FORMER HELLS ANGEL PLEADS GUILTY TO RICO
Admits Involvement in Murder of Snohomish Man in 2001
JOSHUA BINDER, 31, of North Bend, Washington, a former Hells Angels member, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) and admitted involvement in two racketeering acts: the murder of Michael Walsh in July 2001, and the assault and robbery of another man in December, 1999. As part of the plea agreement, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik must sentence BINDER to between thirteen to fifteen years in prison. If Chief Judge Lasnik sentences BINDER outside that range, either the prosecution or the defense can withdraw from the plea agreement.
On June 11, 2007, BINDER was found guilty of Conspiracy to Commit RICO and Attempted Interference with Commerce through Threats and Violence, but the jury was unable to reach agreement on other counts. Today’s plea agreement resolves all the charges against BINDER and he agrees not to appeal any of his convictions, including the crimes for which he was convicted at trial.
According to the plea agreement, BINDER admits he was part of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, Washington Nomads Chapter. BINDER admits the club participated in criminal activity that crossed state lines. BINDER admits that the club participated in a pattern of racketeering activity including two racketeering acts: the robbery of an Everett man, L.S., and the murder of Michael “Santa” Walsh. BINDER admits that both men were targeted by the club because the club became aware they were holding themselves out as Hells Angels members.
Today in court, Judge Lasnik went over the plea agreement with BINDER. The former Hells Angel member admits he was present when Walsh was shot and killed at a party in Snohomish County. BINDER admits he was aware Walsh was going to be killed, and that he was prepared to stop Walsh from escaping. BINDER’s plea agreement states that he kept other people from coming to the murder scene and that he helped dispose of the body. Judge Lasnik asked BINDER if this was an accurate statement of the facts and BINDER replied, “Unfortunately, Your Honor, it is.” BINDER told Judge Lasnik, “I want to get this behind me and get back to my family.”
Under the terms of the plea agreement, the government can present evidence of all of BINDER’s criminal activity in arguing for the top of the agreed sentencing range. BINDER is currently scheduled to be sentenced on September 18, 2007. Defense attorneys say they will ask that the date be delayed so that BINDER can be fully interviewed for the U.S. Probation pre-sentence report.
Two criminal co-conspirators remain scheduled for sentencing in September. RICHARD ALLEN FABEL, a/k/a Smilin Rick, 49, of Spokane, President of the Hells Angels Chapter, is scheduled to be sentenced September 17, 2007 for RICO and Conspiracy to Commit RICO and three racketeering acts: Extortion, Mail Fraud and Trafficking a motorcycle. And RODNEY LEE ROLLNESS, 46, of Snohomish, Washington, a former Hells Angels member, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced on September 19, 2007. ROLLNESS was convicted of multiple counts including RICO, VICAR (Violent Crime in aid of Racketeering) for the murder of Michael Walsh, Discharging a Firearm during and in relation to a Crime of Violence, Attempted Interference with Commerce by Threats and Violence and charges related to trafficking in stolen motorcycles.
The case against the current and former Hells Angels members were the result of an extensive investigation by the Monroe Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Cold Case Homicide Squad, the FBI and ATF.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Mike Lang, Bruce Miyake and Tessa Gorman.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.