Was head of OC biker gang a 'rat'? Testimony will help determine if Mongols get new trial

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Thursday, June 30, 2022
OC Mongols biker club seeking new trial in racketeering case
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Claims that the head of the Mongols Motorcycle Club was a federal informant sit at the center of a bid to overturn the group's racketeering conviction.

SANTA ANA, Calif. (KABC) -- A judge is expected to decide soon whether to order a new trial against the Mongols Motorcycle Club in Orange County, who were convicted of racketeering and conspiracy in 2018.

At the center of the decision is the question as to whether the then-president of the club was serving as a confidential informant for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

A June 2021 recorded phone conversation between Annie Santillan and her husband, David Santillan, is a key element in the federal court hearing where a judge will decide if there is enough evidence for a new trial.

David, the club's now former president, is accused of being a confidential informant for the ATF. The club's defense team is using that accusation against David as part of the effort to obtain a new trial.

In the secret recording David is heard talking to his wife about the expected retirement of John Ciccone, the lead ATF agent on the case.

"After one year he's done and he can't protect me, so we have to have an exit strategy," David said to his wife on the phone.

On Tuesday, Annie testified that she shared the video of the conversation through text messages with other members of the biker gang.

She told them David was "simply a (confidential informant). In other words he is a rat."

However, Annie now says her husband was never an informant and she only said that to get back at him for having an affair at the time.

On the witness stand David also denied the accusations that he was disloyal to the Mongols.

"I just spoke the truth and the truth will prevail," David said.

He said Ciccone had been fair to him and the club over two decades.

He said he only found out Ciccone was retiring when he ran into him after the original trial.

David said Mongols' defense attorney, Joseph Yanny, is pushing a false narrative.

"He's lining his pockets with the club's money and in the end I feel I'll be vindicated," David said.

Yanny said the case is moving in the right direction and he believes they will be able to get a new trial.

"Dave has been in an improper relationship with the federal government for a long time," Yanny said.

David Santillan is expected to continue his testimony on Wednesday.

Ciccone is also expected to take the witness stand.