COVID data a factor in weighing Massachusetts Outlaws MC leader’s release, judge says

Bruce “Monster” Sartwell

Upcoming coronavirus data from a Plymouth lockup will play a role in the potential release of a local Outlaws Motorcycle Club leader accused of building his own assault rifle, a federal judge said Wednesday.

Bruce Sartwell, the president of the Outlaws’ East Bridgewater and Brockton chapters, was arrested last year on a firearms charge after Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents allegedly found a “ghost gun,” or untraceable AR-15-style rifle, in his garage.

Currently locked up in a Plymouth detention center, Sartwell is asking to be released to a friend’s home because his seasonal allergies could put him at a heightened health risk.

“I don’t believe Mr. Sartwell is a danger, I never have,” said Oscar Cruz, Sartwell’s public defender, in a remote hearing in U.S. District Court.

Cruz suggested Sartwell live with a friend who is a Boston firefighter and veteran of the Marine Corps.

“This is a man who is able to use electronic means to, and the mail, to obtain items used to build his own assault rifles in his own home,” said Lindsey Weinstein, assistant U.S. Attorney.

Weinstein said Sartwell searched details of the Las Vegas massacre in 2017 and could pose a threat while probation services are limited to check on him amid the pandemic.

The friend Cruz suggested Sartwell live with could also be exposed to the coronavirus while he works as an essential worker, Weinstein said, and the friend has a .50-caliber weapon registered to him, although Cruz said there were no weapons at the home.

“I think people are better off in private homes than institutional settings,” said Magistrate Judge M. Page Kelley. “At the very least, they have control over their environment in a way that they don’t (in detention).”

Kelley said she’ll make a determination on Sartwell’s detention pending filings in other federal lawsuits seeking the release of inmates over health concerns, as at least 8 inmates have died in Massachusetts facilities from COVID-19 complications, state officials have said.

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Source: Boston Herald