Mongols Motorcycle Club member lost Oregon Youth Authority internship after agency learned of his club ties

A George Fox University graduate student, required to complete an internship at a social service agency to obtain a master's degree in social work, started a year ago at the Oregon Youth Authority.

Justin DeLoretto was excited to get the internship, hoped to use what he learned to work with gang-affected youth in the criminal justice system when he completed his studies.

justindeloretto.jpgJustin DeLoretto

But four months later, the state agency ended his internship after learning he was a member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club.

Now the student has filed a federal lawsuit against Oregon Youth Authority, claiming it violated his constitutional rights of free speech and due process.

"Justin's internship was terminated solely because of his Mongols Motorcycle Club membership,'' wrote attorney Jim L. Guse in the suit filed in U.S. District Court in Eugene.

DeLoretto, 35, is seeking undetermined monetary damages for the loss of the internship and punitive damages.

Oregon Youth Authority spokesman Benjamin Chambers said he couldn't comment about the details of DeLoretto's case. The authority doesn't have any policies that would restrict a gang member from employment, and has had youth offenders later return and work with children in custody, Chambers said.

"It's not out of the question,'' Chambers said.

But since the Oregon Youth Authority's mission is to provide opportunities for youth offenders to change and reform, "we don't want to employ people who are going to stand in the way of reformation,'' he added.

Oregon Youth Authority does criminal background checks on interns and job applicants but that doesn't necessarily turn up gang involvement, he said.

"If they acknowledge they're currently involved, that's going to raise red flags,'' Chambers said.

The agency did do a criminal background check on DeLoretto and he passed it, according to his lawyers.

It would have turned up DeLoretto's prior arrests. A Google search also would have revealed that police and federal agents have described him as a founder of the Mongols Motorcycle Club's Oregon chapters. The Mongols Motorcycle Club is considered one of the nation's most violent biker gangs.

The suit alleges that DeLoretto was offered an unpaid internship on April 8 after his application and background check were approved. He began training and orientation on Aug. 8 to work with children with gang ties at MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility.

On Aug. 9, the youth authority's Assistant Director Clint McClellan asked him if he was a member of the motorcycle club and DeLoretto confirmed he was, the suit said.  That night, McClellan told DeLoretto he had to end his internship due to his affiliation with the motorcycle club.

McClellan questioned DeLoretto after receiving complaints from five law enforcement officials about DeLoretto's ties to the club, according to the suit.

"At no time was Justin afforded any opportunity or procedure to contest the termination of his internship,'' the suit says. "Termination of employment for exercising freedom of speech, expression and association violates the First Amendment's protection from government intrusion on these guaranteed constitutional rights.''

In 2008, DeLoretto was arrested in Lane County, accused of trying to run a federal U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agent and a Eugene police detective off the road during a rush-hour confrontation. The two had driven to DeLoretto's Turner home as part of a separate assault investigation.

DeLoretto was convicted of five misdemeanor charges - two counts each of recklessly endangering another person and menacing and one count of reckless driving - but acquitted of eight felonies. 

Although he was sentenced to one year in custody, he was released a day after the sentencing, found to be a low-risk offender.

Evidence in DeLoretto's trial showed he followed the investigators 90 miles - including along I-5 - after they had turned into the driveway of his rural Turner home. Eugene police Detective Dave Burroughs and federal ATF Special Agent James Packard were investigating an assault at a Eugene bar that allegedly involved club members.

DeLoretto, during trial, testified that he did not know the men he had followed were law enforcement. DeLoretto followed their unmarked SUV while summoning two associates who joined him to box-in the vehicle.

DeLoretto also has prior third-degree and fourth-degree assault convictions in Lane County.

Since then, DeLoretto obtained his bachelor's degree in social and behavioral studies from George Fox University, said Seattle attorney Mike Myers, another lawyer working on his federal lawsuit. In 2015, he enrolled in the social work graduate program at George Fox.

DeLoretto currently is an intern with the Marion County branch of the Oregon Department of Human Services, working in the Child Welfare Division's teen unit, Myers said.

Myers declined any comment about DeLoretto's continued involvement in the Monguls Motorcycle Club.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet
Country: 
State: 
News Article written by: 
Maxine Bernstein
Source of News article: 
oregonlive.com




Related Articles


Elk Hunt   Fly Fishing Guide
  Silver Stock
  Biker News

Disclaimer: The opinions in this article are solely those of the writer, and may not reflect the beliefs of anyone at the Biker News Network/Outlaw Biker World. This site may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to advance understanding of political, human rights, economic, democracy, and social justice issues, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. If you believe that your copyrighted work has been copied in a way that constitutes copyright infringement and is accessible on this site or through this service, you may notify our copyright agent, as set forth in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA). For your complaint to be valid under the DMCA, it must meet certain criteria, and you must Click Here to contact acting agent.