And, then there were six defendants in the federal racketeering case about to be tried in Columbia, South Carolina. They are Mark William Baker, David Channing Oiler, Bruce James Long, Donald Boersma, Kerry Chitwood and Thomas McManus Plyler. The case started with indictments against 20 people. The trial starts Monday.
Judge Cameron McGowan Currie severed a seventh defendant, Carlos Hernandez, from the upcoming trial yesterday. Hernandez will stand trial alone starting on February 22. Currie also dismissed all charges yesterday against one of the original defendants in the case, Somying Anderson who is married to Bruce James Long. The case is now formally titled United States v. Mark Baker et al.
The narrative of the prosecution’s case is very tangled and screams entrapment. The criminal conspiracy in which the defendants are alleged to have participated may have begun in 2004, 2010 or 2011. The first named snitch in the case, a bar owner named Rodger ‘Screwy’ Totherow told investigators that he sold about 3.5 grams of cocaine to former lead defendant Dan Bifield in December 2009 but Totherow didn’t start working for the FBI until October 2010. The government claims it “will offer historical evidence, recorded conspirator statements, and party admissions that the narcotics conspiracy involving these defendants had been ongoing prior to the Government’s investigation – including evidence the co-defendants’ narcotics trafficking conspiracy was ongoing at least as far back as 2004….”
The government intends to supplement its case with visual aids, including the flowchart that illustrates this story. It portrays a neatly hierarchal, multi-club drug business with “Hells Angels” Mark Baker and the Bifields at the top. Defense attorneys have objected to this chart because it portrays a conspiracy which has not yet been proven but Judge Currie has blatantly rooted for the prosecutors’ for the last eight months. So, she will probably encourage the jury to memorize the visual aids.
The government begins its story of the crime on a smoldering, South Carolina Friday night, July 22, 2011 when Bifield and his wife Lisa, “after various calls and meetings,” sold an ounce of cocaine and three ounces of bath salts to “an informant.” The only paid informants active in the case at the time were two men of debatable veracity named Joseph Dilulio and Marty Deloach. The government has called this transaction “the first cocaine deal.”
Two weeks later “Lisa and Dan Bifield again arranged to supply one ounce of cocaine on August 5, 2011. Lisa failed in her attempts to obtain cocaine from her cocaine supplier, so Dan Bifield arranged to have his cocaine supplier (fellow Hells Angels member, Bruce Long) supply the ounce of cocaine. Bruce Long’s wife – Somying Anderson – delivered the ounce of cocaine to Lisa in the bar where Lisa worked, and Lisa in turn provided (the old school) to the informant. After the distribution of cocaine, the informant stayed long enough to speak to Anderson and Long (who entered the bar just after Anderson).”
Then, for whatever reason, the Bifields dropped out of the lucrative cocaine business. In other investigations with other informants, this has usually happened soon after the snitch asked something like, “Can you move weight.”
Bruce Long And David Oiler
According to the tale the prosecutors have announced they will tell the jury, Bruce Long stepped up. “Long began directly supplying (the) informant. On August 13, Long and the informant again met with Lisa and discussed past and future dealings in cocaine (as well as discussed laundering proceeds from trafficking in drugs that were to be stolen). Thereafter, on the following days in 2011, Long supplied the informant with the following quantities of cocaine: August 30 (2 ounces); September 19 (2 ounces); September 23 (2 ounces); October 18 (8 ounces); November 5 (8 ounces); November 30 (9 ounces); and December 16 (10 ounces). Then on February 6, 2012, Long attempted to obtain a half kilogram of cocaine but subsequently returned the $18,000 in cash paid by the informant after his attempt to obtain the cocaine failed.”
The unnamed informant continued to buy drugs with an unlimited supply of government cash. “In addition to Long, Hells Angels member David Oiler, a/k/a Gravel Dave, also supplied the informant with drugs. Oiler supplied both cocaine and methamphetamine of extraordinary purity on the following dates in 2011-12: December 9 (1 ounce of cocaine); December 13 (1 ounce of meth); December 23 (1 ounce of meth); January 10 (8 ounces of meth); January 31 (1 ounce of meth); February 14 (3 ounces of meth); and March 8 (3 ounces of meth). Oiler also discussed providing larger quantities on numerous occasions: for example, on January 31, Oiler explained that his supplier has 16 more ounces that were just like the 3 ounces of methamphetamine that he had supplied the informant earlier on that date. After explaining he could obtain a full kilogram of cocaine for $36,000, Oiler also made several attempts to supply cocaine that were ultimately unsuccessful, requiring Oiler to return the thousands of dollars of cash that had been paid: December 22-23 (1 kilogram of cocaine for $36,000); January 18-24 (1 kilogram of cocaine for $36,000); January 31 (1 kilogram of cocaine for $36,000); and March 1-2 (1/2 kilogram of cocaine for $18,000).”
Oiler And The Southern Gentlemen
According to a government brief filed on Monday, “Oiler’s primary supplier was Kerry Chitwood, a/k/a Gowilla. Chitwood and Oiler’s relationship dated back to their joint membership in the outlaw motorcycle gang, Southern Gentlemen (an outlaw motorcycle gang of which Chitwood served as an officer). Even after Oiler subsequently left to join the Hells Angels, Chitwood supplied drugs to Oiler. As captured through wiretaps and surveillance, Chitwood also supplied drugs to Hells Angels Chapter President Mark Baker, a/k/a Lightening, which Baker then distributed. Chitwood, in turn, was being supplied the high-quality methamphetamine by Carlos Hernandez (a man Chitwood had met in prison). In addition to methamphetamine, Oiler, Chitwood, and Hernandez also attempted to supply cocaine to the informant on several occasions. When Hernandez was unable to supply the cocaine, Oiler turned to another member of the Southern Gentleman, Ronald Byrum, a/k/a Big Ron. With Oiler, Byrum attempted to obtain cocaine (at one point, half a kilogram of cocaine was to be supplied to the informant and the other half of a kilogram was going to Chitwood). During the days leading up to that attempt (which was thwarted when surveillance by law enforcement was spotted), Byrum explained that he had seen multiple kilograms of cocaine, personally tested it, and sent Oiler a text message with a photograph of the cocaine.”
In the government’s narrative Hernandez, who just had his trial delayed, was the drug dealer who moved weight. Baker seems to have been targeted because he and Hernandez trusted each other.
The government would have jurors believe that word of the informant’s appetite for drugs and overflowing river of cash got around quickly.
Extra Pills In The Medicine Cabinet
“For example, on April 10, 2011, Frank Enriquez, a/k/a Big Frank, called the informant. After self-identifying as ‘Big Frank’ with the Hells Angels, Enriquez asked if the informant was still interested (italics added by The Aging Rebel) in Percocet pills, which Enriquez could supply for $6 each. The informant agreed and Enriquez advised that he would provide the pills to (Johanna) Looper that night when he attended ‘church’ (i.e., Hells Angels chapter meeting). Enriquez instructed the informant to arrange with Looper for the delivery of the pills. During a subsequent call, Enriquez explained that he had a longtime customer for part of his supply of pills but could obtain more next month. Enriquez also reassured the informant that he could trust Looper. The next day, April 11, Looper was driven to the informant’s store by Hells Angels prospect (Donald) Boersma (who was Looper’s boyfriend). There, Looper supplied the pills in Enriquez’s prescription bottle and accepted $300 for the pills and $40 for her assistance. Looper also discussed that Boersma was in the car and that Boersma would supply Hydrocodone from Boersma’s prescription, by which he obtained 90 pills on the 25th of the month (Boersma’s pharmacy records indicate he had been obtaining such pills in 2010, 2011, and 2012). Looper explained to the informant that Boersma sold his pills to everyone and provided the informant with the price Boersma charged.”
Looper pled guilty to racketeering conspiracy last month.
“Looper subsequently arranged to provide Boersma’s pain pills to the informant on April 25, 2012. After delaying the meeting to allow Boersma to pick up the pills, Looper subsequently called back and said that Dan Bifield told her she could not sell the pills to the informant. The next day, Baker agreed to find out what was going on for the informant and to determine why Bifield had forbidden the pill deal from taking place. Moreover, Baker agreed to obtain more pain pills from Enriquez for the informant, explaining that the informant could pay Baker for the pills. On May 22, 2012, Baker supplied Enriquez’s pain pills to informant in return for $540 for the pills and $60 for Baker’s assistance.”
Anyone with horse sense understands that an isolated $600 drug deal is a favor among friends.
The “informant” in at least some of these drug deals was Joseph Dilulio who was paid to gather information, who will testify against the people he set up and who will be paid a results dependent bonus when the case is over. After enticing his victims to sell him drugs at inflated prices, Dilulio offered them advice on how to hide the money he supplied. Eventually Dilulio tried to convince his marks into participating in a completely imaginary drug stick up. Whether he succeeded or not depends on whether you talk to Dilulio or one of the defendants.
The government explains:
“The drug conspiracy also included drugs that were to be obtained from the robbery of alleged drug dealers in New York. The stolen drugs were to then be sold in Canada, creating drug proceeds that would be laundered by members of the conspiracy (including Bifield, Baker, Long, and Oiler). As part of the drug conspiracy, conspirators supplied a variety of firearms they understood were to be used in obtaining drugs by armed robbery. Of course, the FBI and the informant did not actually arrange for an armed robbery of drug dealer to take place. Such stings are a common and approved investigative techniques to ferret out criminals and criminal organizations.
“The first armed robbery to create cash to be laundered by members of the enterprise was represented to have taken place in November of 2011. Previously, Bifield, Lisa, and Long supplied firearms to be used in this robbery of methamphetamine: July 21 (Lisa and Dan Bifield supplied pistol); August 5 (Lisa supplied two pistols); and September 28 (Long supplied assault rifle and pistol). On September 28, Long supplied a SKS assault rifle and a pistol. Additionally, Plyler supplied the informant with three pistols and a shotgun in September and October of 2011; at least some of those firearms had been supplied originally by Pryor to Plyler for sale to the informant. After the alleged robbery had taken place, the Bifields, Long, and Oiler laundered the cash that was represented to be the proceeds of the sale of the stolen drugs: November 29 (Bifield laundered $20,000); November 30 (Long laundered $15,000); November 30 (Oiler laundered $15,000); and December 22 (Bifield – with assistance from James Rhodus – laundered $30,000); December 23 (Bifield laundered $15,000).
“The second armed robbery was described as having taken place in February of 2012. Previously, Pryor had supplied more than twenty firearms on eleven days from November of 2011 through February of 2012, to be used in the robbery of five kilograms of cocaine. On January 5, Oiler supplied a machinegun with a silencer (which Oiler indicated he had used to shoot up some people earlier) to the informant for use in robbing drug dealers. After the alleged robbery was reported to have taken place, Baker laundered $15,000 in cash he received on March 1 that was represented to be the proceeds of the sale of the stolen drugs. Bifield also accepted $15,000 to be laundered on March 1, 2012, but failed to provide the clean money before being arrested, despite efforts from Baker to have Bifield provide the money.
“Yet another armed robbery was encouraged by Baker in early March of 2012 after he received the cash to launder from the second robbery. With Baker’s encouragement, Pryor supplied an AR-15 and a pistol on March 6, and another pistol on March 19, for use in another robbery. After Bifield failed to provide the laundered funds as agreed, efforts to continue the laundering and robbery sting was stopped.”
In other words Dilulio made up a story, begged his new friends for guns, gave them money to hold for safekeeping then took it back. When Dan Bifield, who did not like or trust Dilulio, held onto the $15,000 Joe handed him the investigation ended.
The escalation of this case, from a minor cocaine deal in South Carolina to transnational drug rips follows a familiar pattern in federal “stings.”
One thing that seems clear even before the trial starts is that a group of working class men in the deep South were contemptuous of America’s drug laws in exactly the same way that their ancestors were contemptuous of Prohibition. The government of the United States threw money at them to break those laws as the serpent tempted Eve and Eve tempted Adam. And, if the government is to be believed, its agents then concocted a fantastic story that the defendants believed because five years into the “economic recovery” they hoped for a windfall as most of the country still hopes for a windfall, as most of working class America will buy a lottery ticket today.
The government will portray these crimes as being somehow connected to the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club, the Red Devils Motorcycle Club and the Southern Gentlemen Motorcycle Club for the simple reason that motorcycle outlaws are glamorous and unafraid and free.
How the jury responds to the government’s tale will be affected by what the jurors have already been told by the Sons of Anarchy and the Laffing Devils, by dozens of mass media vigilantes like John Walsh and by a platoon of government approved propagandists like Kerrie Droban, Julian Sher and Jay Dobyns. The defense will attempt to challenge some of the assumptions the jurors will carry into court with the testimony of the sometime college professor and biker friendly expert witness William L. Dulaney.
The prosecution has already invested tens of millions in this case. For the defendants the stakes are higher.