PORTLAND, Ore.—Two members of the Gypsy Joker Outlaw Motorcycle Club (GJOMC) were sentenced to life in federal prison today for kidnapping, torturing, and murdering a former club member.
GJOMC Portland clubhouse president Mark Leroy Dencklau, 61, of Woodburn, Oregon and Portland clubhouse member Chad Leroy Erickson, 51, of Rainier, Oregon, received the life sentences after being convicted at trial in December 2021 of murder in aid of racketeering; kidnapping in aid of racketeering, resulting in death; kidnapping resulting in death; and conspiracy to commit kidnapping, resulting in death. Additionally, Dencklau was found guilty of racketeering conspiracy.
“Mark Dencklau and Chad Erickson will rightfully serve the rest of their lives in federal prison. These men prided themselves in using violence to intimidate others and increase their power and influence among club members and rivals. Organized violent crime has no place in Oregon and will not be tolerated. Today’s sentences were years in the making and required a dedicated and coordinated law enforcement effort. We are grateful to all the law enforcement agencies who participated in bringing these men to justice and exposing the Gypsy Jokers as the ruthless, violent gang they are,” said Scott Erik Asphaug, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.
“The heinous nature of these crimes truly warrant these life sentences,” said ATF Seattle Field Division Special Agent in Charge Jonathan T. McPherson. “ATF has vigorously investigated, and will continue to investigate, these outlaw motorcycle gangs when they perpetrate criminal acts.”
According to court documents and trial testimony, the GJOMC is a hierarchical criminal organization wherein members and associates maintain their position and status in the organization by participating in, directly or indirectly, various acts of violent racketeering activity including murder, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, narcotics trafficking, and witness tampering. Since the 1980s, the club has been active in several states including Oregon and Washington and, until recently, operated six clubhouses in the Pacific Northwest. The club also has international chapters in Germany, Australia, and Norway.
From 2003 until his arrest, Dencklau served as the president of the club’s Portland chapter. The GJOMC also oversaw several support clubs in Oregon and Washington including the Road Brothers Northwest Motorcycle Club, Solutions Motorcycle Club, Northwest Veterans Motorcycle Club, High-Side Riders, and the Freedom Fellowship Motorcycle Club. Support club members conducted criminal activities in support of the GJOMC and served as a source of new members and revenue for the club.
On July 1, 2015, the body of Robert Huggins, an estranged member of the GJOMC Portland chapter, was found lying in a field in Clark County, Washington. Huggins’ body was badly beaten, and he appeared to have been tortured prior to his death. Huggins was previously stripped of his club membership for allegedly stealing from the club and, after breaking into Dencklau’s Woodburn residence, tying up Dencklau’s girlfriend and stealing multiple firearms. In the days and weeks following this robbery, Dencklau directed GJOMC members to find Huggins.
Several government witnesses testified at trial to Dencklau, Erickson, and their co-defendants’ roles in the revenge kidnapping, torture, and murder of Huggins. On the evening of June 30, 2015, Dencklau and others kidnapped Huggins from a residence in Portland and transported him to a rural property in Southwest Washington. Over the course of several hours, Huggins was severely beaten and tortured. He sustained numerous injuries to his head and face, including a fractured skull; lacerations to his chest and torso; and removed nipples. A local medical examiner ruled that Huggins’ death was caused by multiple blunt and sharp force injuries.
On June 28, 2018, a federal grand jury in Portland returned a four-count indictment charging Dencklau; Earl Deverle Fisher, 48, of Gresham, Oregon; and Tiler Evan Pribbernow, 40, of Portland, with murder in aid of racketeering; kidnapping in aid of racketeering, resulting in death; kidnapping resulting in death and conspiracy to commit kidnapping, resulting in death.
Later, on November 29, 2018, Dencklau; Fisher; Erickson; Kenneth Earl Hause, 64, of Aumsville, Oregon; Ryan Anthony Negrinelli, 36, of Gresham, Oregon; and Joseph Duane Folkerts, 61, of Battleground, Washington, were charged by superseding indictment with racketeering conspiracy.
In December 2021, the federal jury who convicted Dencklau and Erickson acquitted Erickson and Hause, the GJOMC national president, of racketeering conspiracy.
On April 12, 2022, after previously pleading guilty, Pribbernow was sentenced to 140 months in federal prison. Fisher, Negrinelli, and Folkerts have also pleaded guilty and are awaiting sentencing.
U.S. Attorney Asphaug and Special Agent in Charge McPherson made the announcement.
This case was investigated by the Portland Police Bureau and ATF, with assistance from the U.S. Marshals Service, IRS-Criminal Investigation, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office, Oregon State Police, and the Oregon and Washington State Crime Labs. Leah K. Bolstad and Steven T. Mygrant, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon, prosecuted the case with Damaré Theriot, Trial Attorney for the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section.
This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN). In keeping with the Attorney General’s mission to reduce violent crime, the District of Oregon’s PSN program focuses on prosecuting those individuals who most significantly drive violence in our communities, and supports and fosters partnerships between law enforcement, community organizations, and local community leaders to prevent and deter future criminal conduct.
This prosecution is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles the highest-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten the U.S. by using a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.