5 prominent Bandidos in plea deal

George Wegers, the national president of the Bandidos motorcycle gang, and four of its prominent members have reached plea agreements on racketeering and kidnapping charges.

Wegers of Whatcom County was one of 32 people in Washington, Montana and South Dakota who were indicted in U.S. District Court in Seattle last year as federal officials raided the Bellingham-based gang, accusing its members of conspiracy to commit murder, witness tampering, violent crime in aid of racketeering, and drug and weapons offenses. Wegers agreed last week to plead guilty to conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act for his role in tampering with witnesses and trafficking stolen motorcycles and stolen vehicles, The Bellingham Herald reported.

Under the agreement, prosecutors plan to recommend a sentence of no more than two years in prison. After he's released, Wegers would have to leave Whatcom County and serve three years of supervised release. Two other members arrested in the sweep agreed last week to plead guilty to RICO conspiracy.

Glenn Merritt, the Bellingham chapter president, signed a plea agreement May 1 for distributing methamphetamine and trafficking motorcycle parts.

Britt Anderson, a member of the Bellingham and Whatcom County chapters, signed an agreement May 3 for threatening someone he believed to be a federal informant, according to court documents.

Merritt's sentence would be four to six years in prison, and Anderson's sentence would be up to three years, according to court documents. Wegers, Merritt and Anderson could have faced up to 20 years in prison. The two other recent agreements are from Bernard Ortman, president of the Missoula, Mont., chapter, and Dale Granmo, a Missoula chapter member. Both agreed late last month to plead guilty to conspiracy to kidnap.

All five are scheduled to be sentenced this summer.