Back on December 12, 2013, I was contacted by Melissa Summerson who was terminated from her job with the City of Kingman, Arizona after it was disclosed that her husband William was a member of a local motorcycle club.
Melissa explained that the city fired her because of concerns about her husband's club and supposed affiliation with another Arizona club that is listed as a criminal Outlaw Motorcycle Gang (OMG). Because of this supposed affiliation, her husband's club is now also listed as an OMG based on meeting certain criterion under the Arizona definition of OMG's. Melissa had a stellar work record and was never accused of any wrongdoing. Her termination was based on a report provided to the city by H. Steve Trethewy, Arizona Department of Public Safety.
Trethewy provided a 25 page report to the city explaining how outlaw motorcycle gangs try to infiltrate certain government agencies for the purpose of gathering sensitive information which could benefit the gang, including the names and addresses of employees like law enforcement personnel. Actually, obtaining such information and unlawfully disclosing it to outside interests is a concern, but so is the abandonment of the concept that one is innocent until proven guilty. Ms. Summerson was never accused of anything more than being married to a motorcycle club member whose club was suspected as being a criminal street gang.
The club in question is a one piece patch, family style motorcycle club and in the Trethewy report, only three references to the club are given in the entire report. One dealt with a former president of the club, who was not in office when Mr. Summerson was a member. Another instance dealt with a fight in a bar involving two members of the club. Neither was convicted of any crime in that fight. The last mention of the club dealt with some members who were seen wearing "support" patches for a 1% club. Again, this was a very limited situation and in and of itself is not illegal nor indicates any wrongdoing on the part of the owners of the patch. Yet, the Trethewy report paints a different picture, indicating that those wearing support gear are minions of the dominant club, waiting for orders to commit crimes and mayhem. Nothing could be further from the truth, but truth didn't seem to be a part of the case against Ms. Summerson.
I was asked by the Summerson's attorney to submit a report answering some of the claims in the Trethewy report, which I did. I was also asked to consider being an "expert" witness in the case of a trial. Because I'm not from Arizona, I suggested a local rider be considered to act as their witness. I contacted a friend who happens to be the Chairman of the Arizona Confederation of Clubs (the AZCOF was also mentioned in the Trethewy report) and "Still Ray" agreed to help out. I also learned that he submitted an excellent report to the Summerson's attorney, refuting some of the claims in the city's report.
The news I was waiting for came today. The City of Kingman decided to make a settlement offer to avoid a costly trial. I was later informed by Melissa Summerson that she accepted the offer which was an "acceptance of judgement" and not a settlement. Whichever it was, the city decided to offer $50,000 to close this case. It could have cost the city, read that taxpayers, much more if it lost in court. I hope this serves as an example to other city administrations that simply belonging to a motorcycle club is not illegal and certainly being married to a club member is not illegal. This whole fiasco might have been prevented had the City of Kingman talked to Ms. Summerson in an attempt to find a resolution rather than unjustly terminating her.