The Outlaws case in Philadelphia is starting to look like a George V. Higgins novel – overflowing with colorful cynics caught between the feds and a hard place.
The Philadelphia Outlaws, who used to be the Philadelphia Warlocks, became the target of the FBI’s Organized Crime/Labor Racketeering Squad. The Bureau successfully used an informant – a Confidential Human Source in FBI-speak – to initiate a dealer sized methamphetamine deal last January. The informant, who has not yet been named, was a probationary Outlaw. There is no reliable indication whether the FBI turned the snitch before or after he became a probate. The case agent in charge of the investigation is Kathleen A. O’Hanlon
Two Outlaws were arrested in the case last February. Ronald L. “Bugs” Sells, the President of the Philadelphia chapter of the Outlaws, was charged with selling more than a kilo of methamphetamine to the probate informer. Michael James “Maniac” Privett, a patched member of the club, was charged with “collection of extensions of credit by extortionate means.”
Sells agreed to plead guilty on March 28. He agreed to a sealed plea deal on May 3. Privett agreed to a plea and sentencing agreement sometime before April 3. That agreement is also sealed. Privett was released from jail on April 3. Sells is still locked up. Both Sells and Privett will be sentenced on August 6.
Meanwhile two entirely different guys were indicted on April 17 for crimes that are identical to the crimes with which Privett and Sells were charged – which boil down to selling a package of crank and using threats of violence when the buyer did not pay. It is a familiar plot in numerous dramas from Miami Vice to Magic Mike.
Those two men are Joseph “Timber” Malcolm and Robert “Rob” Mansfield. Their connection to the American Outlaws Association, if any, is unclear although a participant named “Rob” is mentioned in the case against Sells and Privett.
The April indictment accuses the two defendants of distributing 821.9 grams of “a mixture and substance containing a detectable amount of methamphetamine, a Schedule II controlled substance” and conspiring “together and with others known and unknown to the grand to knowingly use extortionate means to collect and attempt to collect extensions of credit.”
The two men are accused of enlisting “the services of Michael Privett, charged elsewhere, to threaten Ronald Sells and Person #1 (the Confidential Human Source) and attempt(ing) to collect payment of this debt by extortionate means. At the time, Privett was the Warlord of the Philadelphia Chapter of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club.”
Van Smith of the Baltimore City Paper has been covering this drama since February. You can read his latest story here.
Smith has been trying to establish a connection between Privett and a certain Michael Privett who patched into the Chosen Sons Motorcycle Club in 2008. The Chosen Sons is a widely known cop club with chapters in Maryland. A fictionalized version of the club was featured in a January 1995 episode of the television series Homicide: Life on the Street. (See the video below.) That series was inspired by a book written by David Simon, who has his own fascination with the underside of police work and went on the create the HBO series The Wire.
Norman Stamp, a senior member of the Chosen Sons, died at that patching in ceremony at a strip club after he was shot by a uniformed Baltimore cop named John Torres.
The City Paper’s Smith believes the two Privetts are the same man. The Aging Rebel has been unable to substantiate that connection but in this case anything is possible.