Posts tagged “Cozen Protocol

Spingola Files, the Local News & Stocking Stuffers

Over the course of the past month, I have appeared on two Milwaukee news broadcasts to address a couple issues that I feel passionate about: homicide investigations and the vast overreach of government surveillance.

On November visit to to Milwaukee’s CBS 58 news, I spoke about the issue of biometrics.

On December 2, reporter Myra Sanchick, of Fox News 6 in Milwaukee, conducted an interview with me regarding the death of Walter Ellis, Milwaukee’s infamous north side strangler.

In Best of the Spingola Files, Volume I & II, I discussed the complicated deaths associated with Ellis and other suspects in a four part series entitled “The Detectives in the Rye.”

Christmas/Hanukkah Stocking Stuffers

When shopping for the holidays, please consider giving the gift of books.  My latest, Best of the Spingola Files, Volume I & II, is now available in print and audiobook format.

Mitchell Nevin’s first novel, The Cozen Protocol, is also available in audiobook format.  For a limited time, the e-book version of the novel is available for just 99 cents.

Nevin’s latest novel, Psychic Reprieve, is currently in the process of being formatted into a screen play.  The e-book version of this outstanding book has been discounted to $3.99 for the holidays.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

The Wonderful World of Book Publishing

Whether it is teaching, criminal investigations, academic administration, or probing complex cases of financial fraud, publishing is admittedly one of the more difficult endeavors that I have undertaken.

In early December, my latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, went live at  To be successful in the book business, an author must engage in endless self-promotion—the goal of which is making a writer’s name into a brand synonymous with a particular theme.

Prior to taking the writing plunge, I rarely, if ever, felt the need to toot my own horn. Instead, I preferred to have my body of work speak for itself. In the book world, however, where writers delving into the genre of crime have thousands of competitors, authors are always on the lookout for methods to improve their marketing platforms.

One of the ways to do so is assisting other authors, many of whom are struggling to reach the next rung on the publishing ladder.

Last October, Arcadia Books released Wisconsin author Gavin Schmitt’s book Milwaukee Mafia.  I was privileged to have an opportunity to write the forward for this interesting pictorial of Brew City wise guys (see the below link):

On Thursday, a young woman from my publishing company requested that I take a look at an outline and the first three chapters of a manuscript for a yet-to-be-named novel by Mitchell Nevin.

In the past, I’ve spoken highly of Nevin’s first book, The Cozen Protocol, and its Milwaukee-based theme that explores the political fallout from an ongoing gang war and the Milwaukee Police Department’s subsequent response. In Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, I noted that Mitchell Nevin is a pseudonym for the actual author.  On this blog, many current or former Milwaukee coppers later chimed-in to speculate about the author’s actual identity.

I later discussed The Cozen Protocol and the mystery behind the author with WUWM’s Stephanie Lecci.

After reading the outline for Nevin’s new book—scheduled for release sometime this fall—I am willing to go out on a limb and predict that this novel will become an Amazon best seller.

Since I promised my publisher that I would keep the cards to Nevin’s latest work close to my vest, I will disclose only this much: that four of the main characters weaved into the plot are a Milwaukee area baseball pitcher; a Chicago PD sergeant gone, well, just kind of bad; a Hispanic cook, and a personable white collar criminal of Italian lineage.  The venue is America’s heartland, as portions of the novel occur in Milwaukee, Chicago, the Twin Cities, Platteville, Eau Claire, the Minnesota towns of Red Wing and Albert Lea, and Minot, North Dakota.

In other words, Nevin’s new novel probably won’t play well with the elites on east and west coasts, where the lives of those of us residing in fly over country are considered too mundane and culturally unfulfilling (or, as one of my long retired old-school sergeants used to say, “We’ve got a lot fewer goofs living here”).

If you’re a reader into the oddities of the criminal justice system, psychic phenomena, solid dialog, and good cop-bad cop, Nevin’s still unnamed book has all the markings of a great read.

So mark your calendars.

In the interim, I will keep plugging away at this writing and publishing thing.  Sometimes, as I explained in a recent Facebook post, writing a book is like banging your head against a wall—it feels good when you stop.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Update: More Info on Cell Phone Tracking, Police Authors

To view this article, please checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II available now at


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit


© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012

‘Flash Mob’ Offenders and Kid Gloves

Even a massive police presence was not enough to stop a group—estimated at over 100—from disrupting an otherwise peaceful event in Veterans Park on July 3. 

Some of those present in the park, just prior to the start of the city’s traditional fireworks display, claim a “flash mob,” consisting of scores of young people, entered Veterans Park and began vandalizing everything in their paths.

“There were so many of them,” one source said, “the police were helpless.” 

The park was full of families, many of them with young children, when the large-scale disturbance erupted.  

What’s more troubling is the mob seemed undeterred by a noticeable police presence. 

“There was literally a cop on every corner from North  Avenue all the way down to Summerfest,” reports another person.  “But even this didn’t stop the flash mob.”

A July 4, 2012, report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes that two people were arrested for fighting at the lakefront and there was at least one report of “a crowd of possibly 100 youth screaming and running in the area.”

The flash mob in Veterans Park is eerily reminiscent of prior disturbances during Juneteenth Day, outside State Fair, and along N. Water Street on St. Patrick’s Day.  

The thousands of dollars spent on security for these events might be worth it if city officials and representatives from the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office promised to hold every individual involved in such disturbances fully accountable. 

The lenient message sent by officials from the Milwaukee Police Department after the melee outside the Riverwest fireworks and raid on a nearby BP gas station a few years ago is that there are few if any consequences for anti-social behavior at pubic events. In the aftermath of the brazen BP gas station robbery–because that is what actually occurred–offenders were given ordiance violation citations.

During the “flash mob” incident at Veterans Park, the newspaper claims a police helicopter conducted surveillance of the crowd.  These hover craft are equipped with high-resolution video cameras. If the images of “flash mob” offenders were indeed captured by police, then Chief Flynn and his investigators need to spare no resources to identify and arrest those responsible.

Books for Summer Reading

With Summerfest 2012 soon-to-be an historical footnote, some of you might be on the lookout for a good book to read while traveling or spending some leisurely time at the beach.

If so, please checkout my new e-book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, available exclusively at, where I explore several cold case homicides, a handful of organized crimes figures, and an take a look at an ongoing war involving outlaw motorcycle gangs.

For readers with limited time, checkout The Cozen Protocol: a Shortcut Guide for Readers.  This 50-page book is akin to a Cliff Notes version of Mitchell Nevin’s classic crime novel that uses Milwaukee and its police department as its backdrop.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volume I, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit:


© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012

Movie Review: Clint Eastwood’s J. Edgar

Over the course of my career with the Milwaukee Police Department, I have served with a handful of rising stars.  Nonetheless, it is highly unusual for a person to receive a promotion to the rank of captain prior to their 35th birthday. 

In 1924, however, J. Edgar Hoover received an appointment to director of the Bureau of Investigation—the forefather of the FBI—at the tender age of 29. 

Clint Eastwood’s new movie, J. Edgar, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, documents Hoover’s ascendency from a bureaucratic legal aide to the most powerful law enforcement official in the history of the United States. Having delved into the history of the bureau prior to attending the FBI National Academy, the portrayal of Hoover as a power hungry eccentric is accurate.

Before the dawn of computers, high tech surveillance, and intelligence fusion centers, J. Edgar Hoover realized that information is power. Gathering and harnessing dirt on leaders and powerful politicians was one of the ways Hoover remained in-charge of the FBI for nearly 48 years.

During one such scene in J. Edgar, the U.S. attorney general, Robert Kennedy, summons Hoover to his office to discuss wiretaps. When vaguely threatened, the FBI director provides a transcript of the attorney general’s brother, President Kennedy, engaged in a tryst with an East German woman.   

Hoover’s secret files noted the activities of civil rights leaders, politicians, actors and union heads.

A few scenes in the movie, however, are historically twisted.

Hoover is given far too much credit for the development of fingerprints as a means of individual identification. William Herschel developed dactylography—the study of fingerprints—while in India in 1860.  Thirty-two years later, an Argentine investigator cleared the first homicide using a single ,bloody fingerprint to obtain a confession. It was Biologist Francis Galton, not researchers at the FBI, that categorized the five basic patterns of fingerprints in his 1895 book Fingerprint Directories. Hoover simply fought for and received authority from congress to classify and centrally house fingerprints obtained from various law enforcement agencies.

The historical and factual inaccuracies aside, the overall theme of J. Edgar, that absolute power corrupts absolutely, is very powerful and lends credence to the fears of our nation’s founding fathers that a strong, centralized federal government would slowly seize the civil liberties of the citizenry under the guise of security and protection.

For moviegoers on-the-lookout for lots of shoot ‘um-up action, J. Edgar will surely disappoint. But for those interested in getting a look into the mindset of the Washington power elites, this movie will prove insightful.

In my book, J. Edgar gets four stars. For those interested in a career in law enforcement, this movie serves as a testament to the relevance of critical thinking, especially at a time in our nation’s history when some members of the mainstream media seem too content reporting what those in authority say as gospel.

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New Amazon Service Lends Kindle Books at No Cost

I received word from my publisher late today that is offering a new service to Kindle reader owners.  For those subscribing to Amazon’s Prime service, thousands of books are now available for download at no additional cost. 

These books include the Milwaukee crime novel The Cozen Protocol and the e-magazine expose Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders, authored by yours truly. 

If your in the market for an outstanding and yet affordable Christmas gift, consider the Kindle Fire—Amazon’s computer tablet. I just witnessed a demonstration of this device, which was quite impressive (I really enjoyed the streaming video and movies, too).


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

 © Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Rants of a Sane Man, Part II

Bail Debacle 

Tucked inside the pending state budget is a proposal that would allow bail bondsmen to, once again, raise their ugly heads in Wisconsin. 

“Anytime you place profit-driven organizations in control of an individual’s liberty, corruption must be a major concern,” Chief Judge John Storck of the Sixth Judicial District told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The bail [bondsmen] system unfairly penalizes low-income defendants who can’t afford the un-refundable fee. It subverts the justice system, because defendants who can afford to buy their freedom – even those that may pose a relatively greater risk – are free to go at a much lower cost than under the current system.”

Judge Storck has it half right.

In states where bail bond is lawful, a private entity, typically called ‘a bondsman,’ posts a defendant’s bail.  In most instances, the defendant is required to pay the bondsmen ten percent of the total sum of the bail.  The bondsman, in turn, posts the entire amount with the court.  When the case is closed, the total amount of bail is then refunded to the bondsman, who keeps the ten percent posted by the defendant as a fee for services.

In Illinois, for example, former police sergeant Drew Peterson is awaiting trial for the alleged slaying of this third wife. Peterson is currently in custody, although his bail is set at $2 million. If Peterson provided $200,000 to a bail bondsman, the bondsman would then post the $2 million with the court.  Regardless of the case’s outcome, however, the $200,000 would forever belong to the bail bondsman. 

In the past, the powers-that-be in state government recognized that the bail bond operation fostered an atmosphere of corruption. Like other private corporations, bail bondsmen compete against each other.  Since most bail bondsmen require a ten percent non-refundable deposit from defendants, getting a leg-up on a competitor might necessitate paying a kick back to a police officer or sheriff’s deputy recommending a certain bondsman’s services. The kick back could come in the form of free tickets to sporting events, free booze, and/or discounted vacation packages. 

Moreover, in states employing a bail bond system, bail is generally much higher.  After all, like other citizens, individual bail bondsmen can contribute to political campaigns of judges. High bail set by individual judges means a larger, ten percent premium forfeited to bondsmen.  

Back in the old days, when the mob ran a protection racket in town, the term for such a fraud was ‘one hand washing the other.’

On Tap: South Side Gang War

In late May, a Milwaukee police officer fired a shot at an armed gunman near 10th and Orchard, an area with a long history of gang related trouble.  In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn held roll call for his officers on the street and told the media that trouble was brewing between three street gangs in the area.

The near south side to the east of South 20th Street is known as Latin King turf, although other gangs, the Unknown Kings and La Familia operated, in the recent past, just a few blocks to the west and north respectively, while the Mexcian Posse refuses to religate its operations to recognized geographical borders.  Another street gang infamous for dealing crack to local prostitutes, the Spanish Cobras, is attempting to sneak east of S. 19th Street.

Sources say the Latin Kings are making yet another come back, of sorts, after a second round of federal indictments.

Gangs seek to control an area to reap the rewards of the drug trade. The money is big, as are the risks, and there are no courts to arbitrate disputes in the shadowy world of the narcotics traffickers. Mitchell Nevin’s Milwaukee-based crime novel, The Cozen Protocol, is an accurate depiction of the drug underworld on the city’s south side, where two, fictional south side Latino gangs–Los Dominicanos and the Latin Maniacs–slug it out.

Like La Costa Nostra crime families, street gangs seem to have little problem filling their ranks no matter how many federal indictments come down. All law enforcement can do is make life as miserable as a possible for those profiting by destroying the social fabric of entire neighborhoods. 

This link to WTMJ radio indicates that a rash of recent violence could escalate with the summer weather:


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your organization is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files presentation The Psychology of Homicide. For more information, view the YouTube ad:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Rants of a Sane Man

Concealed Carry: Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee Makes the Right Call

The Wisconsin legislature’s Joint Finance Committee approved recommendations to make Wisconsin the 49th state to approve the concealed carry of firearms.  The law would require those lawfully seeking to carry firearms concealed to receive training and to obtain permits.  Individuals over the age of 21—not prohibited from possessing firearms by either state or federal law—are eligible for permits. The law is a solid compromise.  Retired or long-serving law enforcement officers and those honorably discharged from the military may obtain waviers from the training portion of the bill.

State Senator Lena Taylor continues to demagogue the issue.  Taylor told Channel 4 News that persons who have domestic violence on their records would have access to permits.  Since she is an attorney, one has to assume that Senator Taylor knows the difference between a rap sheet and a record.  A rap sheet is list of arrests.  A record is a notation of criminal convictions.  An arrest, as far as the criminal justice system is concerned, means relatively little.  Annually, about 50 percent of those arrested in Wisconsin are not convicted of crimes.  There is a big difference between probable cause to affect an arrest and the proof beyond a reasonable doubt required to obtain a criminal conviction.  Moreover, persons convicted of acts of domestic violence are prohibited by the federal law from possessing firearms. As such, they are not eligible for concealed carry permits in Wisconsin. 

Shorewood Police Catch Undue Flack for Textbook High-Risk Traffic Stop

Tonight, Channel 4 News also featured a segment pertaining to the traffic stop of Shorewood High School track coach Dominic Newman.

Shorewood officers stopped Newman early Sunday morning after receiving a call of a possible stolen auto. As law enforcement training throughout the state dictates, the officers conducted a high-risk traffic stop. 

I viewed the dash cam video displayed on the newscast.  The Shorewood police officers did a textbook job of executing the stop. 

After Newman was placed in handcuffs and secured in the rear of a squad car, Shorewood officers investigated further and realized they had the wrong party.

“You have not my, but Shorewood Police Department’s sincerest apology,” said an officer on the dash cam’s video. “We don’t mean to embarrass you, but we have to check things out.”

The Shorewood police deserve a pat on the back, not flack from the media, for their display of true professionalism. 

After all, if the car had been stolen, did Mr. Newman actually expect the police to simply walk-up to the driver’s side window and ask for his license?

Watch Channel Four’s story regarding the stop of Mr. Newman by visiting:

Could Weiner Get Whacked?  

Some residents of New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s district believe lewd and crude online antics are a personal matter that should not preclude him from holding public office.  An alleged phone-sex conversation Weiner had with a woman, however, could result in his political demise.

After the alleged conversation ended, the woman called Weiner back at the number left on her caller ID.  The woman received a voice mail message indicating that the telephone number was for outgoing calls from members of the United States Congress. 

It is this alleged call, no doubt, that will cause congressional ethics committee members to look long-and-hard at Weiner’s use of government owned property for personal gratification.

Milwaukee-Based Crime Novel Surges at

Mitchell Nevin’s Milwaukee-based crime mystery, The Cozen Protocol, surged to #2 this week on’s list of criminal procedure books, reports a news release from the book’s publisher.

In mid-February, retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis posted his book review of The Cozen Protocol here at the Spingola Files (see the below link):

I have tipped-off more than a few media outlets about the this well researched novel.  With a few exceptions, it appears local news departments are content covering stories of dirty restaurants and bad, seasonable weather to explore a work some law enforcement veterans see as outstanding.  

Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide Ad Now Posted @ YouTube

Over the course of the past several months, I have traveled to various locales to present the Psychology of Homicide, a Spingola Files’ feature highlighting a few high profile investigations.

A new ad for this interesting event is now up-and-running at YouTube:


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your organization is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files presentation The Psychology of Homicide.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Retired MPD Captain Reviews Milwaukee-Based Crime Novel

As promised, the Spingola Files (SF) is proud to present retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis’ review of The Cozen Protocol, a 2010 Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award nominee.  



Author:    Mitchell Nevin

Setting:    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Genre:      Crime & Corruption

The Cozen Protocol is a fictional book that tells how corruption and poor leadership within a police organization touches the lives of a number of people who are, or have been, associated with that organization.  Mitchell Nevin uses the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Police Department as his backdrop and blends elements of real incidents with fiction.  The characters range from the Department’s police chief to members of the police department’s Professional Performance Division (previously known as the Internal Affairs Division) to biker and Spanish gang members.  Each chapter is another piece of a very interesting puzzle that, when complete, will neatly tie up any loose ends for the reader.

 Without going into too much detail, the danger of undercover work (think Donnie Brasco, the movie about FBI Special Agent Joe Pistone as portrayed by Johnny Depp, who became “like them” to his wife and even to himself); the emphasis on getting guns off the street to reduce violent crime and the methods employed, which have officers walking a very fine line; and an overzealous attempt on the part of some members of the department to insure “integrity,” are brought to light in this book and the results are damaging to overall morale as one might expect.  This will all be familiar to those who lived through these experiences and, in some cases, had their careers altered permanently.  I’m talking about very good officers who were acting with the best of intentions in an almost “Mission Impossible” environment.    

 Those who were members of the Milwaukee Police Department over the past 25 to 35 years will especially enjoy the challenge of trying to link the traits of the characters in the book to people they encountered throughout their own careers and will also remember many of the real life incidents that are blended into the story.  Mitchell Nevin did an absolutely fantastic job of research in his preparation for writing this book, as he captures the frustrations of the rank-and-file members of the Department, who are working under internal conditions that not only present many obstacles but are dangerous to their professional and personal lives.

 Another part of the story line that the reader will find fascinating is the interaction between several of the law enforcement officer characters and a member of the media and defense attorney.  Some may find themselves saying that part of the book is definitely fiction, but others may have their own experiences, which affirm the validity of that part of the story.  Either way, it is one more piece of the puzzle that makes this book hard to put down.

The Cozen Protocol  also clearly identifies how inept leadership can influence the day-to-day environment of the working copper and detective; how important trust is in a law enforcement organization; and how difficult the job can be without trust.  Personal ambition and big egos are usually recipes for disaster, as Mitchell Nevin illustrates.

One main character stood out for me as I was reading the book.  Detective Gavin Fitzgerald was a street smart, steady, level headed investigator who had a combination of real street experience, wisdom and a dedication to duty.  He was well respected by his peers and his immediate supervisor and knew how to work around the obstacles presented by management.   Gavin Fitzgerald struck me as a law enforcement officer who wasn’t consumed with himself or where he could get on the job.  He also struck me as one who didn’t make excuses and who saw the job as a calling.  The last page of the last chapter of the book sealed that for me.

 There are lessons to be learned even from a fictional book such as this.  Police chiefs need to understand that quality of supervision matters.  Supervisors need to understand that with authority comes responsibility – and that includes making decisions.  Good coppers and detectives need to understand their obligations to take promotional exams with an eye toward becoming the kind of supervisors and leaders they themselves want to see in the organization.   Day-to-day operations need to be critiqued with an eye toward improvement.  For example, when a special unit is deployed to fight street gang activity it needs to work collectively as a team of uniformed and plainclothes officers – not individually – and the teams must be led by capable supervisors who have a demonstrated work history and who work with them.   The teams are best deployed on a district-by-district basis rather than from some central “downtown” location.  This allows for greater control; much better cooperation and intelligence from the good people of the neighborhoods, which builds “trust and confidence” and leads to a more surgical operation and less collateral damage; and better accountability and response to problems.  To be sure, a “central” intelligence gathering unit is necessary to coordinate certain investigations and link criminal operations that transcend district boundaries, however the street level operations are much more effective and efficient if performed by selected uniformed officers and detectives who work as a team and patrol as “a pack” out of the district stations.   

The wise officer/detective/supervisor and even a police chief will take something from this book and apply it to his/her operational/administrative style and hopefully make the work environment a little bit better for those people who are out there fighting crime.

 As for The Cozen Protocol, I highly recommend this book and am sure the reader will enjoy it as much as I did.  It wouldn’t surprise me if someone makes it into a television movie on the order of Joseph Wambaugh’s The Choir Boys or The New Centurions.


Glenn D. Frankovis served with the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) from 1975 to 2004.  During his career, he served on the MPD’s Tactical Enforcement Unit and later commanded Districts Five and Three on Milwaukee’s north side.

Editor’s note: Since SF has received serveral inquries, The Cozen Protocol is an e-book available exclusively at  Readers can download the novel to a PC, Kindle, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.  The software to download Kindle books to a PC is free.  To obtain the software, visit the “Free e-books to PC software” link on the right side of this Web page.

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Jacking-Up “Milwaukee Jack”

Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Justice in Richmond, Virginia unsealed the indictments of 23 members of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club.  The charges alleged include acts of kidnapping, attempt murder, drug dealing, assault, and illegal gambling. One of the Outlaws under indictment is Jack Rosga, also known as “Milwaukee Jack,” the purported national leader of the Outlaws MC. 

The Outlaws consider themselves a motorcycle club, although many within law enforcement circles believe—since they sport colors, have bylaws, and maintain a hierarchy—this group is an organized crime outfit that meets the federal definition of a criminal enterprise. In the late 1990s, the federal government indicted and later obtained convictions of several members from the Outlaws Wisconsin chapters. The charges stemmed, in part, from at least three homicides.

The outlaw motorcycle idiom is a derivative of a July 4, 1947 Gypsy Tour motorcycle event held in Hollister, California.  Over 4,000 motorcycle enthusiasts, as well as a dozen motorcycle clubs, including the Booze Fighters, the Top Hatters, and the Pissed of Bastards of Bloomington, packed the Bolado racetrack near the city’s outskirts.

It was events in the town’s center, however, that forever etched the surly image of bad boy bikers in the minds of mainstream society.

Sponsored by the American Motorcycle Association (AMA), the number of bikers in attendance — almost the equivalent of Hollister’s population at the time — overwhelmed authorities. Over the July 4 weekend, fights, motorcycle accidents, and other acts of drunken hooliganism resulted in nearly 50 arrests and 60 injuries.  Soon, photos of intoxicated bikers filled newspapers and appeared in Life Magazine.

In response to the media attention, the secretary of the AMA, Lin Kuchler, said, “The disreputable cyclists were possibly one percent of the total number of motorcyclists, only one percent are hoodlums and troublemakers.”  Outlaw bikers quickly seized on the label and, to this day, proudly don “1%” patches and tattoos. 

The Outlaws MC is just one of a handful of large one-percent motorcycle clubs that dominate the global biker landscape. The Banditos, the Pagens, the Mongols and, of course, the Hells Angels (HAs)—the largest one-percent club in the world—round out these groups.  The Hells Angels are a club indigenous to California spun-off from the Pissed-off Bastards of Bloomington, an MC that was present during the Hollister fiasco.

In the past, Outlaws MC leaders from Wisconsin have maintained their prominence within their national organization due to the unwillingness of the Hells Angels to establish a presence in the badger state. The HAs have chapters in Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan — forming a virtual ring around Wisconsin.

In 2003, two residents of Madison became patch holders of the Rockford chapter of the Hells Angels. Within the law enforcement community, word spread that the HAs planned to open a Wisconsin chapter.  The Outlaws quickly established a Madison chapter. Before long, troubles between the Outlaws and the Hells Angels drew-in members of a non-one percent motorcycle club, the Madison based Capitol City (CC) Riders. When a member of the Hells Angels attempted to crash a party the CC Riders’ enforcer stabbed him.  Soon, HA members from Las Vegas and Minnesota descended on Madison. The trouble ended about a year later when the federal government indicted Hells Angels’ member Christopher Wilson on firearms charges. In the interim, prosecutors convicted a Hells Angels’ member of beating a CC Rider at a Madison tavern in an apparent retaliation for the earlier stabbing.

For readers interested in learning more about the biker subculture, checkout the Cozen Protocol (see the link on the right side of this page). Author Mitchell Nevin’s depiction of the fictional leader of the one-percent motorcycle club Nero’s Igniters is very enlightening, even though it serves as a backdrop for the outstanding e-book’s overall plot (for the necessary software to read Amazon Kindle books on your PC, click the link on the right of this page entitled “Free e-books to PC Download”).

From the looks of the media coverage concerning the indictment of “Milwaukee Jack” and his Outlaws colleagues, it is clear that several reporters need to pick-up Nevin’s book and bone-up on the biker subculture as well as street gangs in general.


Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010

To Death Do Us Part?

To read this article, purchase The Best of the Spingola Files, coming to’s Kindle store in January 2012.

Steven Spingola is a retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler.

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010