Road Dog attorneys try to free clients

Motion for release filed for defendants in cycle shop case

August 28, 2008 

Attorneys for two Road Dog Cycle defendants who have been in custody since mid-July have asked the court to reconsider a decision not to free the men -- retired Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy Robert C. Holloway III, and Ray M. Heffington, who authorities say is the Merced chapter president of the Hells Angels motorcycle club.

Holloway, 60, of Turlock has been in custody in Fresno since July 15 in connection with federal racketeering allegations related to the Denair motorcycle shop he owns with his son, Brent Holloway.

According to Robert Holloway's attorney, Road Dog Cycle has been closed since the arrests.

Authorities contend that the father and son ran a racketeering enterprise at the motorcycle shop, allowing members of "outlaw motorcycle clubs" to take bikes from the shop on credit without paying or making other official loan agreements. Authorities say Robert Holloway had an agreement with motorcycle club presidents that they would repossess the bikes if members failed to make good on debts.

A grand jury indicted the Holloways and 11 others in July on charges related to suspected illegal operations at the shop going back to 1997.

Robert Holloway's attorneys submitted a motion Monday to request his client's release.

The motion argued that "as a lifelong resident of this community, with abundant community and family ties, Mr. Holloway cannot be detained as a flight risk."

The motion includes 20 letters from Holloway supporters, including former Stanislaus County Deputy District Attorney Ernest Spokes Jr. and an associate geology professor from California State University, Stanislaus.

Spokes described a case in which he represented Holloway in the 1990s in a business dispute, and went on to hypothesize about why Holloway was in jail.

"I now understand that Mr. Holloway is accused of extortion in attempting to settle his property disputes. This is not at all the Robert Holloway that I know," he wrote in a letter dated Aug. 15. "I am also well aware that Steve Jacobson and Kurt Bunch from the Stanislaus County District Attorney's Office have been on a vendetta against Mr. Holloway ever since he was acquitted of a murder charge."

Customer cites patience with payments

Geology Professor Horacio Ferriz wrote that he had known Holloway since 2002 "as a prominent citizen of Denair and a steady supporter of the Denair Community Conservatory," a community group promoting family participation in the performing arts. Ferriz wrote that Holloway and his wife and employees helped organize a fund-raiser in 2003 that raised $9,000 for the conservatory.

Holloway "managed the event so well that it will long be remembered as a fun family night," Ferriz wrote.

Road Dog customer Mike Wright of the Modesto chapter of Bikers for Christ attested to Holloway's flexibility when he had trouble paying for his motorcycle.

"Because of my health (congestive heart failure), and a fixed income, there have been times I went two to three months with no payment. And not once have I ever been called about making a payment. All Bob ever asked was to let him know if things were tough and we can work it out."

In his Aug. 8 letter, Wright said he had bought two motorcycles from Road Dog, one for him and another for his wife.

"Bob loaned me the money, and set me up with flexable (sic) payments that I could afford," he wrote. "I have had repair work and purchased countless accessories from Bob all with a handshake and pay when you can."

Letters written on Heffington's behalf express similar sentiments.

A supervisor of five years wrote that Heffington is an "above average (equipment) operator and a pleasure to work with."

A science teacher and high school friend described Heffington as "honest and kind" and "courteous and polite."

"He has always been helpful to friends that are in need," wrote the teacher, William Pope of Kerman. "I remember when my friend ... was having financial problems and Ray helped his family out by bringing them some food."

Another longtime friend wrote about Heffington helping friends move, buying meals for homeless people and spending hours searching for a friend's lost dog.

Many of the letter writers pointed out his devotion to and financial support of his four children.

Documents submitted by Heffington's attorney included part of a federal search warrant submitted earlier this year.

The search warrant detailed the investigation of a confidential witness who is said to have purchased an illegal motorcycle through Robert Holloway. According to investigators, the bike then was rebuilt by Holloway's associates.

The warrant also lays out the prosecution's understanding of what it claims is a relationship between the Hells Angels and Road Dog Cycle.

According to the warrant, "Through association with the Hells Angels, the Holloway (criminal enterprise) gains protection from criminals and predatory outlaw motorcycle gangs and in turn gives the Holloway (criminal enterprise) credibility and stature amongst the outlaw motorcycle gang community. In return for their associations, the Hells Angels are provided with a motorcycle shop which aids the Hells Angels in obtaining motorcycles, repairing motorcycles, in the processing of stolen motorcycles and, through (Road Dog Cycle) and the Holloway (criminal enterprise) in particular, the Hells Angels gain access to critical law enforcement information related to investigations of the Hells Angels."

Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at eraguso@modbee.com or 578-2235.

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