Today is the 78th day since a Black Piston named Zachariah “Nas T” Tipton was shot by a still unnamed member of the Iron Order Motorcycle Club outside Nippers Beach Grille in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. There have been widely disparate accounts of the moments that bracketed the murder.
Numerous Iron Order members, including club president Ray “Izod” Lubesky, have insisted that the shooter acted in self-defense. In the most popular variation, an Iron Order prospect and an Iron Order patch holder, or two prospects, were set upon without provocation by six Black Pistons. A brawl ensued. One prospect was knocked to the ground, drew a gun as he arose and fired either five or six shots. It is unclear how many were warning shots. Tipton was shot in the side of the head with a shot that went completely through or he may have been shot on both sides of his head.
Other versions of the encounter do not matter to the police or Jacksonville State Attorney Angela Corey. They have been stonewalling Tipton’s family and the general public for the last eleven weeks. The shooter, by consensus, was an “active duty military” and so he is entitled to hero immunity. The Iron Order, according to statements made by the club’s officers, is comprised of about 50 percent police and about 25 percent military so in all confrontations with other motorcycle clubs the Iron Order gets the benefit of the doubt from the police. A police bulletin issued in North Florida the day after Tipton was murdered noted that Iron Order members’ accounts of the homicide were “very reliable” because the Iron Order spokesmen were cops.
The problem with the Iron Order’s credibility with police, and apparently states’ attorneys, is that it flaunts a double standard of justice.
The Iron Order, as opposed to most motorcycle clubs, is comparatively transparent. Loyal members yap like little dogs whenever anybody disagrees with them. Iron Order members were yapping the night Tipton died in a number of accounts. It is at least plausible, to believe that Iron Order members were at Nippers looking for trouble, that they provoked a fist fight by insulting Tipton and his companions and that the fist fight gave the Iron Order shooter an excuse to kill a man.
The Iron Order is also transparent because the club, at just ten years old with more than 4,000 members, has grown too large too fast to function as a coherent and closed society. Consequently, there are competing Iron Orders. The club has an election coming up and some dissatisfied members seek listeners both within and without the club.
Words, Words, Words
Club members have been particularly gossipy in the last few weeks. Lubesky and his loyalists seem to think that this page and the Facebook pages that exist to vilify the IOMC simply make things up. When he allows himself the grace to be merely condescending, Lubesky seems to think that what he calls the “hater pages” invent lies which I then, in my stupidity and journalistic naiveté, repeat. It doesn’t seem to occur to him that the “hater pages” and I sometimes share sources and that those sources are members of his own club.
Recently, for example, Lubesky and I had the following exchange:
“I have been told that Michael Crouse, International Sergeant at Arms for the IOMC, is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and Army CID in connection with the homicide of Zach Tipton in Jacksonville in late June. I believe, if I have been told about it, that if there were such an investigation both you and Crouse would know about it. Can you please deny that Crouse is under investigation for me? Is there anything else you want me to know?”
To which Lubesky replied:
“There is no investigation by any federal or military law enforcement agency regarding Michael Crouse or the Zach Tipton homicide. I believe you have another Facebook hater sending you false information. You are correct, we would definitely know if there were any such investigation. Michael Crouse has absolutely nothing to do with what happened in Jacksonville. We have a thousand or more active duty military at all levels including colonels. None of them is under ‘investigation’ by CID nor is the IOMC.”
Midnight And Ray
The problem is that a federal or military criminal investigation is a plausible explanation for the Jacksonville State Attorney’s silence. She could have simply whitewashed Tipton’s death a month ago. The real question is why she is stalling and the simplest answers are a federal or state grand jury or an ongoing military or federal investigation. And, a document that emerged from the murky depths of the great cyber swamp yesterday supports the argument that the Iron Order Motorcycle Club can be seen as a criminal enterprise. If other motorcycle clubs are criminal enterprises then why isn’t the Iron Order a criminal enterprise?
The document is titled, “My Brothers – The future of our club depends on you!” It is dated yesterday and it is putatively from the keyboard of Bob “Midnight” Cabral. Cabral is President of the New Bedford, Massachusetts chapter of the Iron Order. The Aging Rebel has not confirmed Cabral’s authorship. But, if the document is what it appears to be it should make its way into a grand jury room. The document contains long statements from, presumably, both Cabral and Lubesky. Grammatical, syntactical and spelling errors in some of the passages quoted below have been edited for clarity.
In one passage, discussing whether club members should or shouldn’t wear their colors at all times when on their bikes, Cabral writes:
“Oh yeah. The renegades aren’t wearing there colors! You know what? Fuck off. Worry about something else! I told my guys if you’re going to be in a hot area or your just out with your wife you don’t have to wear them. For the guys that know us you also know where some us live! I don’t see you riding by yourself with me thru New Bedford or Fall River!”
“On our FAQ page it clearly says we don’t follow ‘no fly zones’ and in my response to (The) Aging Rebel I went on record to say no such order was given to an IOMC brother. I hope you made your statement to your chapter as your recommendation and not a directive. There are way too many brothers including me who take offense that anyone would even think of this action and we’re
in Florida and many brothers in Jacksonville, Vero, Merrit Island, Daytona, Tampa, New Port Richey. With four black skulls hanging on my vest I can tell you it sure doesn’t sit well with me.
Gimme An R-I-C-O
Lubesky’s reference to “black skulls” is particularly incriminating. Multiple sources have told this page that the shooter who killed Tipton was trying to “earn his black skull.” The Iron Order’s black skulls are comparable to other awards in the motorcycle club world.
For example the indictment that led to the racketeering case United States versus Cavazos et al. reads in part:
“The objects of the conspiracy were to be accomplished in substance as follows:
“233. On October 7, 2007, in Palm Springs, California, defendants Cavazos, Munz, and Wilson issued a ‘Respect Few Fear None’ patch and a ‘Black Heart’ patch to a Mongols member as a reward for that member having engaged in a confrontation with a rival gang member on behalf of the Mongols in Indianapolis, Indiana.”
Why is it a federal crime for a Mongol to be awarded a “black heart” but irrelevant when Lubesky boasts of wearing “four black skulls?”
Both Cabral and Lubesky make reference to Iron Order members who left Lubesky’s club, formed an Outlaws support club then returned to the Iron Order. This raises the question of whether those dissident members could switch from being good citizens to outlaws then back to good citizens again simply by switching patches. Cabral argues that the dissidents quit the support club before it became a support club. But it would be interesting to know what an Assistant United States Attorney would make of this.
Midnight Cabral accuses Iron Order Nomad Craig “Playboy” Cabral of negotiating with a member of the Sidewinders Motorcycle Club, a club with chapters in New Bedford and Fall River, Massachusetts who some law enforcement officials have accused of having ties to the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, which at some times in some places disagrees with the Outlaws, with whom the Iron Order has long been at war, which can be connected to the confrontation that led to Zach Tipton’s death because Tipton’s club, the Black Pistons, is widely viewed as a support club for the Outlaws. It seems that the Iron Order plays the same politics in the same motorcycle club world as everybody else.
Izod Declares War
The most incriminating passage in Midnight Cabral’s email reads:
“While you were busting my balls about that, let’s see if you remember we had a meeting with Izod on the phone when we were in the Fall River club house and declared war on the Sidewinders. Bet not too many know about that one. And I said I was going to take a roll call to see who was in. What did you say? Oh I can’t go! I have a Barry Manilow concert to go to! This from a Nomad? Really! After the International President just declared war?
“The only one at that time from your Liberty chapter that was all in was Freon! (Bob “Freon” Souza is an Iron Order Nomad from Fall River.) He’s always in! I had zero members from there! And let me see. I also remember one time after that when Izod came to Massachusetts and was at the Liberty crew club house. I sat down with him and came right out and asked him why I had no members from Liberty and how Playboy couldn’t go.
Putting The Work In
“You can check with Brewski about it. (Brewski Palumbo is an Iron Order member from Swansea, Massachusetts.) He was right there when I asked. You know what I got for an answer? Nothing! Then it was, “Gee not sure why.” Really? It seems that when we’re doing the dirty work were okay but when we question people or don’t just follow then the shit talk starts.
“Izod I can understand if something doesn’t sit well with you but some times I don’t think you get all the information. As far as the black beads you stood up for it and I commend you for it! But I can tell you there are a few that sat in cars and never even got out that have them. Oh yeah, you Playboy also stated you always ride with your cut on. Hope so. But the facts are you pretty much don’t ride unless you have four or more. And let’s face it, you work in the country and who the hell sees you? The squirrels? Also you’re always posting pictures at bike things going on in Florida and I never see a cut on? Why is that? Hmm. I can recall some one else that does the same thing just within the last three months. Also why is it if you post your opinion about something or who your going to back for the vote you get phone calls and shit talk starts! And you get harassed about it. What the fuck is up with that? How do you think that helps anybody? You can always tell when Playboy’s on a mission because he will post something on the forum and like two minutes later Izod will post something. Now what are the chances that both of you are on the forum at the same time? Or, you get the phone calls! Now maybe both of you can explain to me when we just went to one of the bigger bike events in Boston and I want to guess we probably had 80 of us when we got to the event. Ask Cuddles. He had a good idea on how many of us were there. Then the run takes off and we had decided to skip the run and go to the end. So when we did there were about 20 of us and that includes maidens! We where out numbered at least four to one with outlaws and all their support clubs! Where were you and everybody else? The thing is this it’s not your club. It’s our club. It takes all the members to be a great club and we are a great club. But we need to make it better. This bullshit has to stop! This personal agenda crap and back door bullshit has to stop! Everyone needs to work together! I shouldn’t have to defend myself for following the bylaws and doing things the right way!! But it seems that I have to! Well this is dear to my heart! I hope that this great nation can understand and see what I am talking about. The crews that know the renegade crew know we don’t fuck around and we tell it like it is and if we are wrong we take it also! This is my own opinion and facts stated are from me and not my crew. Like I stated before I put my patch on the line for my crew and what’s done to them!”
The Iron Order, very many club veterans are now muttering, has security problems.
How many more of these sorts of things are going to have to surface, one wonders, before the Iron Order has legal problems, too.