updated 6/11/2007 7:24:48 PM ET 2007-06-11T23:24:48

Federal jurors convicted three current and former Hells Angels members Monday of conspiring to run a motorcycle theft ring that prosecutors blamed for the death of a man who lied about being a member of the club.

The jury deliberated for nearly 100 hours over 12 days after more than two months of testimony detailing brutal beatings that authorities said were meant to punish people who crossed the bikers.

“They operate in a culture of silence. They use their violence to keep people from coming forward,” Acting U.S. Attorney Jeff Sullivan said afterward.

He said the case “blows up the myth that (the Hells Angels) create — that they just get together to sell T-shirts and ride motorcycles.”

One former member of the Spokane chapter, Rodney Lee Rollness, was convicted of murder, racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and several other crimes, including trafficking in stolen motorcycles.

Outside the courthouse after the verdict, two burly men in embroidered black vests blocked reporters from approaching Rollness’ family and said they had no comment.

Another former Hells Angel, Joshua Binder, was convicted of conspiracy to commit racketeering and attempted interference with commerce by threats or violence, but jurors deadlocked on whether he was involved in the murder of Michael Walsh, who was shot to death in 2001. Prosecutors said the motive was Walsh’s false claim to be a Hells Angel.

Binder and Rollness left the Hells Angels in 2003.

The chapter’s president, Richard Allen “Smilin’ Rick” Fabel, was found to have committed several racketeering acts, including mail fraud and extortion. Jurors could not decide on racketeering and conspiracy charges against a fourth Hells Angels member, Ricky Jenks.

Facing 40 years to life
Jurors reached the partial verdict late Friday, and U.S. District Judge Robert Lasnik questioned them individually Monday morning before declaring a mistrial on the deadlocked counts and releasing the rest of the verdict.

Rollness faces a mandatory life sentence, while Fabel and Binder each face up to 40 years.

Sullivan said his office will refile the eight charges the jury could not agree on, including the murder charge against Binder, the racketeering charges against Jenks and Binder, and two witness tampering charges against Rollness.

Walsh’s niece was crying after the verdict.

“I can’t say I’m happy they are guilty, but I’m happy there is justice,” Rachelle Walsh said. “I’m happy for my family.”

She said it’s been difficult for her to explain to Michael Walsh’s mother that he’s not coming back; the woman has Alzheimer’s disease and often forgets that her son was killed.

Attorneys for Rollness and Jenks had no immediate comment.

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