Led by the national president of the Gypsy Joker Motorcycle Gang known as “The Wiz” and the gang’s Portland chapter president, members kidnapped and tortured an ex-member to death and then threatened witnesses to enforce an unwritten rule that no one talks to police, a federal prosecutor told jurors Monday.
But six men violated the club’s cardinal rule and cooperated with police.
Jurors are expected to hear from them over the next month and a half in the federal trial in Portland of Kenneth Earl Hause, 64, who held the title of the club’s national president for 20 years; Mark Dencklau, 59, the local chapter leader, and Chad Leroy Erickson, 51, another member.
All three are accused of conspiracy to commit racketeering. Dencklau and Erickson face separate charges of kidnapping and murder in aid of racketeering in connection with the violent death of an ex-member.
The six Gypsy Jokers expected to testify against them have already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering.
Each of the six will take the witness stand and say the club is an “outlaw” bikers clan, Assistant U.S. Attorney Leah Bolstad said during opening statements.
They also will say they beat and killed Robert “Bagger” Huggins, 56, and dumped his body in Clark County in 2015 at the direction of Dencklau, she said.
Huggins, a struggling heroin addict, had tied up Dencklau’s girlfriend and stolen thousands of dollars from Dencklau’s Woodburn home, the prosecutor said.
They’ll also describe how they committed other crimes to boost their status in the organization, retaliated “quickly and violently” when anyone disrespected them and created a culture of fear so others wouldn’t mess with them, Bolstad told jurors.
“The United States is not asking you to like these witnesses, but the evidence will show the Gypsy Jokers likes them,” Bolstad said. “They’ll tell you how the club works and crimes committed by them.”
She presented the national president’s heavy black leather Gypsy Joker motorcycle jacket as evidence and described how club members wear a diamond-shaped patch with a 1% in it.
“The old saying is that 99% of the motorcycling world is law-abiding,” she said. “This group embraces being part of the 1% who do not follow society’s rules and they wear a patch that says as much.”
In one beating that occurred in Kennewick, Washington, Hause is accused of knocking out the teeth of a man who had been late to a motorcycle run and then having another club member tattoo a large “X” over a Gypsy Joker tattoo on the man’s back, she said.
Lawyers for the three men on trial cautioned jurors to consider the motives of the government’s main witnesses, arguing that by cooperating with prosecutors they’re hoping to draw more lenient sentences.
Other federal witnesses expected to testify received substantial payments from the government to help them relocate or pay rent, the defense attorneys noted and testimony confirmed.
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