SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – A federal judge in California fined a notorious outlaw motorcycle group $500,000 Friday following conviction on federal racketeering charges, but kept in place an earlier decision to let the group keep their trademarked insignia worn on their backs.
This past December, a federal jury in Southern California convicted the Mongol Nation Motorcycle Club of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and conspiracy.
Federal prosecutors then moved to have the club forfeit the trademark on its logo, which features a cartoon Genghis Khan-type figure brandishing a sword and riding a motorcycle under a curved banner bearing the word “Mongols.” Members have worn the patch since 1969.
Prosecutors argued the logo is a symbol of “a parade of horrors” committed by the bikers for decades and that, through criminal forfeiture, the U.S government could prevent members from wearing or using the design.
But while U.S District Judge David Carter affirmed the verdict in February, denying the club’s request for a new trial, he said ordering forfeiture of the trademark would be unconstitutional.
“The First Amendment and Eighth Amendment of the Constitution permanently prohibit the government’s request to forfeit the rights associated with the collective symbols,” Carter wrote in February.
The sentence handed down Friday closes the most recent dramatic chapter in the U.S government’s extended prosecution of the outlaw group.
In addition to the $500,000 fine, the club must forfeit vests, patches, body armor and clothing that bears the logo, Carter said, finding a nexus between the club’s crimes and the patches members wore while committing them.
The group must also pay a separate $800 fine to the U.S government. The Mongol Nation clubhouse in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles will also be subject to searches by federal agents.
Carter ordered the group to pay in monthly installments of nearly $8,500, which he said should leave them with enough money to pay legal fees during the appeals process.
Outside the courtroom, Mongol Nation defense attorney Stephen Stubbs said the group would appeal the sentence to the Ninth Circuit. Joseph Yanny, another attorney for the group, told Courthouse News the fine was steep and “probably inappropriate” since the most serious crimes were committed by club bikers who’ve already paid fines or are in prison after striking plea deals with prosecutors.
“I’m very pleased that the trademark is staying where it’s at,” Yanny said. “I’m glad [Carter] didn’t disturb that.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven Welk said in court that the group’s crimes over the years “merits the highest penalty,” adding he thought the fine was appropriate.
“The Mongol Nation club has offered no acceptance of responsibility and shown no remorse,” Welk said. “But people have died as a result of their mantra.”