A second defendant in the strange and secretive racketeering case against 16 members of the Kingsmen Motorcycle Club pled guilty Wednesday.
Thomas Koszuta pled guilty to RICO conspiracy and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. RICO is the whimsical acronym for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. It alludes to a fictional gangster named Rico Bandello, portrayed by the actor Edward G. Robinson, in a 1931 movie called Little Caesar and it is widely understood to be the crime of being a criminal.
The plea means Koszuta will spend at least 60 months in prison: which is 53 months more than celebrity and former Hells Angel George Christie got and 108 months less than former Mongols Motorcycle Club president Ruben “Doc” Cavazos got after he spent two years cooperating with authorities in a comparable case. Phil Fairbanks of the Buffalo News reports, “Koszuta will face a recommended sentence of up to 147 months in prison when he is sentenced.”
Koszuta’s plea deal is sealed. He will be sentenced by federal district judge Elizabeth A. Wolford on February 8, 2017.
He is the second defendant in the case to negotiate a plea and sentencing contract with federal prosecutors. Emmett Green pled guilty to RICO on August 8. He will be sentenced on November 9.
The Kingsmen prosecution is cloaked in secrecy and the secrecy seems to be more the result of prosecutorial gamesmanship than a legitimate concern for the safety of government informants.
The investigation of the Kingsmen by the Federal Bureau of Investigation appears to have begun sometime before March 2012. In June 2012, federal agents arrested Anthony Annatone Jr., a former Daytona Beach police sergeant and the vice president of the Kingsmen Daytona Beach Chapter on drug charges.
There were a series of incidents at Kingsmen clubhouses in New York in August 2013 that prosecutors allege were part of a power struggle within the motorcycle club.
Two Kingsmen named Paul Maue and Daniel “DJ” Szymanski were executed outside the Kingsmen’s North Tonawanda, New York Clubhouse in September 2014. Kingsmen Motorcycle Club member Andre “Li’l Bear” Jenkins was convicted of those murders a year ago and was sentenced to life in prison. An informant within the club incriminated Jenkins and told police where to find the murder weapon. Reportedly, Jenkins turned down a plea deal. Jenkins was, apparently, a member of the Daytona chapter when Annatone was arrested.
The FBI raided five Kingsmen clubhouses in New York in August 2015. The 16 Kingsmen were indicted in March 2016.
Defense attorneys have sought access to evidence held by prosecutors including the names of cooperating witnesses. Prosecutors have refused to disclose the names of cooperators and have been cautious about what evidence defenders are allowed to see.
On June 8, prosecutors loaned defenders flash drives that contained 1505 items of evidence on the condition that the defense attorneys “copy the data from the Flash Drive to your own computer network and promptly return the flash drive to us.”