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Tuesday, 26 July 2011

former Hell's Angel was sentenced to 2½ years in prison Friday for a 2009 fight

former Hell's Angel was sentenced to 2½ years in prison Friday for a 2009 fight Judge Steven Conn said he still has little idea as to what actually occurred.

George Walters was one of seven members of the Hell's Angels and Desert Road Riders motorcycle club arrested and charged with riot and participating in a gang for a fight with a rival motorcycle club at Lazy Harry's bar in Bullhead City June 19, 2009.

Walters is the only one to have pleaded guilty so far. The others continue to contest the charges and appear headed for trial.

"I've always wondered what this trial will actually consist of," Conn said, adding that there has never been any statements or evidence offered as to what the fight consisted of or the level of involvement by each of the men.

The seven motorcycle club members, who included Kingman residents Dale Leroy Hormuth and James Snider, were arrested five months after the reported fight. In that time, motorcycle riders complained about harassment by law enforcement and the community was embroiled over whether businesses had the right to deny entrance to those wearing "colors," referring to motorcycle club insignia.

Officials with the GIITEM task force (Gang and Immigration Intelligence Team Enforcement Mission), said after the arrests were announced that the investigation into the fight was the reason for their increased surveillance. They later added that they were trying to prevent the Hell's Angels from getting a foothold in Mohave County.

Walters' attorney, Ron Gilleo, said it appeared the County Attorney's Office was prosecuting the club members more for their reputation and for the threat of what could have happened during the fight versus what actually occurred.

Gilleo said that by the time police responded to the fight complaint at Lazy Harry's, the band had already resumed playing, people were dancing and patrons were enjoying their drinks on the patio.

Prosecutor Bob Moon conceded that the fight did not meet most people's definition of a riot but said that the men couldn't use the "no harm, no foul" defense for what occurred that night.

In handing down his sentence, which could have been as much as eight years, Conn said he was not going to use this case as a means to send a message to the Hell's Angels or any other motorcycle clubs.

He added that for a "notorious" member of the Hell's Angels, Walters had an especially brief criminal history, which only included a failure to appear felony charge out of federal court and a misdemeanor citation from the Game and Fish department. Otherwise Walters had no prior convictions involving drugs, weapons or violence.

Gilleo said Walters, a friend of Hell's Angels founder Sonny Barger, grew tired of the biker lifestyle and began distancing himself from the club in the weeks after the fight. Walters had been scouting ranch locations in Mexico to become a cowboy of sorts, Gilleo said.

Walters himself spoke only briefly at the hearing, saying that he had grown tired of the "10 years of drama."

"I'll never put anyone at risk or put them at risk to have harm done to them again," he said.

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