Investigators said the gang routinely used violence as part of its business, which included drug trafficking, extortion, robbery, insurance fraud, money laundering and illegal gambling.
In court documents filed Thursday, federal public defenders ask Judge Tanya Walton Pratt to allow Bowser to plead guilty to all of the charges against him except the most serious racketeering charge that lies at the heart of the government's case. The document says Bowser wants to plead no contest to that charge even though the court still could punish him as if he were convicted. Bowser said "he will accept personal responsibility without pointing fingers at anyone else."
A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but is treated as such for sentencing purposes.
Federal prosecutors said in a response that allowing no contest pleas for Bowser and other Outlaws would undermine government efforts to dismantle them as a racketeering organization and put him in a position to maintain his leadership of the gang from inside prison and after he is released.
But defense attorneys say that allowing Bowser to plead no contest is in the public's best interest.
"Our federal government is in the midst of a fiscal meltdown," they argue, and federal courts have been hit especially hard by automatic spending cuts that required a $350 million budget reduction. The document cites a letter to Vice President Joe Biden from 87 chief federal judges that more cuts that are anticipated will compromise the courts' "constitutional duties, public safety and the quality of the justice system."