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Gang organizer jailed again; release likely.

Byline: Jack Moran The Register-Guard

Four months after allegedly fleeing Oregon in violation of his probation, the founder of the Mongols Motorcycle Club's Oregon chapter turned himself in to the Lane County Jail on Tuesday.

But Justin "Mooch" DeLoretto's time behind bars may not last long.

Lane County sheriff's Capt. Doug Hooley said DeLoretto could be released from the jail at any time, due to a lack of available space for inmates in the understaffed county lockup.

It wouldn't be the first time DeLoretto was released early from the facility because of overcrowding. Last June, sheriff's officials cut him loose one day after a Lane County Circuit Court judge sentenced him to one year in jail.

DeLoretto was convicted earlier in June of misdemeanor charges in connection with an incident in which he and two other Mongols chased down and surrounded a vehicle occupied by a pair of police investigators who showed up outside his Marion County home.

The jury that convicted DeLoretto acquitted him of eight felonies that prosecutors initially charged him with.

A warrant was issued for DeLoretto's arrest last October, after Eugene police said they learned that he had violated his court-ordered probation by absconding to California, and by continuing to associate with other Mongols.

"He went to San Diego and became a member of the Mongols' San Diego chapter," Eugene police Detective Dave Burroughs said.

Burroughs said DeLoretto, 27, found work at a tattoo parlor in San Diego that was operated by Mongols members.

Burroughs said the business was shut down in October by federal investigators as part of a widespread investigation that included arrests of dozens of club members in six states on racketeering charges.

After the federal raids, police learned that DeLoretto was unable to find a job, Burroughs said. Eventually, DeLoretto returned to Oregon to face probation violation charges.

DeLoretto's mother, Sue DeLoretto-Rabe, of Turner, said she drove her son to jail on Tuesday.

"It was all his idea," DeLoretto-Rabe said. "He said, `Mom, I've got to put this behind me and move on with my life.'"

DeLoretto's legal woes in Lane County began last April, when he was arrested in Eugene after he followed two police officers for 90 miles along local roads and Interstate 5.

The chase began in Marion County, where police drove to his home while investigating an assault allegedly involving Mongols members.

Two other Mongols driving cars joined DeLoretto as he neared Eugene, and helped him surround an unmarked vehicle occupied by Burroughs and a federal agent.

DeLoretto and his two associates were arrested after the investigators called Eugene police for assistance.

Evidence in DeLoretto's trial indicated he thought the officers were members of a rival motorcycle gang.

DeLoretto was held in the Lane County Jail on eight felony charges for two months leading up to his trial.

But a jury ultimately decided he was guilty only of misdemeanor charges of reckless endangering, reckless driving and menacing.

Lane County sheriff's officials said DeLoretto's "risk assessment" score - part of a computerized system officials use to rate each inmate's potential risk to the community - tumbled following his conviction on the misdemeanors, which prompted jail officials to set him free.

That system may again affect DeLoretto, who was being held on $50,000 bail late Wednesday.

"There's nothing with his risk assessment score that's keeping him from getting out," Hooley said. "It may be later (Wednesday) or it may be two weeks from now, but he is eligible for release."

Hooley said Lane County jail officials typically release 14 inmates per day because of overcrowding.

Federal officials characterize the Mongols as a violent outlaw motorcycle gang. The group, which originated in Southern California about 40 years ago, expanded to include local chapters across the United States and in a handful of foreign countries.

Police said DeLoretto founded the group's Oregon chapter in 2007.

Michael Hoffman, a spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said that while officials believe October's raids took the Mongols organization "down to the bare bones and put them in disarray," the group remains active. Federal officials continue to monitor their activity, he said.

"The investigation is ongoing, and the Mongols are definitely receiving a lot of scrutiny right now," Hoffman said. "They're still an outlaw motorcycle gang."
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Title Annotation:City/Region; Justin DeLoretto, who is accused of violating his probation, turned himself in
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jan 8, 2009
Words:714
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