News and Press Releases

Defendant Pleaded Guilty to Assisting with Cover-up, Lying to Grand Jury

January 8, 2008

PAUL FOSTER, 52, of Arlington, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to seven years in prison and three years of supervised release for being an Accessory after the Fact to Murder. At his plea hearing on September 11, 2007, FOSTER admitted he was present July 21, 2001, when Michael “Santa” Walsh was shot and killed by members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle gang. The murder occurred on FOSTER’s property in Arlington. Later, Walsh’s body was found dumped in a Snohomish County ravine. Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik ordered FOSTER into custody immediately to begin his prison term saying FOSTER “destroyed evidence, he lied to the grand jury and he consistently lied to police.”

The sentencing today concludes a case that took more than seven years to bring to justice. Assistant United States Attorney Bruce Miyake told the court that it was fitting FOSTER was the last to be sentenced saying, “But for Paul Foster, Michael Walsh might still be alive today... it was Paul Foster who literally led Michael Walsh to his death.” In his plea statement of facts reviewed in open court, FOSTER admitted he was trying to join the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, and at the urging of club member Rodney Rollness, invited Walsh to a party at his Arlington home. At Rollness’s trial, prosecutors showed how there were numerous phone calls between FOSTER and Rollness the night of the party. FOSTER admitted he was calling Rollness to let him know Walsh was at the party. FOSTER led Walsh to the back of the property. FOSTER claims he thought the gang members were going to beat up Walsh, not kill him. FOSTER admitted he assisted with disposing of Walsh’s body and destroying evidence at the scene. In the days following the murder, FOSTER told Snohomish County Sheriff’s Deputies that he didn’t know anything about the murder. Later, in two appearances before the federal grand jury hearing evidence about the case, FOSTER lied, again saying he knew nothing about the murder.

“When people remain silent, justice is silent,” Miyake told the court. “We are now at the end of a long road we started when he (FOSTER) led Michael Walsh to his death.”

On June 11, 2007, following a lengthy jury trial, three current or former members of the Washington State Chapter of the Hells Angels outlaw motorcycle club were found guilty of RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) or Conspiracy to Commit RICO. Rodney Rollness, 46, of Snohomish, Washington, was sentenced September 19, 2007 to life in prison. Rick Fabel a/k/a Smilin Rick, 49, of Spokane, the president of the Hells Angels Nomads chapter in Washington, was sentenced September 17, 2007 to seven and a half years in prison. Joshua Binder, 32, of North Bend, Washington, a former Hells Angels member, was sentenced December 19, 2007, to 15 years in prison. Six weeks after the jury verdict, Binder chose to resolve the charges on which the jury could not reach a verdict, by pleading guilty to RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization), admitting involvement in the murder of Michael Walsh.

At today’s sentencing hearing, Michael Walsh’s sister Wendy told the court, “I now believe in evil and it sickens me....” Addressing FOSTER, she said he was “risking his life and soul for what? To join a club.” Testimony at trial revealed that the Hells Angels members wanted to punish Walsh for claiming to have belonged at one time to the Hells Angels. That was the apparent motive for the murder and for an assault on another elderly Snohomish County resident.

Chief Judge Lasnik noted that society has in some ways glorified the biker culture, but called the Hells Angels “deadly evil.” The judge commended law enforcement and the trial team for bringing this case to light, saying investigators “stayed on track and were diligent and persistent.”

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 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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