The Pagans are having a bad month. The former club president and a former chapter president were sentenced to prison last week and the prosecutor who put them there claims the club isn’t very dangerous anymore.
A Pennsylvania judge named Debra Pezze sentenced former club president Dennis “Rooster” Katona to 40 to 80 months in jail after finding him guilty of drug possession with intent to distribute. Police found about three ounces of cocaine and three ounces of methamphetamine in Katona’s bedroom after a 30-man Swat team raided his home in June 2011. Police alleged the drugs had a street value of $20,000. During his non-jury trial Katona’s lawyer, a man named Paul D. Boas, argued that there was no proof the drugs belong to his client. Apparently, Judge Pezze thought there was.
During the long buildup to Katona’s trial his lawyer claimed the former Pagan president had been entrapped by a Pennsylvania State Trooper named Robert W. Stauffer. Boas also accused prosecutors of hiding evidence that could clear his client. Katona spent a year in jail, was unable to work and eventually went broke. Not long after that, he and his wife Sherri were sued by Verizon Communications Inc. for $5,388. While Katona was on home arrest a drunk driver named Ronald S. Thomas borrowed Katona’s car and hit a utility pole. Verizon then sued Katona for the cost.
Also last week a former Pagans chapter president named Raymond “Pete” Overly pled guilty to racketeering and was sentenced by a state judge named Chris Feliciani to three years in prison. Overly was indicted in 2008. The main charge against him was that he sold drugs at cost to other Pagans. Police alleged he ran a “Pagans drug trafficking network” that imported cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana from Atlanta then sold the drugs in Southwest Pennsylvania.
Overly was one of six Pagans charged after a three-year-long investigation, The other defendants were either sentenced to short prison sentences or probation.
Overly disappeared after he was indicted and turned up in Middleburg, Florida last May. Seventeen of the charges against him were dropped when he agreed to plead guilty. The prosecutor, Michael Ahwesh, admitted the case against Overly had problems. “The events occurred eight years ago,” he said. “Some of the witnesses changed circumstances. They are not in the best of shape, and a couple just disappeared.”
Ahwesh prosecuted both Overly and Katona and he made some unexpected remarks about the reputed criminality of the Pagans Motorcycle Club. He said the Pagans weren’t involved in any drug business that might have been conducted by Overly. Six years ago the grand jury alleged the Pagans “made money for the gang by selling drugs.” Last week Ahwesh told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Overly “was using Pagan prospects to deliver the drugs. None of those guys ever became Pagans.”
After Katona’s sentencing, the ever chatty Ahwesh told the Tribune-Review the Pagans weren’t the threat to law and order they were once alleged to have been. “They’re still around but not as active as they were,” the prosecutor said. “They’re getting old and not being replaced.”