A former leader of the San Diego Chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club has been sentenced to more than two decades in prison for multiple felonies including kidnapping, assault with force, robbery and solicitation of murder.
On Friday, District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis announced that Stephen Sanders, 44, would spend the next 25 years in state prison.
Among his crimes, Sanders – former president of the San Diego Chapter of the Hells Angels -- admitted he kidnapped two people for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
Over the last few months, the DA’s office has prosecuted many cases involving Sanders including a July 2012 conviction for robbery and assault.
In March 2012 Sanders was convicted for solicitation to commit murder. Prosecutors say he tried to have witnesses and investigators killed in connection with a pending kidnapping and torture case against him.
In April, he pleaded guilty to charges of assault with a deadly weapon linked to a violent attack on partygoers in Pacific Beach. In June, Sanders pleaded guilty to felony kidnapping and committing crimes for the benefit of a criminal street gang.
At his sentencing on Thursday, Sanders addressed the court and said he felt pressured to enter a guilty plea because he faced a lengthy sentence if convicted at trial.
Despite an admission on the record, Sanders maintains that he never admitted the Hells Angels were a criminal street gang. Sanders’ attorney also tried to withdraw the defendant’s guilty plea, claiming there was new witness testimony, but the sentencing judge denied the motion.
The DA’s office and the Drug Enforcement Administration worked together on Sanders’ case.
Dumanis says Sanders’ sentencing was an important victory for law enforcement.
“In recent years, this defendant has engaged in a series of violent crimes against the citizens of San Diego,” said Dumanis. “During the course of being prosecuted in a kidnapping and mayhem case, he conspired to murder those who were key parts of the case against him. Our office dismantled his plans to have witnesses and law enforcement officers killed, holding him accountable for his actions.”