By Associated Press
LAS VEGAS — Prosecutors have asked a judge in Las Vegas to throw out the testimony of a key witness in a federal racketeering trial after they say he lied on the witness stand.
The trial stems from a 2011 shootout that killed a rival Hells Angels leader in a northern Nevada casino.
Prosecutors say Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick lied after spending more than three days telling jurors that Vagos Motorcycle Club members had plotted to kill a rival biker in Sparks, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Thursday.
“We have grave concerns and doubt as to whether this witness will be truthful,” Assistant U.S. Attorney John Han said after 23 days of a trial expected to last through the end of the year.
At the beginning of the trial, Han called the slaying of Jeffrey Pettigrew, 54, an orchestrated murder among criminal conspirators that received a “green light” go-ahead from the Vagos international president following a series of clashes between members of the two motorcycle clubs in San Jose, California.
The eight men standing trial represent the first of three groups totaling 21 defendants, ranging in age from 36 to 70, who prosecutors say were involved in crimes in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Nevada.
Each of the men, including Albert Lopez, Albert Perez, James Gillespie, Bradley Campos, Cesar Morales and Ernesto Gonzalez, could face up to life in prison if convicted.
Defense attorneys for the men have asked to have the murder and racketeering charges thrown out.
“I don’t believe the government can prove the case without Rudnick,” said defense attorney Jess Marchese, who represents Gillespie.
If U.S. District Chief Judge Gloria Navarro dismisses this case, it would mark the second time in two years that high-profile federal charges against multiple defendants were tossed out, officials said.
Video surveillance showed Pettigrew pistol-whipping another man on the casino floor before gunfire broke out. During the fight, Gonzalez shot and killed Pettigrew, prosecutors said.
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Gonzalez was found guilty of murder in state court, but his conviction was overturned, and he was indicted in the federal case while awaiting a retrial, officials said.