United States v. Bingham

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Procedure
  • Date Filed: 08-04-2011
  • Case #: 06-50668; 06-50669
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Rymer for the Court; Circuit Judges Callahan and Ikuta
  • Full Text Opinion

A defendant’s leadership involvement in prison gang operations to promote and orchestrate acts of murder, racketeering and conspiracy, is sufficient for supporting convictions of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations ACT (“RICO”) and for committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering (“VICAR”).

Tyler Davis Bingham and Edgar Hevle, members of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang (“AB”), were found guilty of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) ACT and the violent crimes in aid of racketeering (“VICAR”) for the murder of three other inmates belonging to the AB and a rival prison gang. Bingham and Hevle both hold leadership positions within the AB, whose main purpose is to orchestrate criminal activities such as drug trafficking and to protect incarcerated members and the AB organization by any means necessary, including killing the gang’s enemies and members who step out of line. Bingham and Helve appealed their convictions, stating insufficient evidence and due process violations. To support these claims, Bingham points to a restructuring of the AB’s leadership organization, the knowing use of false testimony by the prosecution, and statements made by Bingham meant as a warning being misinterpreted as evidence of an order to kill. The Ninth Circuit held that a restructuring of the AB’s leadership was immaterial to Bingham’s racketeering and conspiracy convictions as the gang’s main objective and goals did not change, that there was no evidence to support a perjured testimony theory and that a reasonable jury could interpret Bingham’s statements as an order to kill. Hevle also contended that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions, but the Court ruled that there was sufficient evidence to convict him of murder, racketeering and conspiracy under the Pinkerton theory of liability. AFFIRMED.

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