Hells Angels claimed South Carolina as their territory, so tension mounted when the Outlaws, a rival motorcycle gang, founded a clubhouse in Rock Hill, S.C., according to testimony yesterday in a federal racketeering trial.
Michael Mariaca, a former "enforcer" for the Outlaws turned government witness, testified yesterday about efforts by the Outlaws to expand their territory and make a show of force against the Hells Angels at events in Virginia, South Carolina and elsewhere. The Outlaws also had a clubhouse in Petersburg.
Mariaca, also known as "M&M," testified in federal court in Richmond on the third day of the trial for four members of the Outlaws. One of the defendants, Leslie "Les" Werth, 47, helped recruit Mariaca to the club in 2002.
Also on trial are the Outlaws' national president, Jack "Milwaukee Jack" Rosga, 58; Mark "Lytnin'" Spradling, 52; and William "Rebel" Davey, 46. All four are charged with conspiracy to commit racketeering and conspiracy to commit violence in the aid of racketeering.
Mariaca, 50, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering and other charges and said yesterday that he hopes his cooperation with federal prosecutors will win him a reduced sentence. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Mariaca, sitting a short distance from Werth and his defense attorney, described a fight last year between Werth and a Hells Angels prospect at a bar near the Outlaws' Rock Hill clubhouse. The bar had become a hangout for Hells Angels who viewed the establishment of the Rock Hill Outlaws base as an act of defiance.
"There were some problems starting to arise from that," Mariaca said.
On May 9, 2009, about a dozen Outlaws rode to the bar, with Werth and Mariaca leading the way, Mariaca testified. Werth quickly dismounted from his motorcycle and punched a Hells Angels prospect, Mariaca said.
Meanwhile, Mariaca said, he tried to fend off another man who "had his hand on a weapon behind his back." Werth's gun dropped to the ground during the skirmish, and a woman who worked at the bar scooped up the weapon and took it inside, Mariaca said.
The Hells Angels prospect had a bloody nose from "a few good shots to the face," Mariaca said.
Mariaca described other cases over the past several years in which Outlaws showed up at motorcycle-related events, including in the Richmond area and the Tri-Cities, expecting to encounter Hells Angels or their allies. The Outlaws were determined to kick out their enemies, Mariaca said.
In some cases, bikers left without a fight when police stepped between the enemy gangs.
Mariaca also described a standoff between Outlaws and members of the Desperados, a gang that supported the Hells Angels, at the Cockades Bar in Petersburg. Jeffery Grabman, an undercover federal agent who posed as an Outlaw, was struck in the face with a bottle inside the bar during that encounter, and he had to get 14 stitches.
Outside the bar, armed Outlaws and Desperados who also appeared to be armed met in the parking lot for a standoff, Mariaca said. He said that he and Werth wielded handguns.
Grabman testified that a gunfight between the two groups was avoided because police arrived. "I was scared to death," he said yesterday during cross-examination by a defense attorney.
The four defendants are among more than two dozen members of the Outlaws and Pagans motorcycle clubs who were charged in a sweeping indictment in June.
Authorities allege that the Outlaws moved into Virginia in 2006 when the gang opened a Manassas chapter, with plans to expand in the state and battle with the Hells Angels in the Richmond area.
More than a dozen suspects have entered plea deals.