The Pagans Trial

March 21, 2012

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The ATF may finally be about to lose a biker case. The two year, five month long morality play that is still called United States of America v. Barbeito et al. has finally gone to trial.

The Barbeito case originally had 56 defendants. The case would have had 57 defendants but a SWAT team killed James Marcus “Jimbo” Hicks, Jr. during a brutal, dawn, indicia search that was Rambo-esque even by ATF standards. The heart of the racketeering case was the extravagant accusation that the Pagans Motorcycle Club was a racket because the club had sold tickets for a chance to win a motorcycle and that members then transported the proceeds across state lines: For example from Camden across the Walt Whitman Bridge to Philadelphia.

The Pagans case was intricately, though secretly, intertwined with the West Coast Mongols case U.S. v. Cavazos et al. It is undeniable that the Pagans prosecution would not have been possible without information gathered and manufactured during Operation Black Rain. As in Cavazos the United States Attorney, here a heartless bureaucrat named Steven Loew, sought the forfeiture of the Pagans collective membership marks. As in every other motorcycle club case the government relied heavily on the mostly phony expertise of the ATF and the intelligence of two snitches: Wes Hudnall and James “Pagan Ronnie” Howerton. Hudnall is now dead. Unlike Cavazos, Barbeito deflated rapidly.

Fighting For The Accused

The Barbeito case was always mostly fictional but it still might have become a government success were it not for the intelligence, diligence and moral outrage of a lawyer named Deirdre H. Purdy. Purdy clearly gets how motorcycle club cases work. She cares abvout her client and she also has the astonishing ability to make her fellow attorneys care about theirs. Her client is a Pagan named Richard Timothy “Lucky” Weaver.

Weaver and Elmer Luke “Tramp” Moore are the two Pagans who went on trial this week. Moore is also ably represented by Carl J. Roncaglione, Jr. The men are charged with two counts from the superseding indictment filed on February 4, 2010. Count 19 alleges “conspiracy.” Count 21 alleges that Weaver and Moore were “employed” as armed bodyguards for a convicted felon.

Through their attorneys Weaver and Moore contested the idea that belonging to a motorcycle club is the same thing as being “employed” by one. They, and four other defendants named Kim Berryman, Steven Knight, Brian Mitchell, and Michael Phelps were accused of carrying firearms on behalf of former Pagans Vice President Floyd Moore. Floyd Moore is a convicted felon who is prohibited from possessing a firearm. Elmer Moore is Floyd Moore’s son.

What Is Employment

The federal law Elmer Moore and Richard Weaver are accused of violating reads: “It shall be unlawful for any individual, who to that individual’s knowledge and while being employed for any person described in any paragraph of subsection (g) of this section, in the course of such employment – (1) to receive, possess, or transport any firearm or ammunition in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce; or (2) to receive any firearm or ammunition which has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce.”

Purdy, Roncaglione and the other attorneys moved for dismissal partly on the grounds that the accused men were not “employees” of Floyd Moore but members of the Pagans. District Judge Thomas E. Johnston said belonging to a club is not the same as being employed by that club and dismissed those charges. But the prosecutor, Lowe, appealed Johnson’s ruling to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Purdy and the other defenders argued that the right to possess firearms is a “core right” and that it is the right of every “law-abiding, responsible citizen to possess and carry a weapon for self-defense.”

The appeals case was argued last September, decided a month later and not fully resolved until earlier this month. Succinctly stated, what happened was that the Fourth Circuit ruled that a person need not receive wages or compensation to be legally “employed” – as Uncle Remus was legally “employed” by Master John. Judge Johnson dismissed the charges against Berryman, Knight, Mitchell and Phelps and set a trial date for Weaver and Moore.

Sons Of Anarchy Syndrome

Purdy and Roncaglione filed a number of pretrial motions that should be standard in racketeering accusations against motorcycle clubs but unfortunately are not.

Purdy filed a motion to stipulate her client was in fact a member of the Pagans in order to prevent the introduction into evidence of numerous photographs of Weaver wearing a Pagans cut. “The evidence is…prejudicial under Rule 403 in that the cuts and colors (vests and patches) have numerous associations in the popular culture (e.g., as seen in Sons of Anarchy, a current television series now in season 3, which shows numerous scenes of violence by individuals dressed similarly to Weaver in these photos),” Weaver’s lawyer wrote.

Previously Purdy had convinced Judge Johnson to excise the first paragraph of Count 19 from the charges against her client. That paragraph read, “The PMC (Pagans Motorcycle Club) was a criminal enterprise engaged in various types of violent criminal activity.”

More Motions

Last week she moved:

“The Government has previously used the terms, ‘gang,’ ‘outlaw gang’ and so forth monotonously in briefing and at oral argument to characterize the PMC as a criminal enterprise engaged in violent criminal activity.

“These terms are prejudicial in the extreme because they (unnecessarily) stamp the defendants and associates as ‘criminals,’ organized for the purpose of criminal activity. Richard Weaver has no criminal convictions in his life. He is not and has never been a criminal…the Government has produced not a scintilla of proof that this local chapter of the PMC engaged in any criminal activity as a group.

“The Government has also tried to bootstrap the PMC’s use of ‘outlaw’ to demonstrate that they disregard the law. Despite reiterated instruction and explanation that this is a joke because ‘outlaw’ actually refers to the one percent of clubs that do not belong to the American Motorcycle Association (AMA), the Government persists in their scurrilous use of the term to label these defendants as outlaws and therefore criminals.

“The Government’s use of the terms ‘gang,’ ‘motorcycle gang,’ ‘outlaws,’ or ‘outlaw motorcycle gang’ is a false characterization unsupported by evidence….”

Roncaglione moved that potentially incriminating audio recordings made by the now dead ATF confidential informant Hudnall should not be allowed as evidence because with his death they became hearsay.

Government Tries To Stall

Last Friday Lowe blinked. He moved for a continuance. Purdy and Roncaglione replied that the case has been going on forever already and their clients are entitled to a speedy trial. Judge Johnson agreed. So the jury was seated yesterday. Opening arguments were given and testimony by government witnesses began today.

The opening witness was ATF Special Agent Rob Cunningham. Judge Johnson did admit into evidence two of Hudnall’s recordings in which Weaver states “Its my job to watch after Floyd Moore.”

The second witness was a man named James Claypool who testified that Weaver did sometimes protect Floyd Moore. He testified about an incident in June 2007 when a drunk and loutish truck driver from Iowa named “Badger” broke into Floyd Moore’s residence and attacked Floyd Moore and his girlfriend with a baseball bat while the couple slept. Moore refused to press charges. Today Claypool testified that Weaver possessed a handgun immediately following the Badger incident.


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26 Responses to “The Pagans Trial”

  1. Dan the Man Says:

    If one can use “Sons of Anarchy” as evidence of biker “misbehavior” I wonder if the defense can use any one of the variety of crooked cop shows like “the shield”, and “the wire” to show how undercover cops are crooked sons of bitches.

    edit: hint there are far more representations of cops misbehaving in pop culture and there be but one measly biker show.

  2. BadMagic Says:

    Time to hire an off duty cop as a bodyguard……

  3. DirtyBruin Says:

    I don’t know what the initial motive for the law about being an armed bodyguard for a felon was – but it does seem like they’re now trying to employ it to put MC members at a disadvantage. If any member of their club happens to be a convicted felon, they can claim any armed member was acting as the felon’s bodyguard since club members defend each other.


  4. RVN69 Says:

    Big V,
    I can only wish you the best results in your current situation. No innocent man should have to fear for his freedom.

    Potius Mori Quam Foedare.

  5. BigV Says:

    Dear KK, RVN69, and Rebel: On another article’s comment section you guys offered me some encouragement and I was so rude as to not respond because I felt as though if I did would sound like a blubbering idiot. Things aren’t any better- the government just tries to wait you out and see how far they can go.

    But, the words of encouragement mean more than any of you can ever know. They also pointed out to me that real patchholders have gone through worse and they keep doing what they’re meant to do. They find the strength to keep their chins up and keep on. That’s what it means to be a man. You three in particular reminded me of that.

    I’m trying everyday to be worthy of being a “man” and worthy of respect.

    Either way this goes, I’ve stood up, shut up, lawyered up and I am innocent. I know innocence doesn’t count for anything, but I’m hoping it does.

    Either way, I won’t let them grind me into the ground.

  6. not-a-hippie Says:

    That’s great news. Thanks Rebel. I can’t win for losing in this county, so it’s good to see someone winning somewhere.

    The lawyer’s SOA reference–lol. Hard for me to imagine those actors getting grease on their hands, much less blood, but I get it.

  7. Caretaker Says:

    Sled tramp-
    Don’t remember what I said,but thank you

  8. Glenn S. Says:

    Big V, you are absolutely correct. The government’s now common practice of twisting the meaning of words to suit their goals is one of its worst practices, and allows virtually any abuse.

    At some point, the government convinced most of the citizenry that they need not be strong–they have the government to be strong for them. Likewise, they don’t need to be smart, the government will do that for them too. So now a weak and ignorant citizenry takes it for granted that whatever the government does is both strong and smart. They say motorcycle clubs are gangs that employ their members? Well, they must know best. They say corporations are people? Well, they must be, because that’s what the government says.

  9. RVN69 Says:

    Big V,
    Undeniable truth.


    Potius Mori Quam Foedare

  10. sled tramp Says:

    Big V,
    VERY well said.
    On the nail.

  11. jrnr Says:


    THE absolute fucking truth!

    RIP Russell Doza and James Hicks and all the other innocent men, women and children either killed or terrorized by the government gestapo.



  12. KK Says:

    Big V: Nice to read your posts as usual, hopefully your doing better since the last time I wrote something here.

    “My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.” — Thomas Jefferson



  13. Shyster Says:

    Very well said BigV.


  14. BigV Says:

    This is the best chance to win a case against the feds, when MC’s are Enterprises(hell, when a bunch of nuts like Operation Rescue is an Enterprise) then words no longer manner and when words no longer manner, we’re fucked.

    You are not employed for or employed by an MC- you are a free man. If there is something you don’t want to do, you can leave. There are many members retired, and there are a small few who left in disgrace.

    As a member you aren’t a tool or a cog in wheel- you are a brother.

    The unfortunate reality is words don’t mean anything anymore. This means the words in the 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 14th Amendments don’t matter. It means Mr. Hicks died for our right to bear arms and slowly lower a shotgun to protect his oppressors from a weapon going off. He died for our 4th Amendment right that protects us from unreasonable search and seizure. He died for that fucked up, meaningless 14th Amendment, which is supposed to guarantee equal protection under the law, though the Constitution did so previously. Because Mr. Hicks rode a bike, rode with a club, and lived as a free man who was supposedly living in a nation with a constitution he died.

    57 Men had their lives ruined irreparably in this case. 27 in a case from WI to NC to SC to TN. God knows how many were ruined in Black Biscuit, Black Rain, and the current shit ongoing in FL, CA, GA, NV, and AZ.

    Words WERE, operative word being were, very important because they meant something. No one’s word means a damn thing anymore in citizen’s society. Because of their lack of honor, respect, and inability to hold together or protect one another, because of their inability to understand a concept like brotherhood- our Constitution has withered.

    The average citizen is too damn dumb to understand that it’s not an analogy- it’s a reality- that the signatories of the Constitution were an Outlaw Club- they just didn’t ride two wheels. I think Mr. Luke Moore and Mr. Weaver are in some pretty good company any way you look at it.

    My respect to all patchholders and those who’ve earned it, and everyone here be safe.

    -Signed: Loudmouth Idiot

  15. Hose-a 1% Says:

    I think it has finally come to pass where we can finally stick it up there ass.IT’s definatly time to give my brothers there lives back without all of the perscution from the alphabet army.It’s long over due.These lawyers are very much on the ball.Good luck my brothers hope you will be done with this bullshit soon.
    P.L.&R.Hose-a 1%er Pagan’s M.C.retired.F.T.F.

  16. anon Says:


    Thanks for the link. It’s really helpful and interesting. You can see the legalese in there with the dispute over “employed by” an “employed for.” I’m not a lawyer, so I may be off here. I would imagine that “employed by” is the typical notion of employment and that “employed for” is like an independent contractor. The blog post you linked brings this up as follows:

    “The court does not discuss the situation where someone is employed “for” (the statutory requirement) a person, but whose gun-related actions are not controlled by a person — for instance, if a felon contracts with a security company to provide him with a full-time bodyguard. In that situation, I would think that the bodyguard is “employed for” the felon, though not employed by the felon.”

    For labor law, it’s not so clear to me that “employed by” and “employed for” are the basis for the distinction between employees and independent contractors. Maybe it is. Again, I’m no lawyer. My guess is that this would be ruled as the basis for the distinction. There are some lawyers who post on here… it may be outside their expertise, but perhaps they have some insights to share.

    Even if the distinction is ruled irrelevant, there’s a remaining question about whether the employment is by/for Floyd Moore or the Pagans MC. If the Pagans MC is granted the statues of a “person” (which is possible if they are a legal corporation, and my guess is that they have incorporated in some form), then it would be damn near impossible to make the Pagans a “felon.” So, assuming the defendants were considered to be employed in a legal sense, the question remains whether they were “employees” of Floyd Moore or of the Pagans MC. It sounds like a critical defense issue is whether the defendants were “employed” by Moore or just members of the Pagans MC, which is unlikely to be ruled a felon by any court.

    This could be a much bigger case than it seems and have ramifications far outside the limited world of bullshit MC “conspiracy” cases.

  17. Rebel Says:

    Dear Anon,

    Purdy pushed the issue about as far as she could, to the Fourth Circuit. The libertarian, lawyerly website The Volokh Conspiracy ran a concise report on the ruling against Weaver and Purdy on March 7. You can read it here.


  18. KK Says:

    FBI spent over 2 years on this 24/7. Then they sent in two RATS to tape & follow Tramp & his Chapter 24/7. Then Loew wants a continuance so he can ruin more defendants lives (attornies fees, houses sold, jobs lost).

    Stay strong Tramp & Lucky!!!

    WV Fritz:I think we are in good hands with these attornies & a Judge who actually might look at the evidence or lack therof.


  19. anon Says:

    Purdy had an amazing op-ed piece two years ago that I found only after Rebel mentioned her name elsewhere on the site. It’s worth a read by everyone. The only sad part is that it seems to have been a bit premature.

    The employment issue seems crucial, and it would probably be wise to bring an employment lawyer onto the case even though the relevant law is criminal. Being paid by someone is not the same as being employed by them in a strict legal sense. Federal labor law, for instance, applies to employees but not “independent contractors.” A person you pay to fix things around your house is generally an independent contractor and not an employee, so you don’t – for instance – have to pay them overtime wages if they agreed to take the job for a fixed amount and it runs over their estimates. A stupid example that is true… professional wrestlers that you see on TV are not employees and are not protected by federal labor laws… they are classified as independent contractors. There have even been lawsuits over this.

    Even if the defendants were paid for protection services, they would likely be classified as independent contractors hired on an ad hoc basis rather than legal employees.

    If a lawyer pushed the issue, it could potentially have huge ramifications for both criminal and labor law in the US.

  20. Rebel Says:

    Dear Glenn S.,

    This prosecution was always very half-assed and a half dozen of the defenders have been quite good. The judge also seems to have a low tolerance for bullshit. And, I suspect the prosecutor is not the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree. The fact is that all of the defendants have been severely punished already by both the investigative and prosecutorial processes. It would be nice to have a jury recognize that this was and is a malicious prosecution. Most biker cases are prosecuted maliciously which just seems nuts to me. I think Weaver and Moore have a good chance at acquittal.


  21. neverwaz Says:

    “Purdy and Roncaglione filed a number of pretrial motions that should be standard in racketeering accusations against motorcycle clubs but unfortunately are not.”

    Stipulating the accused are members of a Club could prevent highly prejudicial images of them in their cuts from being paraded in front of the jury in all cases. The other motions related to the gov using unproven, unfounded and prejudicial terms to describe the Club these men belonged to, should be part of every defense too.
    Lack of money and a patchwork of defense lawyers and PD’s are an obstacle to a strong, organized case, and the feds have unlimited resources, but maybe someday soon the legal victories from this case (hopefully) can be used to reverse the ongoing organized attack on our liberties.

  22. Snow Says:

    Wishing the best of luck to the defendants on getting a NOT Guilty of all charges…

  23. RVN69 Says:

    We can only hope that justice actually does prevail in this case. Under any known definition of the 2nd amendment these men were legally entitled to posess the weapons they were carrying. Further they were licensed by the state to carry those weapons concealed. The presence of someone who is a “felon” who was not in possession of the weapons is irrelavent.

    Best of luck to the defendants

    Respect to the PMC

    Potius Mori Quam Foedare

  24. Glenn S. Says:

    Rebel: “The ATF may finally be about to lose a biker case.”

    Hope springs eternal, Rebel. But my inner cynic tells me never to underestimate a jury’s willingness to do as they’re told, no matter the convoluted logic required to do so. I got myself emotionally invested in the outcome of the Ablett case, figuring at least the RICO aspect would be rejected by 12 Americans.

    My stepdaughter is doing jury duty this week. I hope she’ll do me proud, but I really have no reason for thinking she will. She accused me of trying to kill her mother when I bought her mother a motorcycle last Christmas. She’s sitting on a jury in a case where some alleged drug dealer shot 4 cops, killing one, during one of those militarized SWAT team raids where the cops use shock and awe to try to create confusion, then call it murder when one of the confused victims of said raid picks up his gun to defend his home from all of those men in black with machine guns.

    Best of luck to the Pagan defendants. I look forward to following the case as it progresses.

  25. WV Fritz Says:

    Thanks for posting this Rebel. Good luck to “Lucky” and “Tramp” Hopefully Ms. Purdy and Mr. Roncaglione will sucessfully show the jury what fucking bullshit this case really is.

    The usual RATS (Floyd Moore and James Claypool) are at it again! Maybe Judge Johnson will charge them both with perjury charges for the bullshit they are going to spout on the stand… but I doubt that Loew will let that happen.

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