SAN DIEGO–The former president of the San Diego Chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club was sentenced to 25 years to prison for solicitation of murder, kidnapping, robbery, and assault.
In a rare move for a case involving the Hells Angels, Stephen Sanders, 44, admitted that he kidnapped two people for the benefit of a criminal street gang, as defined by California law.
“In recent years, this defendant has engaged in a series of violent crimes against the citizens of San Diego,” DA Dumanis said. “During the course of being prosecuted in a kidnapping and mayhem case, he conspired to murder those who were key parts of the case against him. Our office dismantled his plans to have witnesses and law enforcement officers killed, holding him accountable for his actions.”
Over the last several months, this office has prosecuted several cases involving Sanders. They include:
· A July 2012 conviction involving a robbery and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury
· A March 2012 conviction for solicitation to commit murder for his role in trying to get witnesses and law enforcement investigators killed in connection with a pending kidnapping and torture case against him
· A guilty plea in April to charges of assault with a deadly weapon in connection with a violent attack on party goers in Pacific Beach
· A guilty plea in June to charges of felony kidnapping and admitting to committing crimes for the benefit of a criminal street gang
The District Attorney’s Office and The Drug Enforcement Administration worked together to investigate this case, with the District Attorney’s Office taking the lead in prosecution.
“Steve Sanders committed violent acts and has a violent criminal history. We are extremely pleased by the sentence he received today,” said Special Agent in Charge William R. Sherman of the San Diego Drug Enforcement Administration. “Thanks to the hard work of our agents and our law enforcement partners on the Narcotics Task Force, this violent criminal has been permanently removed from our streets and San Diego is a safer place.”
During yesterday’s hearing, Sanders, through his attorney, moved to withdraw his previously entered guilty plea claiming that he had discovered a new witness who, at the time, was a fellow inmate in the county jail and now is serving a sentence in state prison. Judge Robert H. O’Neill denied the motion finding that a witness that is ‘discovered’ after speaking with Sanders in the confines of a jail cell lacks credibility and did not provide good cause to withdraw his plea.
Sanders addressed the court during sentencing saying he felt pressured to enter the plea because he faced a lengthy sentence if convicted at trial. He claimed that he never admitted the Hells Angels were a criminal street gang despite his previous admission on the record. Judge O’Neill sentenced Sanders to 25 years in state prison. He had previously waived any right to appeal as part of the plea agreement.