A federal judge on Friday fined the Mongols motorcycle club $500,000 in a racketeering and conspiracy case but refused the latest effort in a decade-long attempt by the government to take away the club’s control over its logo — a Genghis Khan-style rider in sunglasses astride a chopper-style bike.
Prosecutors had successfully argued before a jury that the logo was core to the identity of the Los Angeles area-based gang responsible for drug dealing, beatings and murder. They argued that bikers wore the badges like armor to intimidate.
In announcing charges in 2008, prosecutors said a forfeiture order would allow any law enforcement officer to stop a gang member and “literally take the jacket right off his back.”
A jury that in 2018 convicted the club as a whole of racketeering and conspiracy agreed in January that the club’s trademarks should be forfeited to the government.
But in February, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter nullified that part of the verdict, saying it would violate the First Amendment rights to freedom of association and Eighth Amendment protections against excessive penalties.
On Friday, while fining the club and ordering it placed on five years of probation, Carter rejected a different request by the government. Instead of trying to strip Mongol members of their logo, it asked the judge to order the club to give up its trademarks, making it unable to prevent others from using the image, the Los Angeles Times reported.
It was unclear whether the government planned to appeal.
The Mongols was founded in a Los Angeles suburb in 1969. The group is estimated to have more than 1,000 riders in chapters worldwide.