Attorney: Government taking control of Mongols motorcycle club patches would be ‘death penalty’ for the group

Jurors, who have already determined the outlaw motorcycle club engaged in illegal activity, now tasked with deciding fate of the organizations trademark

Allowing the government to take control of the notorious Mongols motorcycle club’s prized patches would be a “death sentence” for the organization, an attorney for the outlaw club argued on Tuesday.

Jurors who last month found the outlaw motorcycle club guilty of racketeering (link is external) returned to the federal courthouse in Santa Ana on Tuesday morning, as the focus of the trial shifted from talk of drug trafficking, vicious assaults and murder (link is external) to testimony about trademarks and the importance of the patches that adorn the leather vests worn by Mongols members.Unlike typical criminal racketeering cases, the defendant in the trial is solely the motorcycle club itself, not any specific members.

The unique attempt by federal prosecutors to take control of the club’s trademark — and therefore its patches and logo — would, if successful, set a precedent that could be used against other criminal organizations. As a result, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who is presiding over the trial, previously noted that the case will almost certainly make its way to the federal appeals court and likely the U.S. Supreme Court.
“It wasn’t about putting anybody in jail,” Attorney Joseph Yanny, who is representing the Mongols, said of the current trial. “Because the guilty have already been put in jail. Some of the innocent as well.”
“What the government is seeking here is effectively the death penalty (for the club),” Yanny added, a comment that drew a quick objection from prosecutors.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Welk said taking the Mongols’ trademarks is “the only way to stop the endless cycle of crime that organizations like this perpetuate.”