A federal judge in Detroit on Wednesday ordered the release of Aref “Scarface” Nagi, a former vice president of the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club who was the lead defendant in a huge federal racketeering case alleging conspiracy to murder, assault, theft and drug trafficking.
In ordering Nagi’s compassionate release, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds cited Nagi’s health in the face of the coronavirus pandemic and what she described as extraordinary steps he has taken to rehabilitate himself while in federal prison.
Federal prosecutors oppose the release of Nagi, who was not due to be let out of a federal prison in Minnesota until 2024. They say neither Nagi’s health issues nor his prison record, or the serious crimes he committed, justify early release.
In 2011, a federal jury in Detroit convicted Nagi, 58, of racketeering, conspiracy, assault with a dangerous weapon, conspiracy to transport stolen motorcycles across state lines, conspiracy to remove vehicle identification numbers, conspiracy to traffic illegal drugs, and use of a firearm during a crime of violence. The firearm charge was later overturned on appeal. He was initially sentenced to 37 years in prison, though his sentence was later reduced to 20 years.
Nagi was one of more than 30 defendants sent to prison in a case that targeted 91 club members and associates, including police officers and an attorney.
Edmunds said Wednesday that Nagi’s sentence should be reduced to time served and he should be placed on supervised release for five years.