William J. Hochul, Jr., the United States Attorney for the Western District of New York, finally dismissed the racketeering indictment against members of the Chosen Few Motorcycle Club.
The indictment has been hanging over the heads of 18 members of the club for 31 months since May 2009 when most of the accused “racketeers” were rounded up in a series of paramilitary raids. The case began with an indictment on March 17, 2009. The lead defendant in the case was Chosen Few President Alex “Al” Kotschuk.
The original and superseding indictments culminated an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. The investigation centered around an on again, off again dispute between the Chosen Few and two other upstate clubs named the Kingsmen Motorcycle Club and the Lonely Ones Motorcycle Club.
According to the indictment, “Beginning sometime in 2003, the exact date being unknown, the Chosen Few and a rival motorcycle club, the Lonely Ones Motorcycle Club of Blasdell, New York had a dispute which the officers and members of the Chosen Few attempted to win.” The indictment listed multiple accusations of threats, assaults and arsons.
Before the indictment, the Chosen Few was best known for sponsoring an annual Bikes and Blues Festival.
Forcing Plea Deals
As is true with all racketeering indictments against motorcycle clubs, the case was never supposed to go to trial. The government held the charges and the threat of decades-long imprisonment over the accused men’s heads like a broadsword. In the usual scenario, defendants plead guilty to racketeering and usually minor, sometimes non-criminal. “predicate charges.” As is also true in racketeering indictments against motorcycle clubs, the prosecution hid any evidence to support the allegations for years. In this case, the Chosen Few defendants had competent council.
As is also true in most racketeering indictments against motorcycle clubs, the government misled grand jurors when seeking the indictment. Over the last several months the government has stubbornly refused to release information about their manipulation of the grand jury. The case was largely based on incriminating statements made by a government informant named David Ignasiak.
One member of the Chosen Few was actually convicted of a crime during this long drama. Chad Koschuk, the son of the lead defendant in the case (he spells his name differently than his father), was convicted of threatening a witness in July 2010. Chad Koschuk had run into Ignasiak at a convenience store the previous September and had threatened “to forcibly sodomize the witness because the witness had provided information to the FBI about his father and testified before the Grand Jury about his father.” Chad Koschuk was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison in November 2010.
Ignasiak accused another Chosen Few member of pantomiming a gun with his hand and waving that at him in a threatening manner. A judge later ruled that the informant was provably not where he claimed to have been when the Chosen Few member was supposed to have waved at him.
After his credibility was called into question, the informant said the Chosen Few were liars not him. “That’s the Chosen Few way – blame someone else. But this time, it won’t work,” Ignasiak told the Buffalo News in August 2010. “If anybody is saying untrue things, it’s them. . . . The telltale day will come in the courtroom – not just from me, but from an abundance of people.”
Oh, Never Mind
That never happened. The Department of Justice released the following statement Saturday afternoon:
“U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that the Government applied to dismiss the presently pending Indictment in U.S. v. Kotschuk, et al., without prejudice, based upon recently received information. Chief United States District Court Judge William M. Skretny granted the Government’s application.
“‘Our Office moved to dismiss the presently pending Indictment in U.S. v.Kotschuk, et al. in light of information that recently came to light,’ said U.S. Attorney Hochul. ‘Judge Skretny granted our application without prejudice.’”