Recordings tell of beating customers

Authorities played recorded telephone calls in federal court in Fresno on Monday in which a man they identified as Robert C. Holloway III talked about beating up customers who didn't pay debts owed for motorcycles bought from his Denair shop.

In another conversation, the man authorities say is Holloway speaks about the importance of honoring one's word and upholding a "gentleman's agreement." He also speaks of being lenient with people who owed money, as long as they communicated with him about repaying their debt.

Prosecutors argue that Holloway of Turlock and two other defendants should not be released pending trial. Magistrate Judge Gary S. Austin is expected to rule today about whether two of them will be released.

Authorities say Holloway and Brent F. Holloway, his son, ran a criminal enterprise out of Road Dog Cycle in Denair. Brent Holloway lives in Modesto.

A grand jury indicted Holloway, his son and 11 others in mid-July on charges relating to suspected illegal operations at the Stanislaus County motorcycle shop going back to 1997.

One of the 13 remains at-large. Four, including Stanislaus County sheriff's Capt. Raul DeLeon, were released on their own recognizance last week. A fifth defendant, Reynaldo W. Sotelo, was released on bond and a sixth, Alfredo F. Rincon, was scheduled to be released once his family arranged a bond.

Attorneys are debating whether Holloway, his son and Michael J. Orozco will be released before trial. The three men appeared Monday afternoon in U.S. District Court.

In a telephone recording prosecutors played, a Road Dog employee described an alleged beating that took place in the shipping bay at the shop.

"One of the guys came through the door. I heard the service doors go down. That happens once in a while when they have to teach a customer a lesson," she said of certain situations when customers failed to pay bills. "I heard yelling and screaming and things hitting the wall and stuff, and I thought it was somebody that they were [beating up]."

Prosecutors played conversations they hoped would demonstrate how Robert Holloway allegedly conducted business at Road Dog and how he would let members of certain motorcycle clubs have bikes from his shop even if they didn't have money on hand to pay for them.

Defendant Joseph S. Tyler, a former California Highway Patrol officer in Merced, pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, which allege that he helped operate a chop shop at Road Dog.

Ray Heffington of Chowchilla pleaded not guilty and was ordered to be held in custody. Authorities said Heffington turned himself in Wednesday, a day after the other Road Dog defendants were arrested. Prosecutors said he is a "self-proclaimed member of the Hells Angels."