FRESNO -- A Manteca motorcycle club leader charged in the federal racketeering case against a Denair cycle shop pleaded guilty Monday, prosecutors said.
Michael J. Orozco, 52, admitted he was guilty of one count of conspiracy to collect extensions of credit by extortionate means. Orozco, a leader in the Manteca chapter of the Alky Haulers motorcycle club, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, but prosecutors will recommend a lesser sentence as part of the plea agreement. Orozco's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 24.
Orozco is one of about a dozen defendants snared in the federal investigation into the Road Dog Cycle Shop in Denair. Prosecutors say the shop was home to a criminal enterprise for more than a decade. Authorities say shop owner Bob Holloway, once a Stanislaus County sheriff's deputy, trafficked in stolen motorcycle parts and used violence to collect debts.
Orozco is the first of the 12 defendants named in the Road Dog racketeering case to plead guilty, said U.S. attorney's office spokeswoman Lauren Horwood. Defendant Ray Heffington also has filed a plea agreement, but has not yet pleaded guilty in court, said Horwood. Heffington is charged with conspiracy to traffic in motor vehicle parts and conspiracy to operate a chop shop.
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Orozco said in the plea agreement that he conspired with Holloway to "implicitly threaten the use of violence" against a man who borrowed $5,000 from Orozco and Holloway in August 2007. Prosecutors say Orozco and Holloway made the loan with the understanding that if the borrower, Josh Bell, didn't repay the money on time, they would harm Bell or take his property.
In court filings, prosecutors said Orozco took Bell's motorcycle because he owed money to Holloway.
Orozco was arrested along with Holloway and eight other men in July, after a multiyear FBI investigation into Road Dog. Orozco has been in jail since then.
In deciding Orozco's sentence, Judge Oliver W. Wanger will consider several factors. Orozco's attorney, Mac McGinnis, said he'll argue for a lighter sentence because his client has a clean criminal record. McGinnis called Orozco a "nonviolent person" and a "good father."
"Mr. Orozco is looking forward to presenting the many mitigating facts and positive aspects of his life that haven't been previously brought out in the reports from the government," said McGinnis. In an indictment filed last year, Orozco also was charged with one count of making extortionate extensions of credit. That count will be dropped at Orozco's sentencing hearing, said Horwood.
Holloway, the prime target in the government's case, remains in custody awaiting trial. He recently won permission to move from a Fresno jail to a halfway house, although the transfer hasn't happened yet, said Bill Osterhoudt, Holloway's attorney.
Osterhoudt had no comment Monday on how Orozco's plea deal will affect Holloway's case. Holloway's trial has yet to be scheduled. Orozco will not testify at Holloway's trial, said McGinnis.
Two other men arrested in connection with the Road Dog investigation, Daniel Martell and Roger Bird, pleaded guilty earlier this year to being felons in possession of firearms. Martell and Bird were not defendants in the racketeering case.
Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2378.