Mongols Motorcycle Club members have refiled a federal civil rights lawsuit, naming individual Boulder City police officers among others. A similar lawsuit was dismissed in July because of filing errors.
The suit, filed Aug. 30, names current Boulder City Police Detective Scott Pastore and former Police Chief Thomas Finn, who was fired in April, as defendants. It also names Sgt. Vince Albowicz, incorrectly spelled “Alboweitz” in the complaint, who was not named in the initial suit. The suit claims Finn, Pastore and Albowicz violated the constitutional rights of club members during its national meeting at Boulder Inn in June 2012. Other defendants include Metropolitan Police Department, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie and numerous Las Vegas officers.
The complaint states Finn, Pastore and Albowicz and Las Vegas police officers “conspired and devised a plan to harass members of the Mongols Motorcycle Club and their guests to the point that they would never want to come back to Boulder City or Southern Nevada ever again.” According to the complaint, Finn, Pastore and Albowicz aided Las Vegas police in illegally placing cameras outside the Boulder Inn to film the Mongols’ party.
“Without permission, a warrant, or probable cause, LVMPD video recorded every part of the outside of the Boulder Inn and Suites private property, including those parts of the property that are guarded by high privacy walls and closed off to the general public, in violation of Plaintiffs’ Fourth Amendment Right to privacy, and against search and seizure,” the complaint states.
Finn also asked Boulder City Municipal Judge Victor Miller to violate the plaintiffs’ 14th Amendment equal protection rights by asking him to accept no plea deals for Mongols citations, the complaint states.
Additionally, the complaint states Finn refused to act on a complaint that Las Vegas police were trespassing on Boulder Inn property, therefore violating the Mongols’ First Amendment right to peacefully assemble.
The lawsuit also seeks relief for events unrelated to Boulder City or Boulder City officers. Plaintiffs are seeking a minimum of $1.65 million, plus attorneys’ fees, said Mongols attorney Stephen Stubbs. The suit was initially filed last year by the Southern Nevada Confederation of Clubs, which includes the Mongols and 36 other biker organizations, and 33 individual plaintiffs.
U.S. District Judge Andrew P. Gordon ruled in July that confederation was an improper plaintiff, and that the bulky, 46-page suit needed to be broken up and refiled as separate suits with incidents grouped by the multiple motorcycle clubs involved. The plaintiffs were given until Aug. 30 to refile. All 22 plaintiffs in the refiled suit are Mongols members, Stubbs said.
“The majority of the suit was the Mongols anyway,” Stubbs said. A separate, but connected suit, naming the same defendants as the Mongols’ suit, was filed by the Boulder Inn on Aug. 30. Claims that Boulder Inn’s civil rights were violated by police during the Mongols meeting were part of the original suit, but were dismissed because Boulder Inn was not listed as a plaintiff in the suit.
Boulder Inn also claims its rights were violated when police trespassed on its property and illegally placed cameras outside the property to film the Mongols’ party. However, Boulder Inn is not seeking monetary damages, Stubbs said.
“They want the court to declare that what was done was against the law, and issue a permanent injunction so it never happens again,” Stubbs said.
An additional civil rights suit was filed on behalf of the Stray Cats Motorcycle Club, but it does not name Boulder City officers, Stubbs said.
Other claims for bikers originally party to the suit will be filed in state court, he said.
“Now that the judge has ordered we split them up, some of the causes of action are only state claims,” Stubbs said. “There’s more to come, just not in federal court.”
Finn said in a statement Tuesday that surveillance cameras were installed on city-owned property by Las Vegas police, but he claimed the lawsuit is “nothing more than (Stubbs’) personal vandetta and insatiable need for publicity.”
“(Stubbs) is attempting to demonstrate his knowledge of constitutional law with what is nothing more than a self-serving repeat of his failure to know the law and follow the federal court judge’s advice when he dismissed Stubbs’ defective lawsuit in July,” Finn said. “The citizens of Boulder City should be outraged by Stubbs’ waste of their tax dollars to defend his baseless allegations.”
Pastore and Albowicz did not return requests for comment.
Reporter Jack Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-586-9401.