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Richard Valdemar

Richard Valdemar

Sgt. Richard Valdemar retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after spending most of his 33 years on the job combating gangs.
Gangs

Protecting Gang Witnesses

If we really want to hurt gangs, we need to do a much better job of guarding witnesses.

February 20, 2009  |  by Richard Valdemar - Also by this author

“Three people can keep a secret …If two are dead.” - Hells Angels

Margo Compton got mixed up with the Hells Angel Odis “Buck Garrett, working for him at the San Francisco brothel “The Love Nest.” However, she was later convinced to become a witness against the former Hells Angel Nomad Chapter president and testified against him at a preliminary hearing. She became a protected witness and was preparing to testify at Buck’s trial.

Compton was moved to a small town about 25 miles from Portland, Ore. Her six-year-old twin daughters were living with her in the sleepy little town of Laurelwood. But the fallen Angels from Hell have lots of lost souls under their control everywhere. The eyes of the big red machine located her.

Robert “Bug Eye Bob” McClure was only a H.A. prospect, and he was in debt to Odis “Buck” Garrett. With the promise of earning his “cuts” and actually becoming a full member, repaying his debt, and having two pounds of meth waiting for him when he returned, Bug Eye took the contract on Compton.

Every outlaw biker knows that “snitches wind up in ditches,” but Buck Garrett wanted more than just Margo Compton. He wanted to make an example of her to any other future want-to-be informants. Buck wanted the twins to be killed in front of Margo’s eyes before she died.

The Aryan Brotherhood had been approached by H.A. leadership in California to kill Margo Compton, but former AB council member, Mike Thompson, had turned down the contract because of the H.A.’s insistence on killing the little girls. “It might sound strange, but we do have some ethics,” Thompson told me.

The six-year-old twins, Sandra and Sylvia, were found hugging their teddy bears each shot point blank in the head, while in their bed. Nineteen-year-old Gary Selsar, a family friend, was killed also just because he happened to be in the house. Margo Compton was forced to watch the other murders and then was killed herself.

Years after the quadruple murder, Bug Eye Bob McClure was sent to prison on an unrelated charge. Now a full-patched H.A., McClure bragged about the shooting of the twins to other prisoners. This would be his undoing.

Eighteen years after the murder of the government witness and her twins, my team transported former Aryan Brotherhood members Mike Thompson and Clifford Smith and other prisoners to Washington County, Ore., to testify against Margo Compton’s murderer.
Bug Eye Bob McClure was sentenced to four consecutive life terms for the quadruple murders. Somehow that just doesn’t seem like enough punishment to suit this crime, but “Baby Killers” like snitches have a short life expectancy in prison. The Cons have a justice system of their own. Bug Eye Bob will get to be a real Hells Angel …in Hell.

One of the ten commandments of the drug and criminal culture is “Thou shall not snitch.” Unfortunately this code of criminal conduct has been adopted by our society in general. Even our children are taught not to become little “tattle tales.”  That is why I hate the movie “Scent of a Woman.” It teaches the wrong message.

After many years of studying our U.S. Constitution and the Penal Code of California, I have discovered that snitching is not a crime. Instead, both documents encourage every civic minded citizen to report all crimes against the public welfare to the proper authorities.

In fact, one of the first symptoms that a community is going to “Hell in a hand basket” is that they stop calling the police. Oh, they call when someone steals their car, but they didn’t call the night before when they saw those suspicious looking gang kids hanging around on the street. There are always people in every neighborhood who know which house is the drug house or the bordello. There are folks who know who is abusing their kids or stealing from the work place.

Sometimes these people “don’t want to know.” They think they should mind their own business, as long as personally they are not affected by the dirty deeds. They feel no obligation to get involved, or be their brother’s keeper. Some are truly afraid, and some think that fighting crime is the exclusive job of the police.

The police cannot be everywhere nor can they be affective at all without information provided by citizen witnesses and informants. But when the witnesses or informants are the source of what results in a criminal case, “a special relationship” is developed between them and the government, and they must be protected.

Over the years I have noticed a general degrading of the value and status of these citizen witnesses in the criminal justice system. The killing of a federal judge or prosecutor creates national media attention and the deployment of every resource in the search for the killers. When policemen are murdered, we see the same type of investigation on a slightly smaller scale. But when witnesses are murdered, unless it is as horrific as the Margo Compton case, we rarely hear about it.

There are specific federal and state laws to protect judges, prosecutors, cops, and witnesses, our wiser forefathers put them there. Today I don’t see the same kind of aggressiveness in charging and prosecuting gang members who threaten or assault citizen witnesses.

Good people are afraid to be witnesses, especially against gangs, for good reason. That is why programs like Secret Witness, We Tip, Unsolved Mysteries, and Americas Most Wanted are so popular. They provide an opportunity for the good citizens to safely help law enforcement against the bad guys.

Instead of outlawing guns and ammo or implementing more gang injunctions, instead of shoveling another million into another program run by ex-gang members, we should be strengthening the laws against witness intimidation. Vigorously enforce the slightest violation against any witness. Dramatically increase the budgets for the witness protection systems. And publicly honor every citizen who risks his or her safety to tell the truth in court like Margo Compton.

The Assistant Oregon State Attorney General, the Prosecutor in the Margo Compton case, Robert Hamilton, expressed what every gang fighter should all know and believe. “You send a message in cases like this that if you kill a witness, let alone witnesses with little girls, we will never quit. We are going to come after you forever.”


Related Stories:

Street Gangs Have Their Own Criminal "Culture"

What Not to Do in Anti-Gang Programs

Developing Gang Informants


Comments (2)

Displaying 1 - 2 of 2

David Moore S-55 @ 2/22/2009 5:35 PM

A Major Matter of responsibility and requires the commitment of resources you so stated in this excellent article. We, as a society, have become too quick to conveniently forget about personal responsibility. It is also evident by some of our political leader’s actions or inactions, unethical behavior which is increasingly become prevalent in what many in Law Enforcement see first hand everyday. This if left as is becomes the morally deficient society in which we live. I like to term it the denial syndrome – if we acknowledge then we are also on the hook to fix or show action. What you end up with is the 3 monkey syndrome instead: See no evil – Hear no evil – Speak no evil. :-(

Pete B @ 9/25/2011 10:30 PM

True, regarding our communities going to hell in a handbascket, but I will stress here how important it is for cops to maintain a higher standard than everyone else in a community. Much of the snitching problem can be traced to cops abusing there position & losing the trust of many citizeens. All is not lost, & that trust can be earned back, but it takes a dedicated effort on the part of EVERY cop out there to be the guy or gal that CAN be trusted. When a cop goes bad, the same applies, other cops must ferret the bad ones out & see that they are punished. No "code of silence".

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