Central Valley

Road Dog wiretap hearing postponed

FRESNO -- A hearing set for today on wiretap evidence in the case against Road Dog Cycle owner Robert C. Holloway has been postponed because the judge had a scheduling conflict. A new date hasn't been set.

The hearing was a chance for defense attorneys to argue that wiretap evidence against Holloway should be thrown out of court. Holloway, 61, was arrested a year ago with 11 other men on racketeering charges. Authorities say Holloway ran a chop shop from his Denair business, trafficked in stolen motorcycle parts and used violence to collect debts.

Investigators monitored thousands of calls on Holloway's cell, business and home phones in 2007. Wiretaps only are allowed if other, traditional investigative techniques have failed.

Defense attorneys say the wiretap evidence should be tossed. They claim investigators failed to prove that they had exhausted other surveillance methods. Challenges to wiretap evidence rarely succeed, said Holloway's attorney Bill Osterhoudt. But this one was filed under unique circumstances.

At a hearing last week, an ATF agent who worked on the Road Dog case in 2005 told the court that investigators ignored traditional surveillance methods so they could go after a wiretap.

Agent Vince Cefalu of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said investigators wanted to take illegal shortcuts to get the wiretap because they were obsessed with putting Holloway behind bars.

Cefalu says he believes investigators lied on the wiretap application the FBI filed in 2007. Defense attorneys wanted Cefalu to testify last week about the contents of the wiretap application, but U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger wouldn't allow it.

The application was filed nearly two years after Cefalu left the Road Dog investigation. Cefalu was not involved in filing the wiretap application.

"(Cefalu) can't comment on what the FBI did, what they thought and what resources they brought to bear," said Wanger during last week's hearing. "Him characterizing, him evaluating, him, if you will, judging what the FBI said is absolutely irrelevant."

Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at lalbrecht@modbee.com or 578-2378.

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