Hells Angels sue state over seized property

Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The Hells Angels are suing Alaska.

A lawyer representing the Fairbanks branch of the motorcycle club filed a lawsuit against the state and the Department of Public Safety. Plaintiffs claim Alaska State Troopers and other law officers refuse to return members' vests, jackets, buttons and patches seized over the past several years.

In a two-page civil complaint, attorney Bill Satterberg alleges officers have taken club memorabilia, claiming it was necessary for evidence, but then failed to return it even after cases have been resolved.

In some instances, the officers have said the items were returned, but they never were, the lawsuit claims.

''There's several questions regarding the evidentiary value of these items, but certain officers find they have a significant souvenir value,'' Satterberg said.

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 15 in Fairbanks Superior Court, calls for the return of all the emblems, jackets and patches seized by officers and for the officers to stop the practice. It also seeks attorney's fees and court costs involved in the lawsuit.

Assistant Attorney General Randy Olsen told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner that his office, which represents the state in Fairbanks cases, has not been served with the lawsuit. He declined to comment, saying he has not read the complaint or heard of it.

Although Satterberg's lawsuit does not mention specifics, he said that there are at least two instances of officers taking Hells Angels property. One involves a trooper and the other involves police at Fairbanks International Airport.

Satterberg said there are other alleged instances and that the Fairbanks Police Department will likely be added to the lawsuit as a defendant.

In most cases, Satterberg said items taken depict the Hells Angels trademark logo -- a leather-helmeted skull with a large wing attached to it -- and are the property of the local club.

''It might sound in a way like a trivia, but it would be the same as if someone took Alaska State Troopers stuff and was disrespecting it,'' Satterberg said.

Satterberg said that at this time the lawsuit does not involve a Sept. 21 raid of the Hells Angels' compound off the Richardson Highway. The raid involved Fairbanks police and a high speed chase. Two club members were arrested in that case.

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