf Club - not a Golf Gang.


Don March 22, 2010 11:52 pm (Pacific time)

I have also seen the police informants cause friction between motorcycle clubs. These informants carry firearms, deal drugs, steal motorcycles, and much more. Its easy to tell who the informants are, they are the ones who try to get you to commit a crime. The sad fact about law enforcement these days is, its much easier to create a crime then solve one.


A Biker March 22, 2010 9:10 pm (Pacific time)

Thanks for writing such an honest and balanced article about MCs. It's rare to see one that doesn't parrot the "gang" line that the biggest gang around -- LEOs -- always use to demonize us.


THUMPER March 22, 2010 8:52 pm (Pacific time)

this is far and away the finest piece I've had the pleasure of reading and sharing ever... absolutely refreshing...

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