The Forbidden Ones Motorcycle Club of Brooklyn, NY made the Daily News again today.
In June, the club was accused of working for a Brooklyn landlord who wanted to “terrorize tenants out of” his apartments. The Post, another amusing New York tabloid quoted an attorney for the tenants as saying, “The landlord has hired thugs to drive the tenants out of the building…It’s like the Hotel Altamont over there.”
The attorney, Thomas Hillgardner, was referring to a Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont Speedway near San Francisco in December 1969. A Hells Angel prospect named Alan Passaro stabbed a seven-foot-tall crank fiend with a gun named Meredith Hunter to death near the stage. The incident became the dramatic highlight of a film called Gimme Shelter and although Passaro was later found to have acted in self-defense the film footage has become a standard component of stories about the “motorcycle gang menace” in America.
It hasn’t been quoted in the Forbidden One’s case yet but the story is still new. Already the Daily News has labeled the club “The Grandads of Anarchy” and “leather-clad biker goons.” To see how journalism should really be done you can read the tabloid’s wonderfully unbiased account of the arrests here.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began investigating the club on October 21, 2010 after an ATF agent named Thomas Kalogiros turned a patched member of the club into a confidential informant. According to Kalogiros arrest complaint:
“The CI’s information has been corroborated by independent evidence including consensual recordings and observations by law enforcement. The CI has three prior felony convictions including convictions for burglary, grand larceny and excape. During debriefing the CI advised the government he has been involved in narcotics trafficking involving crack cocaine and discharging a weapon in connection with drug trafficking. The CI has also admitted to carrying out numerous stabbings while in prison, which ultimately earned him the Forbidden Ones’ ‘bangout patch….” The CI provided information to the government initially to reduce his state sentence. The CI continues to act as an informant in exchange for payment.”
A “bangout patch,” according to the government, depicts “two crossing handguns,” and signifies “that the member had assaulted or engaged in one or more confrontations with law enforcement.”
The investigation spilled over into two other Brooklyn clubs, the Dirty Ones MC and the Trouble Makers MC. The informant facilitated the sale of numerous firearms from members of the three clubs to four New York City undercover police officers acting as ATF Tactical Field Officers during the case. The Forbidden Ones kept a small cannon in their clubhouse (photo above) and that became part of the case too.
There is no indictment, only Kalogiros complaint, and as of noon Pacific Time the case has not been assigned a federal case number.
The men arrested yesterday were Scott “Spider” Brannigan, Nestor “Nesto” Cardenas, Miguel “Mike” Maisonet, Frank “Afro” Miranda, Samuel “Sammy” Moya, Jose “Rusty” Perez, Keith Terry and Jondale “Jay” Willis.” All eight men were arraigned yesterday afternoon before United States Magistrate Judge Roanne L. Mann at the U. S. Courthouse in Brooklyn.
Your Government Says
The official press release on which most news accounts are based announced, “Since approximately October 2010, the ATF Joint Firearms Task Force and NYPD Brooklyn North Gang Squad have been conducting a joint investigation into firearms trafficking by these motorcycle gangs. During the course of the investigation, ATF and NYPD undercover officers posing as gun customers purchased firearms, ammunition, and a cannon from the defendants, frequently at tattoo parlors operated by the gangs. During the firearms transactions, which were captured on video and audio recordings, the defendants sold two AK-47 assault rifles, armor-piercing ammunition, and other high-caliber weapons, including a Tec-9 9mm assault pistol; a Kel Tech 9mm folding rifle; a Taurus .410 caliber revolver, known as the “Public Defender-The Judge;” and a .243 caliber rifle with night vision scope, among others.”
“As detailed in the court filings, each defendant was a 1% patched member of his respective motorcycle gang. The defendants wore the patch to identify themselves as outlaws who reject main-stream society and live outside of the law.”
“The motorcycle gangs’ primary purposes are to preserve and protect the power and prestige of the gang, and to enrich its members through robbery, firearms, and narcotics trafficking. The gangs were also frequently involved in violent acts to collect debts, defend against rival gangs, and protect their turf.”
“If convicted on the sole count currently charged, the defendants each face a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment.”
Loretta E. Lynch, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York , was quoted as saying, “As set forth in the complaint, these defendants carried out their firearms dealing with no regard for the law or the safety of others. One defendant even stored the gangs’ explosive devices in his home, despite the fact that his wife ran a day care center at the same location. Proud of living outside the law, four defendants openly celebrated their prior confrontations with law enforcement. All are now confronted with the consequences of their actions. Violent biker gangs are not outside the reach of the law – no matter how many patches or tattoos they wear.”
New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly gloated, “The suspects should consider changing their names to ‘Busted Bikers’ after the outstanding work of the NYPD detectives and federal agents in this case, and by U.S. Attorney Lynch’s team in bringing it to court. We’re helping to keep New York safe by arresting and prosecuting those who carry, use, or sell illegal guns.”