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June 29, 2015

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Mongols file complaint with DA, allege evidence tampering and police harassment

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Sam Morris

Members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club shake hands outside the Boulder City Inn and Suites as they hold their annual convention in Boulder City Saturday, June 23, 2012.

Mongols in Boulder City

Members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club stand guard outside the Boulder City Inn and Suites as they hold their annual convention in Boulder City Saturday, June 23, 2012. Launch slideshow »

The Mongols motorcycle club is filing a complaint with the Clark County District Attorney's Office this week, alleging the Boulder City Police Department targeted its members for harassment and tried to destroy evidence of possible civil rights abuses during the club's national meeting in Boulder City this past summer.

Stephen Stubbs, a Las Vegas tax attorney representing the Mongols bikers, shared internal police department emails – which Stubbs said he had verified as authentic – Thursday with District Attorney Steve Wolfson to back up the Mongols’ allegations against Boulder City Police.

In one leaked email to City Attorney Dave Olsen and Judge Victor Miller, Police Chief Thomas Finn asked the court to adopt a "zero tolerance" approach in prosecuting any ordinance violations, traffic violations and other misdemeanors against the "Mongol Miscreants."

"As part of our zero tolerance approach, all the law enforcement agencies have asked if our court and prosecutor would consider 'no deals' when the misdemeanors are adjudicated," Finn wrote. "Doing so would make it clear to the 'Mongol Miscreants' that Boulder City does not tolerate bad behavior."

In another leaked email, Finn suggested to 31 city employees that they delete all emails related to their preparations for the Mongols gathering in June.

"If they submit a records request for them, it would obviously show our hand and divulge the strategies and staffing levels we need to keep confidential," Finn wrote. "Therefore, please delete any and all emails related to the event immediately."

Finn did not respond to requests for comments. City Manager Vicki Mayes, who is one of the recipients of Finn's email – declined to comment.

Stubbs argued that both emails are evidence of police profiling of Mongols members, which he said was in violation of their civil rights. Furthermore, Finn's request to delete emails is tantamount to destroying evidence that could be used in court – a gross misdemeanor offense punishable up to one year in prison, Stubbs said.

"Those (email) records belong to the public," Stubbs said. "This is a police chief who willfully is destroying evidence and is telling his department to destroy evidence."

The District Attorney's Office declined to comment Thursday afternoon.

This complaint represents the latest salvo in a months-long lawsuit against local police departments by the Southern Nevada Confederation of Clubs, a Las Vegas-based organization that includes 37 local motorcycle clubs.

The lawsuit – filed in U.S. District Court one day after the Mongols' national meeting in Boulder City in late June – alleges that members of the Mongols, Bandidos, Vagos and Stray Cats motorcycle clubs were "unlawfully targeted and harassed" by police officers from Boulder City, Metro and North Las Vegas over the past several years.

The motorcycle clubs’ grievances range from an arrest of a member on a false warrant and trespassing on a private event to questionable police stops and police brutality.

In one incident, a male police officer allegedly groped a female biker during a stop. In another incident, a police officer allegedly pushed a biker's head against a police car, detained him for more than an hour and slammed the car door on his foot, breaking it.

The suit, which was amended earlier this month to include more incidents, seeks damages of $75,000 on each claim for relief and also punitive and exemplary damages in excess of $75,000.

Stubbs, who represents the motorcycle confederation, said the quiet and calm Mongols gathering this summer demonstrated good behavior on the part of the bikers. The same could not be said for some of the police officers, he added.

"These bikers have the same constitutional rights as anybody else," Stubbs said. "It's offensive that some police officers would violate their rights, the same ones they are sworn to protect."

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