As part of a long-term investigation into the Pagans Motorcycle Club in Western Pennsylvania, FBI agents got permission to tap 10 phones.
Over a period of several weeks, they said they heard members of the Pagans, their suppliers and sources talk about the kind of heroin they were selling; where they store their drugs for sale; people cooperating against them; their drug debts and where to get better prices for their cocaine supply.
On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Scott Brady announced that 30 people from Western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio have been charged with drug trafficking and weapons possession as part of that investigation.
“For decades, the Pagans have used violence to control cocaine, heroin and meth trafficking throughout Western Pennsylvania: That stops now,” Brady said. “For decades, they avoided prosecution, until today.”
Three separate indictments were returned on Dec. 1 and unsealed Tuesday. All 30 defendants have been arrested, Brady said, following arrest and search warrants that were served on 11 locations Tuesday — including the group’s clubhouse in McKees Rocks.
In all, the prosecutor said, some 300 law enforcement officers and seven SWAT teams participated in the arrests and searches, which yielded large quantities of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and fentanyl. Also recovered were 10 Rolex watches, jewelry and $28,000 in cash, Brady said.
According to Brady, these are the most significant indictments of a motorcycle gang in this district since the mid-1980s.
Brady called the Pagans one of the big four outlaw motorcycle clubs in the country and also one of the most violent. They have about 1,500 members in 41 chapters, he said.
Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI office in Pittsburgh, R. Joseph Rothrock said the Pagans are a highly structured criminal organization.
“They had a complete disregard for law enforcement and the communities where they operate,” he said. “They don’t care what kind of violence or damage or pain they inflict on the community.”
The grand jury returned three separate, but related indictments for narcotics trafficking — including cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin, as well as firearms possession.
Brady said the indictments have disrupted the Pagans’ criminal organization.
The investigation began in August 2018, and included the use of confidential sources; a series of controlled buys; physical and electronic surveillance.
According to an application for a search warrant authored by FBI Special Agent John Ypsilantis, wiretaps were conducted on 10 phones belonging to six people, including members of the Pittsburgh Pagans’ chapter, from August through November.
Among those arrested was Bill Rana, who identified himself on Facebook as the “pa Sargent” for the Pagans, and referred to himself as “pgh billy1%pagan.” His nickname is “Pittsburgh Billy,” Ypsilantis wrote.
The term “one percenters” was coined in 1947, referring to the small number of people who attended motorcycle rallies and were considered outlaws, the affidavit said.
Some members of the Pagans, the filing said, have a “1%” stitching in a diamond-shaped patch on their cut-off denim jackets.
Rana also has a 1% diamond shaped patch tattoo on his face.
According to the filing, the agent learned that the Pagans had parties at the McKees Rocks clubhouse involving “party favors,” of meth, ecstasy and other club drugs. There was also prostitution there.
According to the prosecution, the Pagans held weekly meetings on Thursdays, which they called “church,” and also large gatherings at their clubhouse. Investigators set up a pole camera outside the clubhouse to record the comings and goings, the affidavit said.
Those charged include:
• Bill Rana, 40, of Cheswick
• Eric Armes, 42, of Cheswick
• Jason Evans, 44, of Pittsburgh
• Hasani James, 49, of Detroit
• Cody Bonanno, 25, of Uhrichsville, Ohio
• Phillip Bonanno, 54, of New Philadelphia, Ohio
• Dominic Quarture, 52, of Washington
• Mark Stockhausen, 39, of Erie
• Patrick Rizzo, 45, of McKees Rocks
• Anthony Peluso, 38, of Hampton
• Marissa Botta, 28, of Hampton
• David Pietropaolo, 23, of Glenshaw
• Thomas Snelsire, 45, of Baldwin
• Wayne Webber, 42, of Duquesne
• Ronald Simak, 37, of Verona
• Anthony Scatena, 22, of Pittsburgh
• James Stewart, 41, of Pittsburgh
• Dorin Duncan, 42, of Glenshaw
• Jeffrey Kushik, 29, of Pittsburgh
• Gary Hairston, 40, of Pittsburgh
• Darian Wofford, 27, of Pittsburgh
• Stephanie Zilka, 27, of Baldwin
• Misty Walker, 39, of Pittsburgh
• Richard White, 18, of Pittsburgh
• Randy Camacho, 34, of Pittsburgh
• Damian Cherepko, 26, of Elizabeth
• Brandon Hulboy, 29, of Pittsburgh
• James Crivella, 27, of Glenshaw
• Seaira Collins, 32, of Pittsburgh
• Jessica Taranto, 37, of Pittsburgh