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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Pagans MC: Attorneys say new video shows cops started bar fight

Pittsburgh, PA (October 23, 2018) BTN — Four members of the Pagans Motorcycle Club were all charged after a brawl at Kopy’s Bar on the South Side earlier this month. They are Frank DeLuca, Eric Heitzenrater, Bruce Thomas and Michael Zokaites. New video was released by their attorneys on Tuesday.

Screenshot of the bar fight - Photo credit: KDKA

Before the brawl, you can see DeLuca reaching out to shake hands with undercover officers. “Our clients are minding their own business at the bar trying to ignore them.

Related |Pagans MC: The cops were drunk and started the fight

The officers are repeatedly going over, tapping them, touching them, trying to engage them,” said attorney Wendy Williams. The attorneys believe things escalated due to the amount of alcohol they say the undercover officers were drinking. “The main aggressor in this incident is seen drinking a fifth and a half of Jack Daniels in shots over the course of four to five hours,” said Williams. “One of the officers brandished a firearm.

He could barely stand. He was wobbly. Displayed a firearm to one of the defendants,” said attorney Martin Dietz. “After this melee occurred, all seen on video, my client was restrained by four, possibly six officers and punched in the face after hair being pulled back and neck being pinched over 23 times in face and head,” said attorney Lee Rothman.

 As for Thomas and Heitzenrater:

 “My review of video shows he took no aggressive stance, no aggressive actions and violently thrown to the ground unprovoked,” said attorney Thomas Will. “My client absolutely engaged in no aggressive behavior and he was what we call sucker-punched twice by an undercover detective,’ said Dietz.

 This case has been continued until Nov. 16.


Monday, October 22, 2018

Bacchus MC: Sentencing begins for club members

Nova Scotia, Canada (October 22, 2018) BTN — A justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court has reserved his sentencing decision in the case of three members of the Bacchus Motorcycle Club who have been convicted of extortion and intimidation.

In convicting Patrick Michael James, 51, Duane Jamie Howe, 49, and David John Pearce, 44, Justice Peter Rosinski also said that the Bacchus motorcycle club is a criminal organization, the first time that designation has been made in Nova Scotia.

The men were convicted in a trial this summer. The convictions stem from incidents in 2012 involving a man whose identity is protected by a publication ban.

The man tried to open a chapter of the Brotherhood Motorcycle Club in Nova Scotia. It is not an outlaw gang, but it uses vests and patches similar to those worn by outlaw riders.

Man ordered to disband club

When the Bacchus members saw social media posts of the Brotherhood club, they ordered the man to disband the club and destroy the patches. He was to provide proof by showing the shredded patches to Bacchus members.

Later, Pearce and Howe spotted the man at a Bikers Down event. They confronted and threatened him, prompting the man to sell his motorcycles and install a panic alarm in his home.

Sentencing arguments began Monday

In his sentencing submissions, Crown prosecutor Glen Scheuer argued that the criminal organization designation was one reason the sentences should be substantial. He recommended a five-to-six year sentence for James and four-and-a-half to five-and-a-half year sentences for Howe and Pearce.

Scheuer submitted photographs taken from Pearce's Facebook profile which show the man wearing T-shirts and sporting decals on his motorcycle that were supportive of motorcycle gangs.

Scheuer said the social media posts included the phrases "Police and government are very corrupt" and "All cops are bastards." 

Bacchus tattoo in police photos

Patrick MacEwen, Pearce's lawyer, said that wearing clothing that supports these groups is not a crime and the clothes are readily available for purchase by any member of the public.

MacEwen also said that Pearce is showing a Bacchus tattoo with the dates 2010 to 2012 in one of the photos introduced by police. MacEwen said any member who leaves the gang in good standing must put an end date on his tattoo and that's what his client did.

MacEwen and the other two defence lawyers also pointed out that all three men have avoided any further run-ins with the law in six years it has taken the case to make its way through the courts.

He recommended a sentence of six months for Pearce, who was the only one of the three to accept the judge's invitation to address the court.

"Ever since when this happened I do regret that it happened," Pearce said. The Crown had argued that all three men showed no remorse for their crimes.

Trevor McGuigan, the lawyer for James, recommended a two-year sentence for his client.

McGuigan said James has been taking care of his father and breeding rare dogs, while avoiding any further criminal activity. McGuigan said there was no physical violence in this crime.

Pat Atherton represents Howe. He said his client should be eligible for the shortest possible sentence.

Atherton said if it wasn't prohibited by case law, he'd be arguing that Howe get a sentence in the community. Instead, he suggested a one-year sentence would be sufficient.

He questioned a forfeiture order the Crown had requested, saying there was no proof some of the items seized from Howe's home were associated with any crime.

He mentioned a brass ring with a one per cent symbol on it. Gangs like Bacchus and the Hells Angels are known to use the one per cent symbol to identify themselves as the one per cent of motorcycle riders who are considered outlaws.

Rosinski will hand down his decision Nov. 7.


Friday, October 19, 2018

Finks MC: High ranking member pleads guilty to 1st ever order

Newcastle, NSW (October 19, 2018) BTN — Toast with beetroot and feta, a flat white, two months in jail and the state's first ever conviction for breaching a Serious Crime Prevention Order.

Former high-ranking Finks bikie Troy Vanderlight only ordered the first two when he sat down for a light lunch with the president of the Gladiators Port Stephens chapter at the Heritage Gardens cafe at Ashtonfield in August.

Police photograph Troy Vanderlight's Finks vest during raids earlier this year. 

But when Strike Force Raptor investigators got a tip-off, it turned out that the time in jail and the conviction for contravening the order, imposed by the NSW Supreme Court in April in an unprecedented attempt to put a stop to the Hunter's violent bikie “civil war”, were also on the menu.

Vanderlight was one of five Finks, as well as five Nomads, hit with the strict 12-month orders, which banned them from associating with any member of any bikie gang.

And ironically, Vanderlight was meeting with the Gladiator to discuss how he could attend a funeral without breaching the orders.

“He was breaching the orders to see how he could avoid breaching the orders,” Magistrate John Chicken said on Friday.

Vanderlight, 27, who police allege was the Newcastle president of the Finks outlaw motorcycle gang, and who twice had his house shot up during the tit-for-tat attacks earlier this year, had pleaded not guilty to contravening the serious crime prevention order and two other charges after his arrest outside the Ashtonfield cafe on August 17. He was due to face a hearing in Maitland Local Court on Friday, but pleaded guilty to contravening the order - the first of its kind in NSW - after prosecutor Benjamin Bickford agreed to withdraw the other two charges.

Mr Chicken said there was nothing to suggest the lunch meeting on August 17 was for a “nefarious purpose” and noted the conflict earlier this year had not involved the Gladiators.

Mr Chicken also said a discrepancy in the NSW Supreme Court orders meant he could not be satisfied that Vanderlight was the Newcastle president of the Finks. That fact reduced the objective seriousness of the offence and he ordered Vanderlight serve an 18-month community corrections order, the new equivalent of a good behaviour bond, that Mr Chicken said would test Vanderlight’s claims that he was no longer a member of the Finks.  

Vanderlight remains in jail, refused bail on charges of affray and participating in a criminal group relating to an alleged brawl with a member of the Newcastle Nomads in a car park of Charlestown Square in January this year.

And, despite serving his time for breaching the Serious Crime Prevention Order, Vanderlight might be destined to live under even more stringent conditions, with the matter listed again in the NSW Supreme Court next Thursday to vary the conditions against him. 

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