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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Hells Angels member gets bail

chapter president of the Hells Angels motorcycle club was freed Tuesday pending sentencing for drug offences after a jury acquitted him last week of belonging to a criminal organization.

John Neal, 61, was granted bail, pending the outcome of a sentencing hearing on June 9.

A jury on Saturday acquitted five members of Hells Angels, including Neal, of the criminal organization charge. Lorne Campbell, 62, was released on bail immediately on Saturday and Larry Pooler, 61, had been under house arrest since charges were laid four years ago.

Two other members, Mehrdad Bahman, 48, and vice-president, Douglas Myles, 54, remain in custody. 

All the bikers were found guilty drug charges and will be sentenced on June 9.

But the criminal organization acquittals mean the men were spared lengthy jail sentences on top of their pre-trial custody.  

“If the state wants to go big-game hunting, they better bring out the heavy artillery and the evidence just wasn’t there in this case,” said defence lawyer Lenny Hochberg.

“The courts have found on multiple occasions that the Hells Angels are a criminal organization, but it has never been tried to the best of my knowledge, before a jury before the accused’s peers in other words.

“Now that a jury has determined, based on all the evidence and a year and a half of investigation, that it is not a criminal organization. It’s a huge decision.” 

Neal, Myles and Bahman were found guilty of conspiracy to traffick GHB, the date rate drug.

Pooler was found guilty of trafficking in oxycodone and possession of  a restricted firearm.

Campbell was convicted on trafficking cocaine.

The bikers were arrested in an undercover project — named “Project Develop” — which featured a former club officer named Dave (Shakey) Atwell, a paid police agent. 

The jury heard that Atwell hung out with the bikers for 18 months and secretly taped conversations with them between 2005 and 2007.

Bahman, whose club nickname is “Juicy,” pleaded guilty to nine counts of trafficking drugs and possession of proceeds of crime.


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