The Mongols motorcycle club was found guilty of racketeering and conspiracy in a Federal Court on Thursday – which may result in the the government seizing the club’s trademarked logo and even ban its members from wearing their patches.
Federal prosecutors will ask the judge to fine the Mongol Nation — the entity that owns the club trademark — and order it to forfeit rights to the image of a bald, ponytailed Genghis Khan-style warrior in sunglasses astride a chopper motorcycle.
The attempt to defrock club members is an unusual tactic aimed at dismantling a West Covina-based organization that prosecutors alleged engaged in everything from drug-running to murder. Authorities are gambling that they can destroy the club’s identity and thus its allure.
The five week trial saw defense attorney Joseph A. Yanny argue that while individual club members may have committed crimes, the club was blameless and has a policy to kick out members who do so. Former pro wrestler and Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura testified at the trial, denying that the Mongols were a criminal gang. Ventura was a club member in the 1970s.
Prosecutors described the club to jurors as “a violent organization that attacks people, that kills people and that distributes drugs.” They also claimed the Mongols reward members who kill with a special skull-and-crossbones patch.
In the end, the jury returned a guilty verdict.
The Mongols are well known to Palm Springs residents as the club holds an annual retreat at the Hilton – which is ironic, seeing as how the man who runs the hotel is the same man who led the successful movement to cancel Biker Weekend in Palm Springs.