Federal prosecutors on Monday pulled back on their request to throw out the testimony of a star government witness who admitted he repeatedly lied on the witness stand during a racketeering trial for a group of reputed motorcycle gang members.
In reversing their stance from four days earlier, prosecutors wrote in a brief that they no longer objected to defense attorneys’ cross-examination of Gary “Jabbers” Rudnick.
Last week, Assistant U.S. Attorney John Han said prosecutors had “grave concerns” about the veracity of Rudnick’s testimony but suggested they could still prove their case through other witnesses.
Rudnick, who cooperated with authorities, spent more than three days telling jurors that members of the Vagos Motorcycle Club had plotted to kill a rival biker in Sparks in 2011. He later admitted that he lied to jurors about having met face-to-face with one of the defense attorneys and a private investigator in the case.
On Monday, Rudnick stopped short of testifying about whether he told prosecutors and federal investigators details about the meeting.
Defense attorneys for the eight men on trial accused government prosecutors of persuading Rudnick to lie about the meeting and asked to have the most serious charges of murder and conspiracy to participate in a racketeering enterprise thrown out.
U.S. District Chief Judge Gloria Navarro has not decided whether to dismiss the charges.
Prosecutors have said that leaders of Vagos orchestrated the September 2011 killing of a rival Hells Angels leader on the floor of John Ascuaga’s Nugget.
Each defendant on trial is from California, and they range in age from 36 to 70.
That includes Ernesto “Romeo” Manuel Gonzalez, who fired the shot that killed a leader of the Hells Angels, and Pastor Fausto Palafox, the Vagos international president known as “TaTa.”
Thirteen more defendants are awaiting trial in a case that prosecutors allege involves Vagos and crimes in Nevada, California, Arizona, Hawaii, Oregon and Utah.
Prosecutors have written in court papers that Vagos operated as a criminal enterprise and engaged in drug distribution, firearms trafficking, murder, kidnapping, assault, extortion, robbery and witness intimidation.
Gonzalez was found guilty of murder in state court, but his conviction was overturned, and he was indicted in the federal case while awaiting a retrial.