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Motorcycle gang member involved in Nugget shooting takes plea deal, is expected to testify against two others

Saturday, 3 March 2012


One of the motorcycle gang members involved in the deadly shooting at a Sparks casino during Street Vibrations pleaded guilty on Friday in a plea deal, a prosecutor said. Gary Rudnick, 45, was facing first-degree murder charges for allegedly inciting a fight between the Vagos motorcycle gang and a rival Hells Angeles chapter on Sept. 23, which left 51-year-old San Jose president Jeffery Pettigrew dead. But he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit murder and will testify at the October murder trial of his fellow gang member, said Chief Deputy District Attorney Karl Hall. “I’m happy with that,” Hall said after Rudnick entered his plea before Washoe District Judge Connie Steinheimer. She also reduced his bail from $300,000 to $100,000, according to the court. “He’s expected to testify at trial,” Hall said of Rudnick. Rudnick faces a maximum of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced in December, Hall said. Fellow Vagos member Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez of San Francisco, charged with gunning down Pettigrew on a crowded dance floor at John Ascuaga’s Nugget, has pleaded not guilty to a list of charges, including murder, carrying a concealed weapon and discharging a weapon in a casino, Hall said. His trial is set for Oct. 29. His bail was set for $2 million. Hells Angel member, Cesar Villagrana of Gilroy, Calif., also has pleaded guilty charges ranging from second-degree murder to carrying a concealed weapon. He was charged for allegedly accepting a challenge to fight and firing shots when the violence started on the dance floor. The Nugget was evacuated late on Sept. 23 after shots were fired and a fight broke out on the dance floor at Trader Dick’s. Besides Pettigrew’s fatal injuries, two others were injured. Two members of the Vagos motorcycle club suffered leg and abdomen injuries. According to police reports, the battle between the Vagos and Hells Angels started in the Oyster Bar at the Nugget when Rudnick instigated a fight with Pettigrew. Pettigrew reportedly punched Rudnick in the face, and the gun battle ensued, records show. The indictment against the men says Rudnick, with the Vagos, challenged the Hells Angeles to a fight and Pettigrew and Villagrana accepted. Since all of the men conspired to fight and their argument resulted in fatal gunfire, all of the men were charged as co-defendants. Gonzalez was charged with open murder with a deadly weapon because he fired the fatal shot. Villagrana was charged with second-degree murder, two counts of felony battery with a deadly weapon for shooting two Vagos members, which left them with non-life-threatening injuries.


A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty

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