FRESNO -- Denair motorcycle shop owner Bob Holloway will be released from jail and transferred to a halfway house, a federal judge ruled Monday.
Holloway, 61, is the prime target in a federal case that snared him, his son Brent, and about dozen other defendants. FBI investigators say Holloway presided over a criminal enterprise at his Road Dog Cycle Shop. Holloway is accused of using violence to collect debts and trafficking in stolen motorcycle parts, among other charges. Holloway retired as a deputy from the Stanislaus County Sheriff's Department in 1985.
Holloway has been in custody at the Fresno County Jail awaiting trial since his July arrest. No date has been set for his trial. Holloway probably will be released within a few weeks to Turning Point, a Fresno halfway house, said defense attorney Bill Osterhoudt.
The court will set the conditions of Holloway's release -- for example, whether he'll be allowed out of the halfway house during the day, and whether he'll wear an electronic monitoring device.
Defense attorneys argued for Holloway's release because, they said, Holloway's mental and physical condition have deteriorated in jail. They said Holloway's confinement has hampered his ability to help attorneys defend him in the complex case.
"Our client is suffering in custody," Osterhoudt said. "It's not right. (At the halfway house) he'll be able to be in a more humane environment where he can defend himself and I feel good about it."
Brent Holloway was released from custody in August.
Prosecutors declined to comment after U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger's ruling. In court filings, prosecutors said releasing Holloway would be dangerous because his supporters had threatened government witnesses. Prosecutors said Holloway had a history of violence and had threatened violence to collect debts more than once.
Prosecutors submitted a statement from another of Holloway's sons, Brian, saying that he would fear for his safety and his family's safety if his father were released from jail. The statement alleges that Bob Holloway once threatened to kill Brian Holloway and his family over money that he owed his father. The threat was made during Bob Holloway's 2001 murder trial, according to the statement. Holloway was acquitted of the murder charge.
Holloway was tried after he confronted a career criminal in July 1997 who tried to rob his shop, accidentally killing the man during a scuffle.
Funds, friends worldwide
According to Brian Holloway's statement, Bob Holloway said during the murder trial that "he would never spend a day in jail" and that he would "run" if it looked like the trial wasn't going in his favor. Brian Holloway said in the statement that he believes Bob Holloway is a flight risk because he has money and contacts "all over the world."
According to Osterhoudt, Wanger acknowledged Monday that the Holloway case presents potential elements of danger. But Wanger said Holloway's continued confinement in a halfway house would keep the larger community safe.
Mickeal Wright, an elder in the Modesto chapter of Bikers for Christ, said he was excited about Holloway's pending release. Wright submitted a letter to the court on Holloway's behalf in August, when attorneys first tried to get Holloway out of jail.
"It's a shame that they've held him in there as long as they have," Wright said. "I truly believe in his innocence."
Fund-raisers for Holloway
Wright helped organize an April dinner at the Denair Community Center to raise money for Holloway's defense. Wright estimated that 200 to 300 people attended.
Prosecutors say that at a May 2 fund-raiser for Holloway, defense attorney Roger Vehrs "begged the crowd" not to threaten a witness. They say the witness, Richie Baptista, received a threatening phone call later that day. Defense attorneys say Vehrs didn't attend that event and there's no evidence that Holloway was behind the threat.
In court filings, defense attorneys concede that FBI wiretaps caught Holloway in outbursts that were "unfortunate and misguided."
But, attorneys argue, "the fact is that despite these occasional outbursts of temper and frustration, there is no convincing proof that Holloway has harmed anyone."
Bee staff writer Leslie Albrecht can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2378.