Christian biker leader gets probation for role in bar brawl

Orange County Register/May 18, 2010

Anaheim - The head of the Set Free Soldiers Christian motorcycle club has resolved a nearly two-year criminal case by pleading guilty to a misdemeanor for his role in a bloody barroom brawl involving members of the Hells Angels.

Phillip Aguilar, 62, of Anaheim pleaded guilty last week to possession of ammunition by a prohibited person and was sentenced to three years of probation by Judge Margaret Anderson at the Harbor Justice Center in Newport Beach.

In exchange for Aguilar's guilty plea Thursday, prosecutors dismissed three felony charges against him: possession of a firearm by a felon, possession of brass knuckles, and street terrorism, said Farrah Emami, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

Aguilar, a twice-convicted felon before the 2008 beachside brawl erupted, is founder of the Set Free church in Anaheim, where his Christian motorcycle club originated.

Supporters of Aguilar and his followers describe the Set Free Soldiers as a Christian ministry on motorcycles whose members help the downtrodden and recovering addicts, and preach faith and peace.

Prosecutors and police, however, describe the Set Free Soldiers as an outlaw biker gang.

The charges against Aguilar and five other members of the Set Free Soldiers stem from a brawl at Blackies by the Sea in Newport Beach on July 27, 2008.

Early that afternoon, a group of Set Free Soldiers, wearing leather biker jackets and club colors, were at Blackies when members of the rival motorcycle club Hells Angels showed up, according to prosecutors.

About 15 minutes later, a fight erupted.

In the ensuing melee, two members of the Hells Angels were stabbed, and one Set Free Soldier was punched with a billiard bar, according to police.

A week after the brawl, about 150 police from throughout Orange County raided homes associated with the motorcycle clubs and concluded that the brawl allegedly was arranged beforehand by Set Free Soldiers.

Police then arrested Aguilar and six associates on suspicion of conspiracy to commit murder.

Ultimately, prosecutors filed attempted murder charges against only one of the Set Free Soldiers, Jose Enrique Quinones, 43, of Anaheim.

In December, Quinones pleaded guilty to that charge and a charge of street terrorism, plus a sentencing enhancement of causing great bodily injury, and was sentenced to eight years in state prison.

Four other Set Free Soldiers were charged with weapons and gang-related crimes.

Aguilar's son, Matthew John Aguilar, 31, of Anaheim pleaded guilty to possession of a deadly weapon and is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 14, Emami said.

The elder Aguilar's son in law, Michael Alan Timanus Jr., 31, faces charges of street terrorism and possession of a firearm by a felon. His case appears to be set for a preliminary hearing, Emami said.

In December 2008, Rodrigo Jose Requejo, 36, of Westminster, pleaded guilty to one felony count of aggravated assault for his role in the brawl. He was sentenced to three years of formal probation and 30 days in jail.

Meanwhile, Glenn Arthur Schoemen, 58, pleaded guilty in September to street terrorism and being an accessory after the fact, Emami said. Schoemen was sentenced to three years informal probation and 120 days in jail.

Two alleged associates of the Hells Angels motorcycle club also were charged in connection with the fight.

In early March, a judge tossed out drug and weapons charges against Brian David Heslington, 37, of Costa Mesa, citing concerns about a Newport Beach detective's honesty.

The District Attorney's office "was unable to proceed at the time" with the case but reserves the right to refile charges against Heslington, Emami said.

Another Hells Angels member to be charged in the incident, John Phillip Lloyd, 42, faces a jury trail on June 4 on charges of street terrorism and being a gang member carrying a loaded weapon, Emami said.

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