LAS VEGAS -- Quiet Boulder City might seem an odd place for the notorious Mongols Motorcycle Club to hold its national meeting, and that's what law enforcement thought too.
A continuing battle over the police response to last summer's biker gathering has exposed an ugly side to politics in Boulder City. That town's police chief alleges he's the victim of religious persecution.
Police Chief Tom Finn says his enforcement efforts against the Mongols have put him at odds with the city's entire power structure.
"He says everybody is trying to get him out. The only person who's trying to get him out is me," Mongols' attorney, Stephen Stubbs, said.
He is known to his biker clients by the nickname Bowtie and he makes no bones about it that he is on a campaign to get Boulder City Police Chief Tom Finn canned. Stubbs and Finn have been going at it in court, and in the media, since last summer when Stubbs' clients, the Mongols Motorcycle Club, held a national meeting in Boulder City.
The Mongols are considered, by nearly every law enforcement agency in the country, including the FBI and ATF, to be an outlaw gang, organized crime on wheels, so Finn, Metro Police, and other agencies were ready for trouble and had a huge presence. Stubbs said police repeatedly violated the law by harassing his clients.
"When the Mongols came in, there were 17 tickets for illegal handlebars and they weren't illegal. They were unconstitutional tickets," He said, adding, the tickets were all tossed out.
To Stubbs, the Mongols are not outlaws, they're more like Libertarians. He told the I-Team, members of the local chapter have no criminal records. He's filed a federal lawsuit against Metro Police alleging an ongoing pattern of civil rights violations by police, and he's taking on Finn as well.
Finn said he had good reason for being careful with the Mongols. Their bitter rivals, the Hells Angels, were meeting that same weekend in Las Vegas.
"We had received information from a reliable source that there was a shoot to kill order issued by the Mongols leadership if any Hells Angels showed up at that event," Chief Finn said. "They are like oil and water. They just hate each other, and when one sees the other, the fight is on."
Stubbs calls that concern baloney. He said the two clubs had a truce for that weekend. Even so, it's hard to forget the bloody images from the Laughlin River Run in 2002 when three people were killed in a fight between the Angels and Mongols, or the same clubs in a bloody brawl at a downtown Las Vegas wedding chapel in 2010.
Finn issued an email which said his cops would have a zero tolerance policy while the Mongols were in town. He later ordered the email deleted; worried it might fall into the wrong hands.
Stubbs said it is a felony to delete a public record and has gone after the chief. Finn thinks Stubbs is a stalking horse for his fellow Mormons -- Councilman Cam Walker, City Attorney Dave Olsen, and City Manager David Fraser. They not only attend the same church, but Stubbs was one of Walker's most vocal supporters when Walker ran for office.
When Stubbs brought the Mongols to City Hall prior to the event, Walker helped welcome them. During the event, he joined them on the street. And when his friend Stubbs could not reach Chief Finn to complain about police tactics, Walker intervened via text, asking the chief to call Stubbs to "say hi".
"I looked at it and, call him to say hi? Is he out of his mind? So, I sent him back a text saying, I have nothing else to say to Mr. Stubbs," said Finn.
Walker was furious, Finn said, and went to the city manager to ask that Finn be fired or disciplined. Finn said, by law, council members aren't supposed to issue orders to the police or try to have the chief punished. One of the ethics complaints he filed names Walker and City Attorney Dave Olsen. Olsen denies being part of any cabal but agrees that it was a serious matter when Finn deleted his email about the Mongols.
"Any email documents you create with city equipment is public property," City Attorney Dave Olsen said.
I-Team: "So no one who works for the city and uses a city computer ever deletes an email?"
Olsen: "I don't know."
Finn said, ever since Mongols weekend, Walker, Olsen, and Stubbs, have worked together to make his life miserable.
In a federal EEOC complaint, he alleges it's because he's a Catholic, not a Mormon. His critics think the chief has flipped.
"What I'm trying to show is that Chief Finn isn't a clean cut guy who never does anything wrong. I've got evidence of three felonies," Stubbs said.
"I think he has done more damage to his own reputation by doing this than the city could possibly have done. We would like to see the chief get well and that is all," Olsen said.
"I had a job to do that weekend and I think I did it pretty damn well. Basically nothing happened the entire weekend. They came, they partied. They left. That's all I was shooting for," Finn said.
One almost needs a scorecard to keep track of all the legal fights and ethics complaints. So far, Stephen Stubbs has been winning.
A judge threw out Chief Finn's lawsuit and awarded attorneys fees to Stubbs. Finn has filed an appeal and Stubbs has filed a countersuit. His lawsuit against Metro Police and other agencies could take years to decide.
In the meantime, Finn has filed five ethics complaints against city leaders, and he expects them to fire him when he shows up for work Monday morning.