Russel Lyles Jr., a longtime member of the Sonoma Hells Angels, has been sentenced to five years in federal prison after pleading guilty to involvement in a racketeering conspiracy and an assault, according to court records. Lyles pleaded guilty to a racketeering offense in November, although he disputes the prosecution’s assessment of the crimes he committed.
Lyles’ lawyer submitted a 14-page court document objecting to a pre-sentencing report, denying Lyles’ involvement in racketeering crimes and providing clarification on his motivation for various assaults. The document states that Lyles used his fists to punish individuals for their behavior or to “toughen them up.”
Lyles also expressed his disapproval when he learned about former Sonoma chapter president Ray Foakes’ arrest for sexually assaulting a former member’s wife. Although Lyles considered issuing a public statement condemning the assault, he ultimately decided against it.
While Lyles pleaded guilty, six other Hells Angels members opted for jury trials. Five of them were convicted of crimes including multiple assaults, robberies, extortion plots, and the murder of a former Hells Angel who had angered high-ranking members. One member was acquitted of witness intimidation.
Lyles’ sentence of 63 months is longer than what the defense requested but shorter than what prosecutors sought. Prosecutors allege that Lyles was involved in multiple assaults and extortion plots, including the beating of a Ghost Warriors Motorcycle Club member who had angered the Hells Angels.
This prosecution of the Hells Angels, which began in 2017 and involved members from Sonoma, Fresno, and Boston chapters, has resulted in the longest sentence handed down so far. However, several more members, including four convicted of murder, are expected to receive life or decades in federal prison. Earlier this year, a judge denied a motion for a new trial by three of them.