A U.S. District Court judge dismissed an indictment against the Southern California-based Mongols Motorcycle Club that sought to strip the infamous group of its trademarked logo, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports. The ruling ensures that the Mongols will maintain control of their iconic emblem and that members can continue using it as a signifier of group identification.
The indictment against the Mongols was filed by the federal government in 2013, on the coattails of the 2008 Operation Black Rain, in which over 60 members of the motorcycle group were arrested on criminal charges. Federal prosecutors hoped to seize control of the group’s emblem under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Joe Yanney, one of the Mongols’ attorneys who filed for the dismissal of the indictment, expressed his delight at the results of the court proceedings to the Tribune. “[The prosecution’s] whole basis for attempting to forfeit the collective membership mark is dead meat,” he said. He also commended the judge for the clarity of his ruling (the judge previously assigned to the case had to recuse himself for bias against the group).
Video: Motorcyclists rallying in support of the Mongols
The judge, David O. Carter, determined that the government failed to demonstrate that individuals committed crimes under the larger umbrella of the Mongols organization, thereby disqualifying it from RICO prosecution. “There is simply no substance to the Mongols Gang enterprise independent of Mongols Nation, an association of its leadership and official membership,” he wrote in his decision.
Carter, however, did not find any evidence of prosecutorial misconduct (which the Mongols attorneys also alleged in their dismissal request). The prosecution is reportedly going over the decision before deciding on filing an appeal.
For the foreseeable future, the Mongols can rest easy and continue brandishing their logo on their vests. “I’m very happy about the result,” Mr. Yanny said