Everyday as I stand in the court room and defend against this kind of pathology I search for a way to mitigate my clients’ horrific choices. The challenge is to find a kernel of good, to convey to the judge and the jury that something about them is worth salvaging because our knee-jerk reaction is to warehouse them in cells or exterminate them like rats. My real life experiences have fueled my desire to write true crime because I don’t want refuge or respite from the real stories or the real macabre. I want to understand. Writing is a kind of catharsis for me, a way to process savage behavior with a goal toward inspiring change in the social institutions—schools, families, prisons—who house and guide these sad individuals.
Their goal was to cripple the Hells Angels, chill the club’s criminal exploits and enlighten the public about the gang’s activities. In the end few of the criminal charges against the bikers held and the ATF operatives were rewarded with fear of reprisal from the Hells Angels without government protection or, sadly at times, even government interest. But, the operatives’ efforts were not entirely in vain, the Hells’ Angels public persona was tarnished and the club’s reign as Lord of the flies has diminished. But what may have died as a news story lives on in Running with the Devil. With both of their secret lives exposed—the operatives’ sacrifice and bravery and the gang’s savagery and pathology—the public cannot forget what happened or why it happened. That’s the real goal for me in writing true crime, to preserve a moment in time and to hopefully learn from the experience so that we can effect change through information and knowledge.
Running with the Devil, The True Story of the ATF’s Infiltration of the Arizona Hells Angels. ISBN:978-1-59228-976-9