News and Press Releases

Chief Judge finds “Smilin Rick” Fabel led Criminal Enterprise that “Preyed on Vulnerable”

September 17, 2007

RICHARD ALLEN FABEL, a/k/a Smilin Rick, 50, of Spokane, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to 90 months in prison and three years of supervised release for RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) and Conspiracy to Commit RICO. As part of that supervised release, FABEL, the President of the Hells Angels Nomads Chapter, can have no contact with current or former Hells Angels. At sentencing Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik told FABEL and his supporters in the courtroom, “There is a Rick Fabel who controlled a criminal enterprise that preyed on vulnerable people....Fabel recruited violent criminals into the club and rewarded them for criminal behavior that enriched and enhanced the club.”

FABEL was found guilty June 11, 2007 of RICO and Conspiracy to Commit RICO. Following a three month trial, the Jury found FABEL committed three racketeering acts: Extortion, Mail Fraud and Trafficking a motorcycle. At sentencing Assistant United States Attorney Mike Lang told the court, FABEL used “...sophisticated schemes (to commit crimes) relying on the power and intimidation of the Hells Angels.... Taking what he wanted from whoever he wanted and having his gang of thugs to get away with it.” FABEL, said Lang, is “unrepentant and unapologetic to this day.”

Three other men face long prison terms in connection with the Hells Angels prosecution. Rodney Lee Rollness, 46, of Snohomish, Washington, a former Hells Angels member was convicted of multiple counts including RICO, VICAR (Violent Crime in aid of Racketeering), 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. Rollness was found guilty for the racketeering act of murder in connection with the 2001 shooting death of Michael Walsh. Rollness’ VICAR conviction carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced on October 18, 2007. Joshua Binder, 31, of North Bend, Washington, a former Hells Angels member, pleaded guilty to RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) admitting involvement in the murder of Michael Walsh. Binder is scheduled to be sentenced December 19, 2007. Under the terms of his plea agreement he faces thirteen to fifteen years in prison. Last week Paul Foster, 49, of Arlington, Washington, pleaded guilty to being an Accessory after the Fact to Murder. FOSTER faces up to 15 years in prison when sentenced on January 8, 2008.

Chief Judge Lasnik also noted that the defendants in the Hells Angels case had excellent legal representation. The judge said he had approved more than $2 million in payments to the defense team. Judge Lasnik rejected any allegation that the government had somehow “ganged up” on the defendants, saying the government had clearly funded “a high quality defense.”

The prosecutions are the culmination of an extensive investigation by the Monroe Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Cold Case Homicide Squad, the FBI and ATF. Key information was provided to the Monroe Police Department in early 2004 regarding the involvement of Hells Angels in trafficking stolen motorcycles and parts, and the use of violence and intimidation to further that trafficking. The Monroe Police Department, the Washington State Patrol, and the FBI launched a joint investigation into these activities.

The case was 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.

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