Both men were found guilty this summer in a trial that centered on the December 2017 assassination of Paul Anderson, president of the Pasco County chapter of the rival Outlaws Motorcycle Club. Anderson was shot repeatedly while his pickup truck was stopped in rush-hour traffic off the Suncoast Parkway.
Prosecutors said the killing was the culmination of a months-long campaign of violence that began with the beating of two 69′ers and the theft of their biker vests.
The story of the feud and the resulting criminal cases against five 69′ers has been widely told. Less discussed are the details of how such groups operate in the Tampa Bay area and elsewhere. Images and documents used as evidence in the trial offer a look at the inner workings of the 69′ers, a motorcycle club governed by strict rules, part of a subculture seldom glimpsed by outsiders.
In the hours after Anderson was murdered on Dec. 21, 2017, investigators from Pasco County and the federal government turned their attention to a modest house on Riverview Drive east of U.S. 41 in Hillsborough County. The home sits a few hundred feet north of the banks of the Alafia River.
Shaded by tall oaks, with a flagpole and mailbox out front, the house doesn’t appear much different from others in the working-class neighborhood near a large phosphate mine. But behind its walls investigators found biker vests, weapons, drugs and photographs of 69′er gatherings. A front garage housed a set of motorcycles.
A photograph used as evidence in the federal trial of Chrisopher Cosimano and Michael Mencher shows the bar area inside the clubhouse of the local chapter of the 69'ers Motorcycle Club. [U.S. District Court] [U.S. District Court]
A rear garage served as the 69′ers “clubhouse,” a headquarters for the local chapter they called “Killsborough.” Inside was a liquor bar with walls adorned with banners and posters featuring the menacing red-tongued wolf that is the centerpiece of the 69′ers logo. There are framed snapshots of members donning their vests, which bear the patches denoting their status as part of the “1%” — the small fraction of bikers who shirk society’s rules.
The men who pose in the photos are mostly white, though some appear to be people of color. Some make obscene hand gestures for the camera. In the trial, prosecutors showed a jury a nine-page constitution which outlines the national rules governing all local chapters of the 69′ers Motorcycle Club.
A photograph used as evidence in the federal trial of Christopher Cosimano and Michael Mencher shows the inside of the Hillsborough clubhouse of the 69'ers Motorcycle Club. [U.S. District Court] [U.S. District Court]
All chapters are overseen by a collection of officers known as “The Council,” according to the document. The Council meets twice a year. Their task is to maintain standards for all 69′er chapters.
The document details each chapter’s internal structure. It mandates four officers, including a president who must “rule with an iron fist,” vice president, sergeant at arms and treasurer. The constitution dictates that each chapter must be registered as a non-profit, and that a club accountant must file a tax return for the group each year.
“It is the responsibility of all officers to maintain their position with the highest level of respect for all members, property, family and employment,” the document reads.
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“Any member caught stealing from the club or banging another member’s old lady will be ejected from the club,” it states. “Old ladies are off limits.”
“Members shall not discuss club business with citizens,” the document states in large letters. “What’s said in the house stays in the house.”
A total of five men were charged with federal crimes related to Anderson’s murder. Three of them, Allan Guinto, Erick Robinson, and Cody Wesling, signed plea agreements. Guinto and Wesling testified against Cosimano and Mencher.
They were accused of following Anderson on motorcycles through traffic on the Suncoast Parkway and shooting him through the windows of his pickup truck as he stopped at a traffic light at the end of an off-ramp at State Road 54.
Cosimano and Mencher were both found guilty in August on charges that included murder in aid of racketeering.
SOURCE: Tampa Bay Times