FRESNO -- Authorities played recorded telephone calls in federal court Monday in which a man they identified as Robert C. Holloway III talked about beating up customers who didn't pay debts owed for motorcycles bought from his Denair shop.
In another conversation, the man authorities say is Holloway speaks about the importance of honoring one's word and upholding a "gentleman's agreement." He also speaks of being lenient with people who owed money, as long as they communicated with him about repaying their debt.
Prosecutors argue that Holloway, of Turlock, and two other defendants should not be released pending trial. Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin is expected to rule today about whether two of them will be released.
Authorities say Holloway and Brent F. Holloway, his son, ran a criminal enterprise out of Road Dog Cycle. Brent Holloway lives in Modesto.
A grand jury indicted Holloway, his son and 11 others in mid-July on charges relating to suspected illegal operations at the motorcycle shop going back to 1997.
One of the 13 remains at large. Four, including Stanislaus County sheriff's Capt. Raul DeLeon, were released on their own recognizance last week. A fifth defendant, Reynaldo W. Sotelo, was released on bond, and a sixth, Alfredo F. Rincon, was scheduled to be released once his family arranged a bond.
Others in the case have been ordered to be held until trial because of the seriousness of charges against them, the possibility of their being flight risks or their criminal history.
Attorneys are debating whether Holloway, his son and Michael J. Orozco will be released before trial. The three men appeared Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court.
Brent Holloway was removed from the courtroom after his attorney asked for more time to go over the indictment against him. He is scheduled to appear in court Thursday afternoon.
In the first telephone recording prosecutors played, a Road Dog employee described an alleged beating that took place in the shipping bay at the shop.
"One of the guys came through the door. I heard the service doors go down. That happens once in a while when they have to teach a customer a lesson," she said, of certain situations when customers failed to pay bills. "I heard yelling and screaming and things hitting the wall and stuff, and I thought it was somebody that they were (beating up)."
Prosecutors played conversations they hoped would demonstrate how Robert Holloway allegedly conducted business at Road Dog and how he would let members of certain motorcycle clubs have bikes from his shop even if they didn't have money on hand to pay for them. In multiple conversations, a voice prosecutors identified as Holloway's talked with people they said were heads of other motorcycle clubs.
"That's why we have this relationship," prosecutors allege Holloway said to defendant Orozco in one recorded call. "Anybody you're co-signing can roll out of here on a bike on your word."
In a conversation prosecutors said Holloway had with the president of the East Bay Dragons, the man identified as Holloway said that he has different ways of dealing with motorcycle club members and nonclub members who don't pay what they owe for motorcycles.
"If he wasn't a club member, I'd be down there beating him up and taking his s---," the man authorities identified as Holloway said. Generally, he said, he calls the club president for help if a club member doesn't pay.
The man identified as Holloway often is cheerful and friendly in conversations, though he curses and expresses frustration in a recording with former Stanislaus County Undersheriff Myron Larson revolving around DeLeon being subpoenaed last fall. DeLeon, he said, was ordered to bring in records relating to when Holloway's wife, Kathy, was DeLeon's secretary.
"They're trying to f--- her anyway they can," the man says. "Whoever the punk motherf----- is who's doing this s--- should be shot. And the worst part of it is I'm not even sure who's behind it."
In the final conversation prosecutors played, the man they identify as Holloway talks with a motorcycle shop worker in Arizona about using guns to deal with difficult customers.
"We got a lot of really nice, loyal, good f------ customers, but there's a few of the a------ element that manage to wander in. Ten years ago, I had to kill one," he said. "I'm a easy guy to do business with. But don't f------ burn me, because that only happens once."
Defense attorneys will have a chance today to cross-examine FBI agent Nate Elias about photographs and wiretap evidence prosecutors submitted.
Defendant Joseph S. Tyler, a former California Highway Patrol officer in Merced, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, which allege that he helped operate a chop shop at Road Dog.
Ray Heffington of Chowchilla pleaded not guilty and was ordered to be held in custody. Authorities said Heffington turned himself in Wednesday, a day after the other Road Dog defendants were arrested. Prosecutors said he is a "self-proclaimed member of the Hells Angels" with convictions related to drug offenses and "crimes of violence" that date to 1993.
Bee staff writer Emilie Raguso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2235.