One killed, several injured in gang fight at biker expo
February 23, 2002 - PLAINVIEW, N.Y.
One man was killed and at least 10 others were injured when rival motorcycle clubs armed with daggers, baseball bats and a machine gun clashed at the Hellraiser Ball, an indoor motorcycle and tattoo expo, authorities said. Nassau County Chief of Detectives Herbert Faust said four people were shot, one fatally, and others injured when the melee erupted around 4:15 p.m. at the Vanderbilt, a well-known concert and catering hall in Plainview, N.Y. At least 60 people were in custody Saturday night and the number could grow, Faust told reporters outside the hall. Faust said the fight broke out between members of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, whose Long Island chapter sponsored the event, and a rival club, the Pagans. As many as 100 Pagans showed up at the event, which drew about 1,000 people, many of them Hells Angels members, Faust said. "There's been a long-standing feud between the two motorcycle gangs," he said. "At some point, there was a major conflict. We have gunshots, we have people stabbed, a major fight." Several people who fled the scene were apprehended nearby, Nassau County Police Commissioner William Willett said. Police also recovered numerous daggers, baseball bats and an Uzi automatic weapon, Faust said. The expo had been under surveillance by police, but was not expected to be violent, he said. "We had surveillance. We were aware of the event. We had no reason to believe it would have erupted into this type of conflict," he said. One man died in surgery and two others were being treated at North Shore University Hospital in Plainview, according to Betty Olt, a hospital spokeswoman. She would not describe their injuries. Nassau University Medical Center had treated nine injured people, hospital spokeswoman Shelley Lotenberg said. Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said hundreds of people were being detained for questioning inside the building, where the expo began at 10 a.m. Saturday. A search for suspects was ongoing throughout Nassau County and Suffolk County. Scott Casagrande of Medford, N.Y., said he was displaying a motorcycle at the show when he saw "a herd of people running toward us, saying 'Get out, get out, there's gunshots."' "Everybody ran," he added. "I heard gunfire downstairs but I thought nothing of it because a band was playing. It was very loud." According to the event's Web site, tattooists, piercers, motorcycle shops and other vendors paid up to $300 to rent space at the weekend expo.
Pagans attack Angels
February 24, 2002 - New York
With a healine right out of the Bible, bullets flew and blood flowed inside a Long Island convention hall yesterday as members of the Hells Angels and the Pagans clashed during the Hellraiser's Ball, a tattoo and motorcycle expo, sources said. One man was shot dead, three were wounded by gunfire and at least seven others were stabbed and beaten in what cops are calling a turf war between rival cycle clubs. Cops said 60 men were under arrest last night. They said they would face various weapons and riot charges - and a murder charge would be pending although they gave no details. The brutal biker battle turned quiet Plainview into a war zone, as ambulances evacuated the wounded, helicopters searched for suspects and police struggled to restore order to the Vanderbilt expo center. Cops kept nearly 1,000 Hellraiser's Ball patrons locked down for several hours last night inside the crowed convention hall - where a bullet-riddled blue van stood by the entrance. One of the people behind the police line last night was Chuck Zito, star of HBO's prison drama "Oz." The former head of the New York Angels chapter was signing autographs on the third floor when the brawl erupted. "It's like a big battle zone in here," he told The Post from inside the Vanderbilt. "The sad thing is there were a lot of children and families here. I'm just glad none of them were hurt. "It's kind of put a damper on things." The two-day expo was sponsored by the Long Island chapter of the Hells Angels. Police thought there might be trouble and stationed officers across the street. Everything was calm until just after 4 p.m. when a throng of Pagan members, who spotted the event on the Angels' Web site, crashed the party. "There's been a long-standing feud between the two motorcycle gangs," said Nassau County Chief of Detectives Herbert Faust. About 100 Pagans rode up in several vans packed with weapons and "a major conflict" erupted, Faust said. Mobs of bikers battled each other with baseball bats, clubs, knives and guns. Police said they found handguns and an Uzi submachine gun after the battle. Eight injured men were taken to Nassau County Medical Center. Three others were taken to North Shore University Hospital in Plainview. One died in surgery last night. After the battle, police in squad cars and helicopters swept the Plainview area - and last night said the probe was ongoing. They stopped 13 vans filled with suspects and weapons in different location within a mile of the Vanderbilt. Nine were found inside the shot-up van parked near the entrance. Also in the van was the man who died of knife and bullet wounds. He was not identified. After the hall brawl, a dozen burly bikers wearing beards and club jackets could be seen in handcuffs face-down on the paved parking lot of the Vanderbilt. Some of the handcuffed men wore jackets from the firefighters and police officer motorcycle clubs. Police said they were keeping the patrons inside the club until everyone was questioned. The aftermath of the battle also forced police to close the Long Island Expressway service road near Exit 48, which backed up traffic for miles. Hellraiser's Ball organizers said they expected a "record crowd" for an event that included concerts a best bike contest and "special guests" including Zito and prominent Hells Angels member Sonny Barger. The event was to last until today - but has been canceled
Bikers brawl leaves one dead, 73 arrested in NY
February 24, 2002
A rumble between rival motorcycle clubs at Saturday's Hellraiser Ball on Long Island erupted in gunfire and stabbings that left one man dead and 73 people arrested, police said on Sunday. Hells Angels member Raymond Dwyer of New York was charged with shooting to death 51-year-old Robert Rutherford, a Pagan rider from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The second-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years to life. At least 10 people were injured, four by gunshot, in the deadly brawl that broke out after members of the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Club crashed the motorcycle-tattoo convention sponsored by the local Hells Angels chapter at Vanderbilt concert hall, police said. The melee began late on Saturday afternoon after 10 van loads of Pagans arrived at the Vanderbilt, where some 1,000 people were attending the exposition in the elegant Art-Deco styled hall commonly used for weddings and ballroom dancing. The Pagans, armed with bats and ax handles, rushed in the front door and began overturning tables and smashing property and a wild brawl ensued, according to Lt. Frank Guidice, commanding officer of the Nassau County homicide squad. Guidice said Dwyer cut loose five or six shots from a small caliber pistol and hit Rutherford in the chest. Forty arrests were made at the scene and 33 more arrests were made as vans were stopped trying to flee the scene. All those arrested, with the exception of Dwyer, were members of the Pagans, said Guidice. Hundreds of weapons were found at the scene and confiscated from vans, Guidice said, including one Uzi submachine gun, two shotguns and numerous handguns, knives and clubs. Police conducted more than 750 interviews at the Vanderbilt, with some witnesses staying as long as eight hours to give testimony, police said. Most of those arrested faced charges of attempted gang assault, riot and criminal possession of a weapon. Sunday's second day of the scheduled two-day exposition was canceled.
Bikers Made Out Wills
February 27, 2002 - New York
Two members of the Pagans motorcycle club wrote out their wills before participating in a deadly weekend brawl with rival Hells Angels, a federal prosecutor said. A note found inside one of the Pagans' vans read, ``Kill, kill, kill.'' The fight at Saturday's Hellraiser Ball, sponsored by the Hells Angels, left one person dead and at least 10 others injured. Federal Prosecutor Burton Ryan said Pagan members went on a reconnaissance mission to map out the weekend attack at the ball, a motorcycle and tattoo expo. Ryan said the Pagans, all of whom are from out of state, met Saturday at a Lindenhurst, N.Y., restaurant before a small group went to the building where the event was taking place, to conduct ``reconnaissance'' and draw maps. The group returned to the restaurant and the full group of 73 loaded into 10 vans bound for the hall, he added. When they arrived, ``they immediately went and started attacking people and property,'' Ryan said. The prosecutor would not specify who had written out their wills. At least 24 reputed Pagans appeared in court on federal racketeering charges Tuesday stemming from the fight at Vanderbilt hall in Plainview, N.Y. The group was the first of 73 alleged Pagans set to make such appearances in a process that is expected to take several days and involve dozens of attorneys and several judges. The processing of the Pagan defendants ``is one of the largest the Eastern District has done in terms of volume,'' said Joseph Conway, head of the Long Island branch of the U.S. attorney's office. Conway said it was not known how many would make court appearances in the coming days because several of those charged are still hospitalized from injuries sustained Saturday. A law enforcement source speaking on condition of anonymity said a grand jury has been seated and could return an indictment as early as next week. The defendants also face state charges including riot in the first degree, attempted gang assault in the first degree and various weapons offenses. Raymond G. Dwyer, 38, of Oceanside, N.Y., identified by authorities as a member of the Hells Angels, has been charged with second-degree murder in the shooting of Robert Rutherford, a purported Pagan member. Dwyer was being held in jail and was due to appear in a state court on Thursday. Rutherford, 51, of Lancaster, Pa., died during surgery. Authorities have said the fight was the result of long-brewing turf tensions between the two clubs. The Pagans were the predominant motorcycle group in the area until 1998, when an investigation by federal and local law enforcement broke up the club with the arrests of more than 40 members. Since then, the Hells Angels, which operates chapters all over the world, increased its presence on Long Island. After Saturday's melee at the Hellraiser Ball, Nassau County police and federal agents seized hundreds of weapons, ranging from knives and baseball bats to handguns, shotguns and an Uzi machine gun.
Owner in the Dark
February 27, 2002 - New York
The president of the company that owns the Vanderbilt catering hall in Plainview said yesterday he was unaware that the bikers' ball held at the venue on Saturday was a Hells Angels event. John Caracciolo, of the Morey Organization in Garden City, said the event was booked by a Hempstead promotion company, Lighthouse Merchandising Corp., which holds such events throughout the country. Lighthouse Merchandising officials could not be reached to comment. "The Hells Angels didn't book the event,” Caracciolo said. "It was booked as a bike and tattoo expo and swap meet.” He said he knew motorcycle clubs would be invited, but it wasn't specifically billed to him as a Hells Angels event. Oyster Bay Town Supervisor John Venditto yesterday criticized the Morey group's judgment, saying the owners had a responsibility to know the type of event that was being held. He noted there was a Web site promoting the event that might have tipped them off. "I think it's safe to say that we are extremely disappointed,” Venditto said in an interview. "I don't know who knew what and when they knew it, but the owners are the bottom line here.” Venditto said the town has had no previous complaints or problems with the Morey Organization since it took over the Vanderbilt three years ago. "Prior to the Morey Organization coming in, we would receive a regular stream of complaints on things like traffic and noise,” Venditto said. "That stream of complaints disappeared under the Morey ownership.” The State Liquor Authority also said it had "no adverse history under these owners.” Deputy Commissioner Mark Anderson said the authority would investigate the weekend incident if it receives a referral from Nassau County police. Caracciolo and partner Jed Morey, who also own three Long Island radio stations, picked up the Vanderbilt in a bankruptcy sale in December 1998 for $4.5 million and have put in more than $5 million worth of renovations. The Vanderbilt was built by Jon Anthony and Steven Albicocco, who have developed numerous catering facilities on Long Island. Venditto said that after the police investigation is completed, the town will inspect the Vanderbilt to ensure its compliance with building codes. Caracciolo said he welcomes an inquiry by the town. He said the owners take safety precautions when holding events, including notifying Nassau police. "If they had any inclination that there would be a hazard ... they would have told us, and we would have canceled the event,” Caracciolo said. "I would not bring anything in that I feel is dangerous to the community.” He said tattoo and bike expos have been held there in the past without problems. He called what happened "an isolated incident. My heart goes out to anyone injured or hurt.” He said the venue is open and tonight is planning to host an event for the Long Island Advertising Club.
Bikers Staged Mission
February 27, 2002 - New York
Members of a biker gang staged a reconnaissance mission before the weekend attack on a motorcycle and tattoo expo sponsored by their rivals, a federal prosecutor said Tuesday. Two members of the Pagans motorcycle club also wrote out wills before the fatal brawl, prosecutor Burton Ryan said in court Tuesday. A note found inside a Pagans van read, ``Kill, kill, kill,'' he said. Ryan's comments came as 24 reputed Pagans made their initial court appearances on federal racketeering charges stemming from the fight at Saturday's Hellraiser Ball, sponsored by the rival Hells Angels. The fight at the Vanderbilt hall in Plainview, N.Y., left one person dead and at least 10 others injured. The defendants were the first of 73 alleged Pagans set to make appearances at the federal courthouse in Central Islip. Ryan said the Pagans, all of whom are from out of state, met Saturday at a Lindenhurst, N.Y., restaurant. A small group went to the Vanderbilt, where the event was taking place, to conduct ``reconnaissance'' and draw maps, Ryan said. The group returned to the restaurant and the full group loaded into 10 vans bound for the hall, he said. When they arrived, ``they immediately went and started attacking people and property,'' Ryan said. Authorities said the fight came from turf tensions that had boiled over between the Pagans and Hells Angels. Three Pagans told an FBI agent that ``the Mother Club was in control of the trip and had directed the out-of-state chapters to crash the Hellraiser Ball in a show of force,'' according to a criminal complaint filed Monday. Among those charged Tuesday was John Orem, of Maryland, whose court-appointed attorney, Edward Lundstedt, unsuccessfully argued in court that his client should be released on his own recognizance. ``It's a blanket complaint. It doesn't charge anybody with doing anything specific,'' Lundstedt said outside court. Nassau County Chief of Detectives Herbert Faust said the 73 Pagans who allegedly crashed the expo were also charged with riot, attempted gang assault and various weapons offenses. On Sunday, authorities charged Raymond G. Dwyer, 38, of Oceanside, whom they identified as a member of the Hells Angels, with second-degree murder in the shooting of Robert Rutherford, a purported Pagan member. Dwyer was being held in jail; his home telephone number was unlisted. Rutherford, 51, of Lancaster, Pa., died during surgery. Faust said the Pagans believe that Long Island is their territory, dating back several years to when they were the predominant motorcycle group in the area. The Pagans also have strongholds in Virginia and Pennsylvania, while the Hells Angels operate chapters all over the world.
Pagans Were Out for Revenge, Cops Say
February 27, 2002 - New York
The attack by members of the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Club on a Hells Angels exhibition in Plainview Saturday was in retaliation for a scuffle in a Philadelphia nightclub within the last two weeks, according to several law enforcement sources. The sources said the nightclub incident occurred when the rival groups "apparently by accident" entered the same club. But it followed increasing bitterness between the two biker clubs over the defection of a number of Pagans and Pagan associates in the Philadelphia area to the Hells Angels. The Hells Angels expo in Plainview, advertised on the group's Web site, was the first chance the Pagans had to publicly respond, the sources said, recounting what some of the 73 arrested Pagans have been telling law enforcement officials. Long Island had been considered Pagan turf until three years ago, when federal prosecutors sent more than 30 Pagans to prison. Since then, the Hells Angels have tried to expand from their clubhouse in Hempstead. The Pagans, who came from Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and five other states, were all arrested following Saturday's battle, in which one Pagan was shot to death and at least nine were wounded. Oceanside Hells Angel Raymond Dwyer has been charged with murder in the shooting. As the first of the Pagans arrested in Saturday's melee were arraigned in federal District Court in Central Islip yesterday, prosecutors described how about 80 club members met at a Lindenhurst bar Saturday morning, and sent a few members to map out the Hells Angel exhibition. While they waited for the scouts return, at least two wrote out "last will and testaments ... because they might die," said federal prosecutor Burt Ryan. In addition, one Pagan wrote on a scrap of paper the words "Kill, Kill, Kill." Then the group, which had arrived at the bar in about 20 vans, got into only 10 vans to be able to rush into the exhibit hall more quickly, Ryan said. One source familiar with the attack said the Pagans deliberately covered their club jackets, "or colors," with unmarked leather jackets, so they wouldn't alert the Hells Angels who were screening people entering the expo. Ryan said when the Pagans entered the exhibition they immediately began striking out at Angels and damaging property. Among the initial Pagans arraigned yesterday were John Orem, 48, who Ryan and federal prosecutor Leonard Lato identified as president of a Maryland chapter of the Pagans, and Stephen Jurnak, 48. Jurnak was identified by prosecutors as both the president of a Pittsburgh chapter and a ranking member of the Pagan's national leadership. Magistrate William Wall held both without bail pending a future hearing. Orem's attorney, Edward Lundstedt of Laurel, said the federal case was unfair because it lumped together all the arrested, not differentiating who were spectators and who may have been involved in the altercation. Jurnak's attorney, Barry Zone, of Manhattan, declined to comment immediately. The hearings for all the arrested Pagans are expected to continue through tomorrow.
Officials: Pagan Attack Part of Larger Scheme
February 28, 2002 - Long Island
The attack by members of the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Club on a Hells Angels expo on Long Island Saturday was part of a larger plan to avenge the loss of members to the rival club in the Philadelphia area, according to law enforcement sources. The plan also included the firebombing of a new clubhouse the Angels were building in Maryland and other attacks on Hells Angels locations in the United States, the sources said based on what imprisoned Pagans have been telling authorities. Some details of the revenge plot emerged yesterday as several leaders of the Pagans were among the club members arraigned in court on federal charges growing out of the attack on the Hells Angels expo that left one Pagan dead and at least nine Pagans wounded. A Hells Angel faces state murder charges in connection with the death. A number of Pagans and their associates had defected recently to the Maryland Hells Angels chapter, and an associate who had defected to the Hells Angels had fired several shots at Pagans emerging from a Philadelphia-area nightclub several days before the raid, the sources said. Nobody was injured in that incident. In response, the Pagans claimed to have burned down the unfinished new clubhouse, staged the raid on the Plainview expo and had planned other attacks, the sources said. The location of the clubhouse and whether it had actually been burned down, and other details of the revenge plan, could not immediately be determined. Among the Pagans arraigned on racketeering and other charges yesterday in U.S. District Court in Central Islip were Dennis Katona, 36, of Pittsburgh, the club's national sergeant at arms, and John Jones, 52, of Roanoke, Va., president of that city's chapter, according to federal prosecutor Burt Ryan. Prosecutors said Katona had a map of the Plainview expo hall with exits and Hells Angels' booths marked, indicating the site had been scouted before the attack. Ryan said Jones had an insignia on his Pagan jacket, or "colors," with the words "Taking Care of Pagans' Business" embroidered on it. This wording was club language for someone who had killed on behalf of the club, Ryan said. FBI agents had seized all the jackets of the arrested Pagans as evidence of their involvement in club activity. Jones' attorney, Joel Walter of Brooklyn, said his client was a hardworking man with no criminal history, and the government had no apparent evidence that he had been involved in any murders. Walter also said his client was not in good health and asked federal magistrate Michael Orenstein to ensure that prison officials continued to give him medication for arthritis and high blood pressure. Katona's attorney, Mark Lancaster, declined to comment. The arraignments are expected to continue today.
Prelude to Deadly Biker Clash
February 28, 2002 - New York
scenes from Vanderbuilt
They had called ahead for reservations at a neighborhood bar in Lindenhurst, telling the owner it would be a small party to welcome one of their brothers home from prison. But when members of the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Club began to show up at 9 a.m. Saturday outside Diamonds, a pub along a canal on South Ninth Street, the gathering turned out to be anything but small. At least 20 cars and vans with license plates from Pennsylvania, Maryland and several other states clogged the street, and about 90 club members whispered in clusters in the parking lot, drew sidelong glances from residents and sent bar employees scurrying for chopped beef. "It was supposed to be 12 people for breakfast," said the owner, Harold Prest. "That's why my chef got scared." As some Pagans quietly chewed on burgers and chatted politely with neighbors, several were dispatched to the Hellraiser Ball in Plainview, 11 miles to the northwest, to reconnoiter the motorcycle expo organized by their bitter rivals, the Hells Angels. Wearing leather jackets instead of their trademark denim "colors," the bikers checked out the Angels' vending booths and drew maps of the layout of the Vanderbilt catering hall. Back in Lindenhurst, the Pagans at Diamonds were preparing themselves for a fight. At least two had composed their wills, sources said, and one scrawled, "Kill, kill, kill," on a scrap of paper. Shortly after 3 p.m., employees said, the middle-aged, long-haired, bearded men dropped their burgers, loaded themselves into about 10 vans and left. About an hour later, all hell broke loose. The Pagans stormed the biker expo, swinging wooden baseball bats and ax handles. By the time it was over less than 10 minutes later, a 51-year-old postal worker from Lancaster, Pa. was dying and an Oceanside tattoo artist was to be charged with his murder. Eleven others were hospitalized, and 73 Pagans and another Hells Angel were facing federal and state charges. The Pagans had been the dominant biker club on Long Island until they were broken up by federal prosecutions in 1999. Law enforcement sources believe this attack was intended to send a message to the Hells Angels, which have a chapter in Hempstead, and to retaliate for disputes in other areas. "If people have a problem with us, you call us up on the phone," said Chuck Zito, a Hells Angel and star of the HBO series "Oz." "We'll meet you in a desert. We'll meet you in a football field and we'll take care of business. Don't come here to a public place where there are women and children walking around." It was 4:10 p.m when the vans rolled into the front parking lot of the Vanderbilt, trampling several orange cones intended to direct traffic, according to police and eyewitnesses. Hiding their colors under leather jackets, the first group of Pagans walked unstopped past several guards at the front entrance. The rest, finding the revolving door locked, pushed their way through two glass doors into the lobby, which was lined with tables of Hells Angels paraphernalia. The Angels had set up in that prime spot earlier in the day, shooing away other vendors from where exposure, and profits, promised to be highest. Immediately, the Pagans began to turn over the vending tables and lashed out with bats and ax handles at anyone in the lobby. "You see 8-foot wooden tables up in the air, T-shirts flying," said one vendor, who was coming out of the downstairs bar when the melee began. "I saw people taking tables and trying to use them as a blockade against knives and bullets." The second table near the door - where 10 minutes earlier, Sonny, the 2-year-old son of Hells Angels John "the Baptist" LoFranco, played on the green, red and gold marble floors - was flipped over. "These people tried to terrorize us," LoFranco said. "They put a lot of people at risk, our families, our children." Those who didn't run, witnesses said, used the overturned tables to drive the Pagans back toward the doors. A man ran up to the third floor screaming that an opposing motorcycle club was crashing the party. Then five or six shots rang out. Police would later say they all came from the gun of Raymond Dwyer of Oceanside, a Hells Angel and tattoo artist, who was standing near the stairwell. "I hear the popping noises," said the vendor. "You could smell the powder so you knew it was gunfire." Upstairs in one of the 15 private rooms on the third floor, Sonny Barger, the legendary leader of the Angels, and Zito were signing autographs. On the second floor, the Little Wolf band was playing, sharing stage space with Mickey Roarke's "Black Death" motorcycle shipped from California. "I ran downstairs," said Zito, a 23-year member with the New Rochelle Hells Angels. "Sonny's 64 years old so even though he wants to brawl ... I just said, 'Stay There.'" As Zito was going downstairs, others in the lobby were running toward the stairs. Some tore their clothes to bandage their wounds. One man, bashed on the head with a club, leaned on a stranger for support. A scruffy middle-aged man wearing a jean jacket half limped, half ran. "When he got about five feet away he started to tear his jeans open. His lower calf was bleeding," the vendor said. "It was horrible...When I saw the blood, I thought, 'It's not blanks.'" The Pagans may have had the same realization. Collectively, they darted back to their vans, but they were blocked in by patrol cars. Nassau police officers who had been monitoring the event stormed in through the doors. "I saw all these guys on the floor and the cops right over them," Zito said. "They were stretched out, spread eagle, with their faces to the ground. They weren't going to move." Police arrested 40 men at the scene, 10 inside the building and 30 piled in five vans in the parking lot. Robert Rutherford of Lancaster, Pa., with a single shot and stab wound to the chest, lay critically wounded amid nine people in a van on the street. Officers would arrest 23 more Pagans in three more vans and a white Ford Bronco within a mile of the place. When the chaos died down, confusion set in. "No one really knew how to react or what to do," the vendor said of those in the lobby. "People just started turning the tables back over and setting up merchandise, thinking the show was going to continue." He managed to carry a box of merchandise to his car before police in riot gear about five minutes later ordered what was left of the nearly 1,000 eventgoers to stay put, restricting hundreds to outside parking lots and trapping the rest inside. Eric Bedell, 27, an event patron, never even made it inside but mistakenly stepped within the yellow police tape to find his friends. He stayed there for eight more hours as police photographed and questioned each individual. "We weren't allowed to go to our cars, we weren't allowed to go to the bathroom," he said. "There were little kids walking around without jackets." Inside, some got tattoos, others fell asleep on piercing tables. Dwyer was arrested just before 2 a.m. when his turn for an interview arrived. At the hotel next door, his friends, red-eyed and slouching, tossed jackets on the floor and collapsed on beds, cursing the arrest. Back at the waterfront bar in Lindenhurst, a Chevy Blazer with Virgina plates, a Cutlass Ciera S from Delaware and a silver Lincoln from Pennsylvania sat abandoned in the gravel parking lot among crushed beer cans and cigarette butts.
Hells Angels murder suspect appears in court
February 28, 2002, - HEMPSTEAD, N.Y.
A member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club appeared in court Thursday, charged with murdering a member of a rival gang during a
brawl at a motorcycle and tattoo expo. The suspect, Raymond Dwyer, was accompanied by his lawyer, who asked the District Court judge to instruct prosecutors to provide all the pertinent information about last Saturday's fatal shooting. "We feel confident that the evidence will show that Raymond Dwyer is not guilty of any crime," attorney William Petrillo said later outside court. The fight at the so-called Hellraiser Ball sponsored by the Hells Angels left one person dead and at least 10 others injured. More than 70 members of the rival Pagans also face charges related to the brawl. At Thursday's hearing, Petrillo suggested to Judge Philip M. Grella that Dwyer may have been acting in self-defense when he allegedly opened fire at a group of Pagans, killing Robert Rutherford. Petrillo also reserved the right to request a bail hearing for his client, who is being held in a Nassau County jail without bail. Two of his fellow Hells Angels members were in court during the hearing, wearing their distinctive leather jackets with the gang's logo on the back. Petrillo said others had wanted to come along, but he said he discouraged too many from appearing. Dwyer is due back in court on March 13. Earlier this week, federal prosecutor Burton Ryan said Pagan members went on a scouting mission to map out the weekend attack at the expo in Plainview, N.Y. Ryan said the Pagans, all of whom are from out of state, met Saturday at a Lindenhurst, N.Y., restaurant before a small group went to the building where the event was taking place, to conduct "reconnaissance" and draw maps. The group returned to the restaurant and the full group of 73 loaded into 10 vans bound for the hall, he said. When they arrived, "they immediately went and started attacking people and property," Ryan said. About 50 reputed Pagans have appeared in federal court in Central Islip on
racketeering charges stemming from the fight, with the last two dozen still to make their court appearances. A law enforcement source speaking on condition of anonymity said a grand jury has been seated and could return an indictment on the federal charges as early as next week. The defendants also face state charges including riot in the first degree, attempted gang assault in the first degree and various weapons offenses. Rutherford, 51, of Lancaster, Pa., died during surgery. Authorities have said the fight was the result of long-brewing turf tensions between the two clubs.
Schaller's bakery head arrested in NYC biker brawl
March 1, 2002 - Maryland
A Greensburg baker who served six years in prison for a 1977 murder in Greensburg is one of 73 members of the Pagans motorcycle club arrested on federal racketeering charges after a brawl last weekend at a rival club's motorcycle and tattoo expo near New York City left one man dead. Warren Schaller, 51, of 232 S. Third St., Youngwood, was arraigned on racketeering charges this week before U.S. Magistrate Michael Orenstein in U.S. District Court in Central Islip, N.Y., Joseph Conway, head of the Long Island branch of the U.S. Attorney's Office, said Thursday. Schaller is being held in Nassau County Jail on Long Island without bail pending a hearing in federal court next week, Conway said. Schaller, who is president of Schaller's Bakery of Greensburg, was identified by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Brooklyn as one of the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Club members who attacked the Hells Angels Hellraiser Ball in Plainview, N.Y., on Saturday. A Hells Angel from New York is charged with the death of a Pagan from Lancaster, Lancaster County, who was shot and stabbed during the melee at an exhibition hall about 25 miles east of New York City. Five members were stabbed, five were shot and two suffered heart attacks in the attack that began about 4:15 p.m. and lasted only 10 minutes, federal authorities reported. Schaller is charged by the Nassau County District Attorney's office with three felonies — attempted gang assault, criminal possession of a weapon and riot in the first degree. A spokesman for the district attorney said Schaller could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted on the state charges. A law enforcement officer in Westmoreland County who is involved in undercover work said Schaller has been a member of the Pagans for many years. The officer did not know whether Schaller was an officer of any Pagans club. Schaller is no stranger to violent crime. In March 1978, he was convicted of third-degree murder in the July 2, 1977, shooting death of 21-year-old Michael Pierce outside the former Christopher Columbus Club at 251 W. Otterman St. He served time in a state prison from February 1979 to May 1985, according to the state Department of Corrections. Another area man who faces federal racketeering charges in connection with the Pagans attack is Dennis "Rooster" Katona, 35, of Large, Allegheny County. Katona, who operated the East Coast Cycles Inc. store on Route 51 in Rostraver Township, was identified by the U.S. Attorney's office as being the sergeant-at-arms for the Pagans' Mother Club, the national governing board for the Pagans. Katona was arraigned on the federal charges and is being held without bond pending a hearing next week, Conway said. Katona also was charged by Nassau County prosecutors with attempted gang assault and riot in the first degree. If convicted on those charges, he could serve up to 19 years in prison. The families of Katona and Schaller could not be reached for comment yesterday. No phone listing was available for either suspect. Nassau County courts have not yet held hearings on the state charges filed against Schaller, Katona and the other Pagans arrested in the brawl, the District Attorney's Office said. Those proceedings are pending the disposition of the federal hearings facing the Pagans, he said. The sheriff's department did not know whether Schaller and Katona made the trip to New York City together but reported there were several vans and cars with plates from Pennsylvania, Maryland and other states outside a Long Island restaurant where the Pagans gathered before the attack. Some of the Pagans arrested told federal authorities that the attack was authorized by the Pagans' Mother Club. The federal complaint filed against the Pagans said about 80 members rode in several vans to the exhibit hall. Armed with clubs, baseball bats and guns, they rushed into the exhibition, turning over tables and hitting some of the 700 people inside the hall during the 10-minute attack. A Nassau County sheriff's department spokesman said he did not know whether Schaller fired his weapon, what Schaller and Katona did during the brawl, or if the two men were arrested inside the exhibition hall. Police reported that 40 people were arrested inside the hall and in vans that were parked outside the building, while another 23 were arrested about a mile from the exhibition hall. When Katona was arrested, federal prosecutors said he had a map of the exhibition hall in plain view with the sites marked where the Hells Angels' exhibit tables would be located, an indication that the hall had been scouted before the attack began at about 4:15 p.m. Police seized several handguns and two loaded, 12-gauge shotguns from the Pagans' vans, the complaint stated. The war between the Pagans and Hells Angels dates back to the 1950s, according to the federal prosecutor's complaint. The Pagans, who the U.S. Attorney's office says engage in racketeering activity such as arson, robbery, assault, extortion and drug dealing, seek to assault rival motorcycle clubs, particularly the Hells Angels.
Bikers clash over turf and raise fears of more violence
Saturday, March 2, 2002 - New York
By their own account, the Pagans needed ``to show face.'' Here were the Hells Angels staging a widely publicized biker convention right on Long Island - turf the Pagans once dominated and still considered their own. The resulting melee at the ``Hellraisers Ball'' left one man dead last weekend, and raised fears that it was merely an early shot in a new battle between the rival motorcycle clubs.`` This was a first salvo in the gang war,'' said Yves Lavigne, author of several books about motorcycle gangs. Robert Rutherford, a Lancaster, Pa., postal worker and Pagan, was killed and at least 10 others injured during the Feb. 23 motorcycle and tattoo expo at the Vanderbilt catering hall. Hundreds of weapons - from knives, bats and brass knuckles to handguns, shotguns and a Tech-9 machine pistol - were seized. A Hells Angel stands accused in the killing; more than 70 Pagans face federal charges for allegedly plotting an assault on the expo.`` When you have this type of invasion, there's going to be obvious consequences,'' said George Knox, director of the Illinois-based National Gang Crime Research Center. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Conway said a number of incidents in recent weeks had increased tensions between the groups. Although he would not elaborate, Newsday reported a spate of recent defections by Maryland Pagans to the Hells Angels. Then came the Hellraisers Ball. Prosecutors allege the Pagans - Long Island's dominant club until their ranks were decimated by federal prosecutions in 1998 - were outraged the Hells Angels scheduled an event on what they still consider their home turf. Among those at the Hellraisers Ball were Sonny Barger, the Angels' legendary leader, and Chuck Zito, a member who appears in the HBO series about prison life, ``Oz.'' The event was advertised on the Internet. ``By putting on a public display like this, they are sending a message that they control the area and if anyone wants to do business in that area, they're going to have to do it with them,'' Lavigne said. Eighty Pagans from as far away as Maryland and Pennsylvania converged on a Long Island restaurant early on Feb. 23, where plans were devised for an attack, prosecutors say. A small group of Pagans allegedly made a ``reconnaissance'' visit to draw maps of the Vanderbilt setup. Some of those who piled into 10 vans and headed to the expo had written out wills, and three or four were wearing bulletproof vests, prosecutors said. Knox said the alleged attack at such a public function, where women and children were attending, indicates the ``rules may have changed ... They may have violated the sanctity of a club function. ''The alleged shooter, Raymond Dwyer, a member of the Long Island chapter of the Angels, is being held without bail. His attorney said a self-defense argument is among the strategies considered. Meanwhile, a federal grand jury could return conspiracy indictments as early as next week against 73 reputed Pagans. Many Pagans appeared to be in their 40s or 50s, men with families and mortgages. Rutherford, the victim, had a wife and son and was nearing retirement after 30 years with the Postal Service. Mark Lancaster, a Pittsburgh lawyer who represents the Pagans, contends they were entitled to attend the expo - and were victims of aggressive behavior by the Hells Angels. ``They were there to show face,'' he said. ``And show they're not afraid of the Hells Angels despite the absence of Pagans from the Long Island community.'' Both share long criminal histories marked with conspiracy, racketeering and drug charges. The Hells Angels have tried to smooth over some rough edges in recent years, and renting the Vanderbilt, a catering hall better known for its wedding receptions, was an example. ``I think you'd be hard-pressed to find anything in the past 10 years that the Hells Angels have done wrong,'' said Michael DerGarabedian, a lawyer for the Long Island chapter. ``The Hells Angels completely support Raymond Dwyer, both here on Long Island and on a national level. ''Lavigne predicts any further violence will come quietly.`` You may hear about assassinations on expressways, vans pulling alongside guys on bikes and opening fire this summer,'' he said. ``You won't have big rumbles - this is something that will be done professionally.''
Hell's Angels vow revenge on Pagans, Cops on alert after raid on ball caused bloodbath
March 4, 2002
The Pagans Outlaw Motorcycle Club will have hell to pay for crashing last weekend's Hellraiser Ball on Long Island and causing a bloodbath that left one dead and nearly a dozen shot and stabbed sources say. Late Wednesday, the Nassau County Police Department sent out an alert to all police departments on the East Coast warning them that the Long Island chapter of the Hell's Angels, which sponsored the ball, wants revenge. "Many Hell's Angels have left Long Island and are allegedly going to regroup in the state of Virginia," according to a copy of the teletype obtained by the Daily News. "After the regrouping the Hell's Angels will retaliate against the Pagans . . .It is not known where this retaliation will occur." Cpl. Jim Pauley, spokesman for the Philadelphia Police Department, said cops are taking the warning seriously. "We've instructed our officers at roll calls about what happened in New York and passed along the information we received from Nassau County," he said. "We are having our investigative units keep an eye on certain locations in Philadelphia," he said without elaborating. The teletype also urges cops to check all local motels, speak to the clerks about any suspicious activity and encourage them to notify law enforcement of any incidents with motorcycle club members. Last Saturday around 4 p.m., about 80 members of the Pagans Motorcycle Club from six different states, armed with clubs and guns, stormed the Hellraiser Ball. They were under orders from the Mother Club to "tweak the b - - - - " of the rival club, according to court papers. During the melee, Robert Rutherford, a 51-year-old Pagan from Lancaster, was slain. Raymond Dwyer, a 38-year-old Hell's Angel from Ocean-side, N.Y., is charged with his death. Seventy-three other Pagans, including several from the Philadelphia area, were arrested and charged with state and federal gang-related offenses. Dwyer's supporters say he acted in self defense. His chapter of the Hell's Angels has started a defense fund for him. They are publicizing it on their "Hellraiser Ball 2002" Web site which has the phrase "Free Ray" flashing across it. Investigators are still trying to piece together a motive. Some media outlets were reporting last week that the latest dispute between the two clubs stemmed from something that happened at a Philadelphia-area nightclub a couple of weeks ago. Law enforcement authorities would not confirm that. There are also reports that the Hell's Angels are trying to make inroads into Pagan territory in Philadelphia. The local chapter has been leaderless since its president, Steven "Gorilla" Mondevergine, began serving a 27-month prison sentence last fall for a shooting. But Sgt. John May, a commander with the Nassau County Police Department, said the same situation is true in Nassau County. The Pagans were the dominant motorcycle group there until 1998 when an investigation by federal and local law enforcement broke up the club with the arrests of more than 40 members, including the local president. "Within the last year, the Hell's Angels opened a clubhouse here in Hempstead," he said. "That may be a possible motive, but it may not be the only motive. There's long-standing rivalry between the two groups." Court papers said the rivalry dates back to the 1950s. Among those arrested from this area are: Joseph Bellocchio of Philadelphia; Carl Brown of Philadelphia; Joseph G. DeMatteo of Philadelphia; Dominick DiPietro of Philadelphia; Timothy Flood of Philadelphia; Michael C. Hrabal of Bridgeport; David M. Pauswinski of Philadelphia; Harry Quinter of Reading; Robert L. Quinter of Reading and Rick Ruhlman of Pottstown. They are all still incarcerated at the Nassau County Correctional Center in East Meadow, N.Y., said Rick Henshaw, spokesman for the Nassau County district attorney's office. No preliminary hearing dates have been set. The Pagans made headlines here recently when Thomas James Campbell, 52, killed Upper Darby Police Officer Dennis McNamara. Campbell is reportedly a ranking Mother Club member. He faces a preliminary hearing on the murder charges on March 13.
Bail Denied For 6 Pagans
By Robert E. Kessler
March 5, 2002
After viewing evidence that included a bloody drawing with the words "Die Die Die" and "Murder Death Kill," federal magistrates have refused to grant bail to the first six of 73 members of the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Club arrested in the aftermath of a melee at a Plainview expo sponsored by the Hells Angels.
In denying bail to two of the Pagans yesterday, Magistrate E. Thomas Boyle agreed with federal prosecutor Gary Brown that the evidence showed the Pagans were a danger to the community and had engaged in "a planned attack ... without regard to risk to numerous people, including women and small children."
Another magistrate denied bail to four other Pagans on Friday.
The evidence presented by Brown in bail hearings at the U.S. District Court in Central Islip yesterday and Friday included surveillance photos of a Pagan fleeing a Long Island exhibition hall holding a blackjack and the bloodied face of a Hells Angel who had been beaten.
Also included were papers seized from Pagans at the site, among them a map of the layout of the exhibition hall with the location of booths operated by the Hells Angels and a security camera marked; and a drawing showing one stick figure striking another.
Brown also introduced two wills written by Pagans before they entered the exhibition hall, in one of which a Pagan wrote that he was leaving "my Harley to my son."
One Pagan was killed and at least nine others were injured when the Hells Angels fought back. One Angel has been charged in state court with murder in the death of the Pagan.
The Pagans are facing federal charges of racketeering, conspiracy, assault and use of firearms.
Copyright © 2002, Newsday, Inc.
Suspect in Pagans melee had map of expo, prosecutors say
March 6, 2002
One of the Allegheny County men arrested on charges stemming from a deadly melee in New York involving rival motorcycle clubs was carrying a detailed map of the catering hall where the brawl occurred, federal prosecutors said. Dennis "Rooster" Katona, 35, of Large, who is one of perhaps 25 bikers from southwestern Pennsylvania arrested on federal and local charges, also has been identified in federal court papers as the sergeant-at-arms for the Pagans' Mother Club, the national governing board for the Pagans motorcycle club that prosecutors say ordered the attack. Prosecutors believe the incident — which occurred Feb. 23 at the "Hellraiser Ball" at the Vanderbilt social club and banquet hall on Long Island — was the result of an ongoing turf war between the Pagans and its longtime rival, the Hells Angels. One member of the Pagans — Robert Rutherford, 51, a U.S. Postal Service employee from Lancaster County — was killed and a dozen other people were injured in the melee that erupted in the community of Plainview, about 25 miles east of New York City. All but two of the victims were Pagans; none were Hells Angels, court papers say. All the injured are expected to recover from gunshot wounds, stab wounds and heart attacks. Katona is accused of racketeering, as are the 72 other middle-aged, long-haired, bearded men with wives and mortgages identified in court papers as Pagan members involved in the brawl. A federal indictment against the bikers could be handed down Thursday, said Mark Lancaster, a Pittsburgh attorney who has represented the Pagans for the past decade. Katona, who operated the East Coast Cycles Inc. store on Route 51 in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland County, also is charged by prosecutors in Nassau County, N.Y., with attempted gang assault and riot in the first degree. Federal prosecutor Burton Ryan said Pagan members went on a scouting mission to map out the attack. When Katona was arrested, he was carrying a map showing the location of the Hells Angels' exhibit booths and the exits inside the Vanderbilt, court papers state. Other Pagans arrested who have known ties to southwestern Pennsylvania are: Thomas Bruce of the South Side; Stephen Jurnak, 48, of Mt. Washington, believed to be the president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the gang; and Warren Schaller, 51, of Youngwood, Westmoreland County, the president of Schaller's Bakery in Greensburg. Schaller served six years in prison for his conviction on third-degree murder charges that were filed after the 1977 shooting death of a 21-year-old man outside a Westmoreland County club. Lancaster would not say how many other Pagans from southwestern Pennsylvania were arrested following the melee, but said the total "may be as many as 25." According to court papers: Hellraiser Ball 2002 was an indoor motorcycle and tattoo expo and swap meet open to the public that drew Hells Angels and their friends from across the United States and Canada. About 4:15 p.m. Feb. 23, 10 vehicles filled with Pagans armed with guns, clubs and knives pulled up to the front door and charged inside in an unprovoked attack. There were about 700 people inside, including bikers, women and children. Members of the Hells Angels began a counterattack when one of them, Ray Dwyer of the Long Island chapter, shot and killed Rutherford. The counter attackers repulsed the Pagans within three or four minutes. Police arrested many Pagans in the parking lot and others within a three-mile radius of the hall. Lancaster told Newsday that the Pagans were entitled to attend the public expo and contends they were the victims of aggressive behavior by the Hells Angels. "They were there to show face," Lancaster told the newspaper. "And show they're not afraid of the Hells Angels despite the absence of Pagans from the Long Island community."
Member of Pagans Tattoo Shop firebombed
March 06, 2002 - Philadelphia
In what some investigators said is the latest installment in a last-man-standing battle between the Pagans and Hell's Angels motorcycle clubs, a South Philadelphia tattoo parlor belonging to a Pagans leader was firebombed Tuesday night. The firebombing occurred as police along the East Coast were on alert for possible retaliation by Hell's Angels following a brawl at the club's Hellraiser Ball in New York two weeks ago. "Obviously, we're looking into that connection," said Capt. Joseph O'Brien of the South Detective Division. The owner of the tattoo parlor, Joseph "Coney Island Joe" DeMatteo, was one of more than 70 Pagans arrested on Feb. 23 after they allegedly crashed the Hellraiser Ball. A Pagans member was shot and killed and more than a dozen people were beaten, shot and stabbed during the melee. A Hell's Angels member was charged with the murder. DeMatteo, like most of those arrested, has been held without bail on assault and riot charges. A federal grand jury is expected to return indictments this week. O'Brien said police have no witnesses to Tuesday's firebombing of Coney Island Joe's Tattoo Studio in the 1500 block of Snyder Avenue. The attack occurred about 10:30 p.m., when the shop was closed. "There appears to be a mounting feud between the two groups," said Lt. Thomas Coccia of the Philadelphia Police Department's Organized Crime Unit, which has been tracking the escalating battle between the Pagans and Hell's Angels for several months. Among other things, authorities also are closely monitoring a scheduled "tattoo arts festival" planned for the Airport Ramada Inn in Tinicum Township, Delaware County, this month. The annual three-day affair, set to begin next Thursday, traditionally attracts a large number of bikers. Animosity between the Pagans and Hell's Angels - longtime rivals - has risen in recent months. The Hell's Angels, who recently made inroads on the onetime Pagans stronghold of Long Island, also have established a presence in the Philadelphia area for the first time, according to law-enforcement officials. Among their recent recruits - so-called prospects - is a group of former Pagans who left the Philadelphia chapter in an internal dispute. "They've had a lot of 'patchovers,' " said Coccia, using a biker term for a club member who has changed his affiliation. Coccia said the Philadelphia branch of the Pagans, which at one time included three chapters, was "in disarray." Several members, including the presidents of two chapters, have defected to the Hell's Angels, he said. "And the core group that's left is not happy about it," Coccia added. DeMatteo, who is in his 50s, is believed to be one of the leaders of that core group, Coccia said. Others in law enforcement have said that the brawl on Long Island was sparked in part by the defection of Philadelphia-area Pagans to the Hell's Angels. Authorities say about 70 members of the Pagans Motorcycle Club from six states stormed the Hellraiser Ball last month. Armed with bats and ax handles, they overturned tables and began smashing property inside a Plainview, N.Y., catering hall, the Vanderbilt. The ball, which included music, appearances by pornographic film stars, a motorcycle exposition, and a tattoo contest, was attended by about 1,000 people, according to news reports of the riot. Police said trouble started when 10 vanloads of Pagans crashed the affair. Police arrested 73 people and confiscated an assortment of weapons. The weapons included one Uzi submachine gun, two shotguns, and an array of handguns, knives and clubs. The brawl was the latest in a series of confrontations between Pagans and police. The Pagans' recent problems include the jailing of longtime South Philadelphia club president Steven Mondevergine on assault and racketeering charges last year, and the arrest last month of onetime Pagans leader Thomas James Campbell in the murder of an Upper Darby police officer. Mondevergine, who survived an assassination attempt three years ago, was charged with attempting to gun down a rival on Oregon Avenue in November 2000. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison. At his sentencing hearing, federal authorities described the Pagans as a criminal enterprise engaged in drug trafficking, loan-sharking, and extortion. Campbell, a onetime vice president of the Bucks County chapter of the Pagans, was charged with the murder of Officer Dennis McNamara, who was shot in the face at point-blank range after confronting Campbell outside a Perry Avenue residence in Upper Darby. On Delaware County's most-wanted list for more than a year, Campbell, according to some sources, had been drummed out of the Pagans during the same internal power struggle that has decimated the Philadelphia chapters. DeMatteo's tattoo parlor, located on the southwest corner of Hicks Street and Snyder Avenue across from the Melrose Diner, was closed today.. Authorities said there was minimal damage and no one was injured. The business is on the first floor of a building that also houses at least two apartments. Fire officials said the building's fire alarm alerted a 21-year-old female resident of the second-floor apartment, who escaped unharmed. The third-floor apartment was unoccupied, officials said. Executive Fire Chief William Brightcliffe said the remains of two "incendiary devices" were found in a small bathroom on the Hicks Street side of the parlor. Investigators said they were plastic bottles that had probably been filled with gasoline. A third plastic bottle was found on the sidewalk outside. Officials said it was fortunate that the bottles were thrown through the bathroom window. The small, three-by-five foot room was locked and the fire did not spread. "Everyone is speculating that it was retaliation," said Joshua Briskin, DeMatteo's lawyer. "I hope that's not the case."
In South Philly, bikers are good neighbors
March. 07, 2002 - Philadelphia, PA
Folks in some neighborhoods would bristle at the thought of a tattoo parlor opening on the corner. Not to mention one run by guys in an infamous motorcycle club. But not in South Philly. In fact, before Coney Island Joe's Tattoo Shop was firebombed Tuesday night, neighbors in the vicinity of Hicks Street and Snyder Avenue said Coney Island Joe's was a good, upstanding local business. "It's a business. They weren't bothering anybody," neighbor Catherine Gabbett said. "They're really quiet," said Alfred Spino, who lives across the street. "Those motorcycle clubs, they keep to themselves. If they're into illegal things, or whatever, I don't know. They don't bother the neighbors." The corner was a problem back when it was a hair salon and kids hung out drinking on the steps at night, said Anthony Prisco, who lives a few doors down on Hicks. That problem ended when the tattoo parlor opened. "It's the quietest the corner has ever been," Prisco said. A few years ago, the owners even distributed Christmas cards down the block with a lottery ticket in it for every house. "Too bad about what happened," said Lisa Russo, a neighbor. "I knew those guys. They did all of my tattoos. I got nine of them." A few people ran out of their homes Tuesday night when a flaming bottle crashed through the window of the building, but to most neighbors it was no big deal. This is South Philly, after all. "We lived on Porter Street when [Philip] Testa's place was blown up [in a 1981 mob hit]," Prisco said. "That was much bigger. You fear anywhere but I wouldn't get scared of this." Faced with the possibility that the firebombing was a retaliatory strike by the Hell's Angels, who reportedly have their eyes on Pagan territory, and that this neighborhood could become a battleground in a motorcycle gang turf war, few voiced concerns. "Why would it bother me? I was brought up around mob guys," Spino said. If there's a problem between the Pagans and Hell's Angels, it's "among themselves," said Betty Ann Lanahan, who has lived in the neighborhood for 58 years. "They have never bothered us."
Bail denied biker after deadly brawl
March 7, 2002 - New York
A federal magistrate in New York refused to set bail for the president of a Greensburg bakery company, who the judge declared a danger to the community for his alleged involvement in a deadly brawl between rival motorcycle clubs near New York City last month. Warren Schaller, 51, of 232 S. Third St., Youngwood, who faces federal racketeering charges, was denied his request for bail during a hearing Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate E. Thomas Boyle in Central Islip, Long Island, said Joseph Conway, head of the Long Island branch of the U.S. Attorney's Office. Boyle issued a "permanent order of detention" based on Schaller being a "danger to the community" and based on the offense and events surrounding it, Conway said. Schaller, who is being held in the Nassau County Jail on Long Island, is accused of being one of 73 members of the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Club from several states who attacked the Hells Angels motorcycle club's exposition Feb. 23 in Plainview, N.Y. A Pagan gang member from Lancaster was shot to death, allegedly by a Hells Angel from New York. Five members were stabbed and five others were shot in the melee. Conway said Schaller was one of the Pagans arrested who was found in one of several vans that police stopped outside the hall where the assault occurred. There were only a few shots fired, and Conway does not believe Schaller had fired the weapon in his possession when he was arrested. Other members of the Pagans charged with racketeering are having similar bail hearings this week before federal magistrates on Long Island. Schaller is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Tuesday before Boyle on the federal racketeering charges the U.S. Attorney's Office filed last week against him and 72 other members of the Pagans. If convicted of the charges, Schaller could face up to 20 years in prison, Conway said. Schaller, who is president of the family-owned Schaller's Bakery of Greensburg, also is among the Pagans who face charges filed by Nassau County, where the brawl occurred. Schaller is charged by the Nassau County District Attorney's Office with attempted gang assault, criminal possession of a weapon and riot in the first degree. If convicted of those three felonies, Schaller could be sentenced to a prison term of up to 25 years, the District Attorney's Office stated. Schaller's criminal history was incomplete in a Tribune-Review story on March 1. Schaller served time in a state prison from February 1979 to May 1985 in connection with the 1977 shooting death of 21-year-old Michael Pierce of Staten Island, N.Y., outside the former Christopher Columbus Club at 251 W. Otterman St., Greensburg. A jury originally convicted Schaller on March 10, 1979, of third-degree murder for the shooting death of Pierce, but he was granted a new trial in 1981. At his retrial, Schaller was convicted of involuntary manslaughter on Nov. 17, 1981. Another Westmoreland County man arrested in the Feb. 23 brawl between motorcycle gang members, Dennis "Rooster" Katona, 35, of Lincoln Way, North Huntingdon, formerly of 501 Julian Drive, Large, Allegheny County, remains in Nassau County Jail pending a bail hearing Friday afternoon, Conway said. The U.S. Attorney's Office identified Katona in a complaint filed against the Pagans as the sergeant-at-arms for the Pagans Mother Club, the national governing board of the Pagans. Katona also was charged by Nassau County with attempted gang assault and riot in the first degree.
Blast from the past: Pagans vs. Angels
March 08, 2002 - Post-Gazette
"You go to a bar and the prestige is unbelievable. You walk into a big nightclub and you can hear a pin drop. Everybody knows us, like [Moses] separating the Red Sea. Everybody moves back: 'Ooh, that's them!'" That's the kind of reverence the Pagans motorcycle club once enjoyed, a former member told the now defunct Pennsylvania Crime Commission. But respect has always come hard in the outlaw biker world. That's why investigators fear that last month's deadly assault by the Pagans on the archrival Hell's Angels at a Long Island catering hall is almost certain to spawn more violence, some of which could spill into Western Pennsylvania, home to as many as 25 of the 72 Pagans arrested after the brawl. The retaliation may have already begun in the eastern part of the state. Police in Philadelphia suspect that the firebombing of a South Philadelphia tattoo parlor on Tuesday was the latest volley in a long-simmering war between the rival clubs. The owner of the shop, Joseph "Coney Island Joe" DeMatteo, was among the Pagans arrested Feb. 23 after the attack at the Angels "Hellraisers Ball" exposition, where one Pagan, 51-year-old Robert Rutherford of Lancaster, was shot dead and 10 other people were injured. Police believe some of the violence could spread to the Pittsburgh area, where the Pagans, though not nearly as strong as they once were, have a long history and some powerful members. "Most of these guys are in their 40s and 50s and still riding around," said Larry Likar, a former FBI supervisor in Pittsburgh. "They're not as powerful as they once were, but they are still trading on the Pagans name to intimidate people." Among those held in New York is Dennis "Rooster" Katona, 35, of North Huntingdon, the national sergeant-at-arms of the Pagans' Mother Club. Katona is the successful owner of East Coast Cycles Inc., which has shops in Rostraver, Florida, Germany and Austria. According to police and the FBI in New York, Katona was also one of the plotters in the attack. Police said he had a map of the Hellraiser Ball exhibits and the catering hall, suggesting he was responsible for scouting the location before the assault. He is charged with attempted gang assault and riot. Another local Pagan arrested in New York is Warren Schaller, 51, of Youngwood, who is former president and part-owner of Schaller's Bakery of Greensburg. Schaller, whose Pagan handle is "Bake," is charged with attempted gang assault, riot and a weapons offense. A relative of Schaller's who answered the phone at the bakery said the family-owned shop employs 50 people who would like to distance themselves from the arrest. He didn't want to be identified by name, but he said the family and the employees had heard rumors that Schaller was a Pagan but never thought they were true. "We're as surprised as anybody by this," he said. "This is terrible for business." A federal magistrate judge in New York has ordered that Schaller be held without bond as a "danger to the community." Schaller has a criminal history in Western Pennsylvania, serving a prison term from 1979 to 1985 in connection with the 1977 shooting death of Michael Pierce, 21, of Staten Island, N.Y., outside a Greensburg club. Schaller was originally convicted in 1979 of third-degree murder but granted a new trial in 1981, after which he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Another Western Pennsylvania man charged is Steven Jurnak, 48, of Mount Washington, who, investigators said, was president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pagans until about five years ago. Some of the Pagans arrested told federal authorities that the attack was authorized by the Pagans' Mother Club, its national organizing body, because the Hell's Angels had taken over former Pagan turf on Long Island. According to a federal complaint, about 80 members rode in several vans to the exposition. Armed with clubs, baseball bats and guns, they rushed inside, turning over tables and striking some of the 700 people inside the hall during a 10-minute attack that stunned onlookers and police alike. According to police, the Pagans got the worst of the brawl. "I wouldn't give these guys too much credit for being bright," said Lt. Steven Skrynecki of the Nassau County police. The war between the Pagans and Hell's Angels dates to the 1950s. But the two clubs have been heading in opposite directions in recent years, with the Hell's Angels becoming more established and the Pagans losing influence. The Hell's Angels say they are trying to become a legitimate organization and put their outlaw past behind them. Skrynecki said that may be true but "we don't lose sight of the fact that this has been a criminal group." In Canada, the Hell's Angels are so dominant in the drug trade that police have created a special unit, the Wolverines, to go after them. The Pagans were nearly eliminated from Long Island by a federal prosecution in 1998. But when the Hell's Angels moved into their former territory, investigators believe, they felt they had no choice but to fight back. Mark Lancaster, a Pittsburgh lawyer who represents the Pagans, contends they were entitled to attend the Hellraiser Ball expo and were victims of aggression by the Hell's Angels. He didn't return a call from the Post-Gazette, but he told news organizations in New York that the Pagans went to the expo to "show they're not afraid of the Hell's Angels despite the absence of the Pagans from the Long Island community." Four clubs have long dominated in the United States: the Hell's Angels, the Pagans, the Outlaws and the Bandidos. The Pagans, who got their start in Maryland, have always been Pennsylvania's dominant club. Two major federal prosecutions in the 1980s hurt them badly here, however, when the FBI used the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act to "decimate" the group, according to Likar. "They're making a strong comeback," said the police investigator. "But this is going to hurt them. They are in disarray right now, so many of them are locked up."
73 BIKERS INDICTED IN L.I. BRAWL
March 13, 2002 - NY Post
Seventy-three members of the Pagans motorcycle club were indicted yesterday on federal racketeering charges stemming from a fatal brawl last month at the rival Hells Angels convention on Long Island. The Feb. 23 fight at the Hellraisers Ball, a motorcycle and tattoo expo in Plainview, left one man dead and at least 10 others injured. Prosecutors allege the Pagans were outraged that the Angels had scheduled an event on what they still consider their home turf. Authorities allege that Pagans members from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland and elsewhere converged on Long Island and conspired to attack the Hells Angels event. Hundreds of weapons, including knives, bats, brass knuckles and shotguns, were seized. Mark Lancaster, a lawyer for the 73 Pagans, who were being held without bail, insisted his clients are innocent. Among those at the Hellraisers Ball were Sonny Barger, the Angels' legendary leader, and Chuck Zito, a member who appears in the HBO series about prison life, "Oz."
12 local Pagans indicted in melee
March 13, 2002 - Pittsburgh Tribune
Twelve members of the Pagans motorcycle club who live in western Pennsylvania were among 73 indicted Tuesday for their roles in an attack on the Hells Angels last month at a Long Island social club that left one dead and a dozen injured. The four-count federal indictment, handed down in the Eastern District of New York, charges 73 Pagan members with conspiracy to commit assault, assault, using and carrying firearms and carrying explosives. All of the suspects also face charges by the Nassau County district attorney, including attempted gang assault, riot and weapons charges. A Philadelphia man has been released on bond for health reasons and the rest still are being held, officials said. The indictment follows warnings by law enforcement that the long-running feud between the two rival motorcycle clubs is heating up again, after increased efforts by both groups to expand their turf. Lt. Terry Katz, Criminal Intelligence Division of the Maryland State Police, has spent 20 years monitoring motorcycle gang activity and spent almost three years undercover with the Pagans. He said all the major motorcycle gangs have expanded in the last decade and that the melee in New York and a bombing in Philadelphia last week could be preludes to an all-out war between the Pagans and Hells Angels. "Each gang is a target-rich environment for the other. If the past is any indicator, you're likely to see bombings and shootings in an attempt to avenge perceived wrongs," Katz said. Katz said the Pagans have been very active in southwestern Pennsylvania and have chapters in Fayette City, Pittsburgh and Greensburg. In all, there are about 30 members in southwestern Pennsylvania with each member having 10 criminal associates who are not members of the club, Katz said. Associates fall into many categories, from business owners to members of street gangs and even La Cosa Nostra, Katz said. Katz said some Pagans are legitimate businessmen, but many operate illegal prostitution, drug and extortion rackets. Pittsburgh attorney Mark Lancaster, who has represented the Pagans for the past decade, says the group consists of family-oriented men who "believe in freedom and motorcycles." "They're like any other group of people. They're good guys, no different from members of the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police) or the Elks Club," Lancaster said. Many in law enforcement disagree. "It's about keeping their turf," said Detective Sgt. Greg Quinn, special investigations squad of the Nassau County police, where the brawl occurred. "They thrive on illegal activity — whether its guns, drugs or prostitution — wherever they can make money." Police in Philadelphia suspect the firebombing of a tattoo parlor owned by Pagans member Joseph "Coney Island Joe" DeMatteo, could be in retaliation for the Hellraiser Ball attack last month. Warnings to watch for retaliation have gone out to law enforcement along the East Coast, officials said. DeMatteo was one of the 73 Pagans arrested Feb. 23 after the gang crashed the Hells Angels' event. About a dozen van loads of Pagans stormed the Vanderbilt social club and banquet hall on Long Island during a Hells Angels rally. Pagan member Robert Rutherford, 51, a U.S. Postal Service employee from Lancaster County, was killed in the melee that erupted in the community of Plainview, about 25 miles east of New York City. Hells Angels member Ray Dwyer of the Long Island chapter, allegedly shot and killed Rutherford, authorities said. Dwyer has not been charged. (????) Hellraiser Ball 2002 was an indoor motorcycle and tattoo expo and swap meet that drew Hells Angels and their friends from across the United States and Canada. Pagans armed with clubs, guns and knives launched an unprovoked attack, according to the federal indictment. There were about 1,000 people inside, including bikers, women and children. Members of the Hells Angels fought back and one of their members shot and killed the Pagan, according to the indictment. All but two victims were Pagans; none belonged to the Hells Angels, court papers say. The injured are expected to recover from gunshot wounds, stab wounds and heart attacks. Larry Likar, a former FBI special agent in Pittsburgh, said federal prosecutors decimated the Pagans' ranks in the 1980s. He played down the notion of reprisals in southwestern Pennsylvania, saying the Hells Angels has almost no presence here. Likar described the Pagans as the smaller of the big four motorcycle clubs. The other large clubs are the Bandidos and the Outlaws, which, like the Hells Angels, have international membership. "The Hells Angels are definitely trying to expand but they haven't made any incursions in this area. It'd be a huge mistake for the Pagans to go into any kind of prolonged turf war with Hells Angels."
15 Pagans Get Day in Court
March 19, 2002
Fifteen members of the Pagan Outlaw Motorcycle Club pleaded not guilty yesterday at arraignment on federal charges of racketeering, conspiracy, assault, using and carrying firearms and carrying explosives. The arraignment of 58 other Pagans arrested after a fight at a rival Hells Angels expo Feb. 23 in Plainview were expected to continue late yesterday, today, and tomorrow, according to federal prosecutors Gary Brown and Leonard Lato. Among the Pagans arraigned yesterday were Dennis Katona of Pittsburgh, the club's national sergeant-at-arms, and Joseph DeMatteo of Philadelphia. Police in Philadephia are investigating whether the firebombing two weeks ago of DeMatteo's tattoo parlor, Coney Island Joe's, a Pagans hangout, was in retaliation by the Hells Angels for the incident in Plainview, which left one Pagan dead and at least nine wounded. DeMatteo's attorney, Joshua Briskin, declined to comment yesterday, as did Katona's attorney, Mark Lancaster. Law enforcement sources have said that while the Pagans and the Hells Angels have long been rivals, the immediate incident triggering the attack by the Pagans in Plainview was the recent defection in Philadelphia of several Pagans and Pagans associates to the rival motorcycle club. Lato told Magistrate E. Thomas Boyle that if all the Pagans went to trial it would be "the largest [federal] case in the history of Long Island." All but one of the Pagans have been held without bail pending further hearings. That defendant was released because of a severe case of colitis. If convicted, the Pagans each face a mandatory sentence of 20 years on the weapons and explosives counts.