Judge detains Pagans motorcycle club president
October 15, 2009
By Andrew Clevenger, Staff writer
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The national president of the Pagans Motorcycle Club will remain in custody while awaiting trial, a federal judge decided Thursday.
David K. "Bart" Barbeito, 49, of Myersville, Md., is one of 55 members and associates of the gang named in a sweeping, 44-count indictment unsealed last week. Prosecutors say Barbeito and other members of the group's ruling Mother Club led a criminal organization that controlled territory from New Jersey to Florida through violence and intimidation.
Stanley Needleman, Barbeito's Baltimore-based attorney, urged U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary E. Stanley not to get caught up in the outlaw biker mythology that surrounds motorcycle clubs.
Barbeito is a law-abiding, highly skilled professional who runs a successful construction business, not a renegade outlaw on a Harley-Davidson hell-bent on mischief and mayhem, Needleman said.
"He pays income tax. This is not a rolling stone," he said. "If he's a free spirit, then he's a free spirit. That doesn't make him a criminal."
Needleman acknowledged that Barbeito has been president of the Pagans since 1989, and participated in two Pagans events a year, he said.
"He's never going to run away from that. He has never done anything wrong," Needleman said, pointing out that Barbeito has no criminal record to speak of.
An Apache helicopter accompanied the FBI agents who searched Barbeito's compound, located less than five miles from the presidential retreat at Camp David, he said. The compound is gated to secure the expensive machinery, such as dump trucks and backhoes, that Barbeito uses in his business, he said.
Barbeito and his family can walk out of their door and hunt wild turkeys, which explained the 18 guns that agents found, he said.
Agents found four bulletproof vests; Barbeito and his children wore them when they hunted, Needleman said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Loew said the government does not believe that the guns, which included five handguns, one with the serial number removed, were used exclusively for hunting. He reminded the judge that one of the counts in the indictment alleged that another Pagan member who was a violent felon illegally wore a bulletproof vest.
"A deer don't shoot back," he added in response to Needleman's assertion about wearing the body armor while hunting.
Loew argued that as Pagans president, Barbeito could order his underlings to obstruct justice by intimidating and retaliating against witnesses.
"There are a lot of Pagans who are detained, but there are a lot more who are out there," he said.
FBI Special Agent Chris Courtright testified that Barbeito traveled to South Charleston in June 2003 to deal with a mini-rebellion by Charleston members who wanted to leave the gang. Barbeito told an unnamed confidential informant to guard the Charleston bikers with a shotgun while he and other Mother Club members questioned them individually, he said.
Needleman described the incident as a "mediation." Barbeito expelled the local members for selling speed, which was against club rules, he said.
In an unexpected move, Loew called William Grayson, who has been sitting in the gallery for several days while various defendants have had hearings, to testify as a witness.
Grayson is not named in the indictment. His brother, Michael "White Bear" Grayson, faces state kidnapping charges.
William Grayson said he was only there to help post bond for his brother. He did not want to proceed without an attorney, but Stanley instructed him to testify.
"Mr. Grayson, your obligation is to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," she said. If he felt he could not answer a question without incriminating himself, he should invoke his Fifth Amendment right, she said.
Grayson initially declined to say whether he was a member of the Pagans. Eventually, he acknowledged membership and that he was convicted on two counts of committing a violent crime in aid of racketeering following a 2002 clash between the Pagans and the Hells Angels.
According to news accounts, between 80 and 100 Pagans, many from Maryland and Pennsylvania, brawled with members of the Hells Angels in a Long Island catering hall that was hosting the Hellraisers Ball, a tattoo and motorcycle expo.
One member of the Pagans was killed, and 73 were arrested, Loew said. Floyd B. "Diamond Jesse" Moore, a St. Albans resident who is the Pagans national vice president, was one of the first to charge into building, he said.
Moore has likely lost his position because he is in custody, Grayson said.
"He's retired because he's locked up," he said.
"And you took his place?" Loew asked, but Grayson refused to answer.
Grayson also refused to say if he and his brother had ever been members of the Pagans' Mother Club.
"I feel that some way, somehow, that could be used against me somewhere down the road," he said.
Barbeito, Moore and the other defendants' trial is scheduled to begin on Dec. 15.