FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – A former president of the Fresno chapter of the California motorcycle club Hells Angels is allegedly involved in arranging an illegal cremation of four other members, according to a sentencing memorandum filed to the San Francisco division of the U.S. District Court first reported by Mercury News.
Merl Hefferman, 54, was set to be sentenced for aiding the cremation of a man who was murdered in 2014, but it was reported that prosecutors had alleged there were a total of four illegal cremations reported to the FBI.
According to Mercury News, federal authorities also believe they know the identities of all the victims. Mercury News stated that prosecutors said former Hells Angels members, Robbie Huff, Arthur Carasis and Juan Guevara were illegally cremated by Hefferman.
Hefferman’s attorney, James Bustamante, denied that his client had anything to do with the illegal cremations – except the one he already pleaded guilty to. Hefferman pleaded guilty to obstructing justice by arranging the cremation of Livermore resident Joel Silva.
Silva was shot in the back of the head inside the club’s Fresno headquarters in 2014.
In a sentencing memo, Bustamante said the prosecution failed to mention in their court filings that the funeral home owner also gave an interview and called the prosecution’s allegations a last-ditch effort.
According to Mercury News, court records showed informants telling the FBI for years that there were other dead bodies that were met with the same fate as Silva – and allegedly referring to it as the “pizza oven.”
Prosecutors say phone records obtained by the FBI found that Hefferman contacted the funeral home owner in July 2014, Feb. 2015 and July 2016.
Mercury News reported that details of other cremations were kept from the jury – and the U.S. District judge on the case ruled repeatedly against prosecutors’ attempts to introduce evidence of other murders and suggestions that were multiple body disposals.
In the article, it states that during the trial Assistant U.S. Assistant Attorney Kevin Barry revisited the issue several times during the trial to allow multiple testimonies of multiple bodies being illegally cremated in Fresno – but no specific details were ever brought in.
Hefferman’s sentencing is scheduled for Thursday.