PITTSBURGH, PA (December 11, 2020)--– A federal grand jury in Pittsburgh has issued three separate, but related, Indictments, charging 30 residents of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio with narcotics trafficking and firearm possession, United States Attorney Scott W. Brady announced today.
According to U.S. Attorney Brady, the Indictments are a part of an ongoing investigation into members and associates of the Pagans Motorcycle Club (PMC or Pagans) operating in and around western Pennsylvania engaging in illegal activity, including federal violations of drug and firearm laws. The related Indictments are the result of an investigation that began in August of 2018, and ultimately led to a Title III wire investigation with intercepted communications over several telephones from August 2020 through November 2020. The defendants are alleged to have conspired to distribute controlled substances including cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin.
"For decades, the Pagans have used violence to control cocaine, heroin and meth trafficking throughout western Pennsylvania: that stops now," said U.S. Attorney Brady. "With the arrests of thirty members and associates of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, including higher-ranking members, we have disrupted their criminal organization and made western Pennsylvania safer."
"The members and associates of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club facing charges today had a complete disregard for the law and the safety of the communities they operate in," said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman. "Through joint, collaborative investigations and robust partnerships, we will continue to target the leadership of these organizations and bring them to justice for the harm caused by their criminal actions."
According to the Department of Justice, the PMC is a violent Outlaw Motorcycle Gang whose membership distribute cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, fentanyl, marijuana and other illegal drugs. The Pagans are one of the most prominent outlaw motorcycle gangs in the eastern United States. In addition to the PMC insignia, members of the PMC wear a diamond patch with "1%" inscribed inside, which denotes their claim to be among the one percent of motorcycle riders who are not law-abiding.
The surveillace video of a brawl between Pagans MC and members of the Pittsburgh police that took place at Kopy's Bar in Pittsburgh in October 2018. A statement from the Kopy’s bar owner who tended bar the night four Pagan motorcycle club members brawled with undercover officers appears to challenge how Pittsburgh police have described the fight. The attorney for one of the bikers charged in the brawl contends the police officers were drunk and started the fight because the cops didn’t like how the motorcycle club members were dressed. courtesy of TRIBLIVE
According to information provided to the court, the three Indictments charge 30 individuals with federal drug trafficking and firearms charges. The drugs they distributed include significant quantities of methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin. The Indictments are the result of this long-term investigation, including court-authorized wiretaps on the cell phones of key members of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pagans Motorcycle Club. The investigation, which was wide-spread, also resulted in identifying large-scale suppliers of narcotics not only to members and associates of the Pagans, but to local drug traffickers and suppliers within the Greater Pittsburgh Region.
During the course of the investigation, which began in August of 2018, law enforcement received information pertaining to the suspected illegal activities of Bill Rana, aka "Pittsburgh Billy", Eric Armes aka "Knuckles", Jason Evans aka "Shahid", and Patrick Rizzo, who have all been identified as suspected members or associates of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, as well as Phillip Bonanno, who has been identified as a suspected member of an Ohio Chapter of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, and others.
The PMC members routinely hold "church", a term used to describe their weekly meetings, on Thursdays. They also appeared to hold frequent, large gatherings or parties between PMC members/associates, non-PMC members, and other outlaw motorcycle gangs, at their McKees Rocks Clubhouse, which was one of more than a dozen locations where agents executed federally-authorized search warrants on December 8, 2020.
The three Indictments were returned under seal on December 1, 2020, and unsealed yesterday.
The first Indictment contains two conspiracy counts and one firearm possession count, and names the following nine individuals as defendants:
• Bill Rana, 40, of Cheswick, PA
• Eric Armes, 42, of Cheswick, PA
• Jason Evans, 44, of Pittsburgh, PA
• Hasani James, 49, of Detroit, MI
• Cody Bonanno, 25, of Uhrichsville, OH
• Phillip Bonanno, 54, of New Philadelphia, OH
• Dominic Quarture, 52, of Washington, PA
• Mark Stockhausen, 39, of Erie, PA
• Patrick Rizzo, 45, of McKees Rocks, PA
According to this Indictment, Rana, Armes, C. Bonanno, P. Bonanno, and Quarture conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance between January and November of 2020. The Indictment also charges Rana, Evans, James, P. Bonanno, and Stockhausen with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance, also between January and November of 2020.
The Indictment further alleges that on or about October 21, 2020, Patrick Rizzo, a convicted felon, who is prohibited from lawfully possessing a firearm, was found to be in possession of a loaded Taurus Judge .45 LC/410 pistol. As it relates to this count, the Indictment seeks forfeiture of the firearm and ammunition.
The second Indictment contains two counts and names the following nine individuals as defendants:
• Anthony Peluso, 38, of Hampton Township, PA
• Marissa Botta, 28, of Hampton Township, PA
• David Pietropaolo, 23, of Glenshaw, PA
• Thomas Snelsire, 45, of Baldwin, PA
• Wayne Webber, 42, of Duquesne, PA
• Ronald Simak, 37, of Verona, PA
• Anthony Scatena, 22, of Pittsburgh, PA
• James Stewart, 41, of Pittsburgh, PA
• Dorin Duncan, 42, of Glenshaw, PA
According to this Indictment, the above-named defendants conspired to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance between January and November of 2020. The Indictment further alleges that Peluso, Botta and Snelsire also conspired to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 100 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, also between January and November 2020.
The third Indictment contains two counts and names the following twelve individuals as defendants:
• Jeffrey Kushik, 29, of Pittsburgh, PA
• Gary Hairston, 40, of Pittsburgh, PA
• Darian Wofford, 27, of Pittsburgh, PA
• Stephanie Zilka, 27, of Baldwin, PA
• Misty Walker, 39, of Pittsburgh, PA
• Richard White, 18, of Pittsburgh, PA
• Randy Camacho, 34, of Pittsburgh, PA
• Damian Cherepko, 26, of Elizabeth, PA
• Brandon Hulboy, 29, of Pittsburgh, PA
• James Crivella, 27, of Glenshaw, PA
• Seaira Collins, 32, of Pittsburgh, PA
• Jessica Taranto, 37, of Pittsburgh, PA
According to this Indictment, Kushik, Hairston, Wofford, Zilka, Walker, Camacho, Collins, and Taranto conspired to distribute and possess with the intent to distribute 500 grams or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of cocaine, a Schedule II controlled substance between August and November of 2020. The Indictment further charges Kushik, Hairston, Wofford, Zilka, Walker, White, Cherepko, Hulboy and Crivella with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute one kilogram or more of a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of heroin, a Schedule I controlled substance, also between August and November of 2020.
As to the conspiracy counts involving 100 grams or more of heroin and 500 grams or more of cocaine, the law provides for a minimum sentence of five years’ and a maximum sentence of 40 years’ imprisonment, a fine of not more than $5,000,000, or both. As to the conspiracy count involving 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and one kilogram or more of heroin, the law provides for a minimum sentence of 10 years’ and a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, a fine of not more than $10,000,000, or both. As to Patrick Rizzo the law provides for a maximum sentence of imprisonment of 10 years, a fine of not more than $250,000, or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offenses and the prior criminal history of each defendant.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation led the multi-agency investigation of this case, which also included the United States Postal Inspection Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office, Pennsylvania State Police, Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, and the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General Bureau of Narcotics Investigations. Other assisting agencies include the Allegheny County Police Department Homicide, Baldwin Police Department, Brentwood Police Department, McKees Rocks Police Department, Stowe Township Police Department and West Deer Township Police Department.
This prosecution is a result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. OCDETF identifies, disrupts, and dismantles high-level drug traffickers, money launderers, gangs, and transnational criminal organizations that threaten communities throughout the United States. OCDETF uses a prosecutor-led, intelligence-driven, multi-agency approach that leverages the strengths of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies against criminal networks.
Assistant United States Attorney Rebecca L. Silinski is prosecuting these cases on behalf of the government.
An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
A video announcement regarding this case can be found here: https://youtu.be/iWAof7-KgLA
Last year the state of New Jersy began a large investigation of the Pagans. Video courtesy of NJ Spotlight News