A “much ballyhooed” racketeering case against Arizona’s Hells Angels Motorcycle Club has fizzled, with prosecutors dismissing charges against some defendants and settling for lesser convictions against the rest, says the Arizona Republic. When the two-year sting Operation Black Biscuit became public in 2003, it was touted as the most successful infiltration ever of the notorious biker group. The federal case of drug violations, gun running, murder, racketeering. and other crimes ended last week, in part because of a feud between federal prosecutors and undercover agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Authorities failed to convict any of the 16 defendants on the key charge of racketeering, or running a criminal enterprise. Half of those indicted were given plea deals on lesser offenses. Gederal charges against five others were dismissed. Under the indictment, most of the bikers faced possible life terms. As a result of plea deals, none will serve more than five years in federal prison. The U.S. Attorney’s Office described the outcome as a “good thing” because eight defendants pleaded guilty. Joe Abodeely a former prosecutor now representing Tucson Hells Angels President Craig Kelly, complained: “The government tried to prosecute some people simply because they were Hells Angels. This was a waste of time, effort and taxpayers’ money.”