SAN DIEGO - The former president of the San Diego Chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club spoke exclusively with 10News on Friday following his sentencing.
During a jailhouse interview, Stephen Sanders claimed he is not guilty of the crimes he was convicted of and is simply the target of federal agents obsessed with convicting members of the motorcycle club.
"I'm in here for multiple cases," said Sanders. "I'm in here for armed robbery with a gang enhancement. I'm in here for assault. I'm in here for … man, there are so many cases."
Cases and crimes over a period of six years that federal officials say include felonies such as solicitation of murder, kidnapping and torture landed the 44-year-old 25 years behind bars.
Sanders said the District Attorney's Office and drug enforcement agents focused on him and other members of the club because they wanted to make an arrest.
"They try to label us as a gang … we deny that," he said. "We're incorporated as a corporation … and pay federal and state taxes to the United States and we adamantly deny we're a gang."
Sanders told 10News his problems began in 2006. He said he and his family were constantly harassed by law enforcement and evidence against him was tampered with.
"Yeah, I was definitely targeted by the law enforcement … these law enforcement officers are just flat out obsessed with trying to put another Hells Angel in jail," Sanders said. "The District Attorney's Office is biased against us, and they go along with it."
He also alleges drug enforcement agents altered evidence and raided his family home and businesses in San Diego over a four-year period. In one case, he claims a fellow inmate and convicted murderer turned informant secretly recorded their conversations.
"They didn't get what they wanted any of the three days … and they didn't come to arrest me … they waited a few days and they edited and took portions of the conversations from the first, the second and third recording to create an unfavorable conversation for me," Sanders said. "The audio recordings were definitely damaging to me … to my defense and once they were manipulated, and they had the conversations the way they wanted them … that's what ultimately convicted me."
District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis is pleased with the conviction saying, "In recent years, this defendant has engaged in a series of violent crimes against the citizens of San Diego."
Sanders addressed the court during his sentencing saying he was pressured into entering a guilty plea because he was faced with a lengthy sentence. During his hearing, he tried to withdraw that plea, but the judge denied it.