The Times West Virginian

West Virginia

October 18, 2009

Investigators: Prosecution will hurt Pagans

CHARLESTON — By charging national leaders and more than 50 other Pagans Motorcycle Club members and associates with murder conspiracy, racketeering and a host of other crimes, federal prosecutors are attempting something even the Hells Angels have never managed: beat the Pagans badly enough to loosen their grip on the outlaw motorcycle world in the eastern U.S.

“That’s going to devastate that organization,” Bill Dulaney, an outlaw biker turned assistant professor at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C., said of the Oct. 6 indictments issued in Charleston.

“The Pagans are not a large organization.”

Not too many years ago, the Pagans ranked among the outlaw motorcycle world’s so-called big four. Then came a series of racketeering cases in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh that helped keep the club to about 400 full-fledged members.

While rivals such as the Hells Angels get credit for operating sophisticated rackets, investigators describe the Pagans more as a group of blue collar working stiffs. A string of recent court appearances tend to back that up: the club’s top officer owns a construction company, while other members work as truck drivers, electricians, welders, even a school bus driver in West Virginia.

They have, however, retained their reputation as one of the toughest and most violent biker gangs.

The latest indictments in Charleston accuse club president David “Bart” Barbeito, vice president Floyd “Diamond Jesse” Moore and others of running a sprawling organization engaged in kidnapping, robbery, extortion, conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes in an effort to be the pre-eminent biker gang in the eastern United States. Barbeito and Moore have been deemed to dangerous to release until trial, along with several other members named in the indictment.

“They’re a very old-school, intimidation-based motorcycle gang,” said Steve Cook, executive director of the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators Association. “They’re ruthless. They’re a violent, violent group.”

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