KENNEWICK — A Walla Walla prison guard and another Milton-Freewater resident are charged with savagely beating a Georgia man to rise in the ranks of an outlaw motorcycle gang.
Dustin L. Wendelin, 40, and Charles C. Montgomery, 29, were arrested last week following a months-long investigation by law enforcement officers in Georgia, Washington and Oregon, along with several federal agencies.
Court documents show the two hold leadership positions in a local chapter of The Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, also known as The Pagans.
The club — formed in 1957 in Maryland — is viewed as an outlaw biker gang by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and reportedly has a long history of violent crime and drug trafficking.
Wendelin, a corrections officer at Washington State Penitentiary, was taken into custody at 6 a.m. Sept. 9 while on the job.
He lives in Milton-Freewater, just over the border in Oregon, but previously lived in Richland.
Montgomery was arrested a few hours later at his Umatilla County home.
Wendelin has worked as a corrections officer at the Walla Walla prison since January 2011.
He currently is on unpaid leave, a spokeswoman with the Washington state Department of Corrections told the Tri-City Herald on Tuesday.
Wendelin is being held in the Walla Walla County jail without bail, while Montgomery is in the Umatilla County jail. Both are awaiting extradition to Griffin, Georgia. Each is facing five felonies.
A Spalding County Superior Court grand jury returned indictments against the two on Aug. 12.
The charges are: aggravated battery, aggravated assault and three counts for violation of the Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
They are scheduled for arraignment Oct. 5, with a trial already set for Jan. 17.
The documents give few details into what allegedly happened on May 1 in the county south of Atlanta.
It’s not known why the Pacific Northwesterners were in the Southeast.
Documents accuse Wendelin and Montgomery of maliciously harming Dean Ryan by punching him in the head and face several times with their fists. He suffered a skull fracture with bleeding on the brain.
Wendelin and Montgomery, as members of The Pagans, participated in criminal gang activity by attacking and beating the man “with the intent to obtain, earn, maintain and increase (their) status in said gang,” according to the indictments.
A press release last week from the Walla Walla County Sheriff’s Office said “intelligence generated from traffic stops” in Walla Walla County led to the investigations of Wendelin and Montgomery.
The Pagans “frequently participate in violent crime, trafficking and racketeering. In the last several months, Pagan’s members nationwide have allegedly participated in bombings, shootings, felonious assaults, and homicides,” the release said.
Sheriff Mark Crider in Walla Walla County said other charges are possible as the investigation continues.