Posted: August 26, 2002
Orange County authorities have issued a warrant for the arrest of skinhead prison gang member Dominic Peter Rizzo after a friend paid his $500,000 bail to the Orange County Jail on July 17 with two fake cashier's checks. The checks were not discovered to be bogus until the following month.
Rizzo, 33, who was being held on attempted murder charges, is a member of Public Enemy Number One (a.k.a. PENI), a violent white supremacist prison gang with approximately 200 members in California.
In 1999, Rizzo was arrested with Donald Mazza, 31, and Albert Sherwin, 45, for participating in what prosecutors called a "prison-ordered hit." According to court papers, Rizzo was charged for his role in a violent attack against the father of his godchild. Prosecutors believe the attack may have been motivated by a belief that the victim, who initially refused to identify his attackers, was providing police with information against the gang. Rizzo has a long drug-related criminal record dating back to 1988.
Officers discovered that the two $250,000 checks were phony 18 days after Rizzo's friend, who gave a fake name, presented them to the Orange County Jail. While PENI has a history of identity theft and forging documents, this is the first incident authorities are aware of in which bogus checks were used to make bail. A warrant for Rizzo's arrest was issued on August 9.
PENI formed in the mid-1980s and has mainly operated out of Orange County. Although modeled after other white power skinhead and neo-Nazi groups, PENI skins have become more traditionally criminally active and less politically oriented in recent years. As the number of PENI members has increased in the California Department of Corrections, the group has formed alliances with other prison gangs who share their white supremacist philosophy, including members of the Aryan Brotherhood and Nazi Low Riders
Jim Amormino, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department, said that officials have decided that in the future they will accept checks for bail only when the bank can authenticate them.