The former national president of the Pagan’s motorcycle club, who led the organization’s aggressive expansion across New Jersey and elsewhere, is set to plead guilty to a federal charge, NJ Advance Media has learned.
Keith “Conan” Richter, of Bay Shore, New York, has a plea agreement hearing set for July 30, according to online court records.
Richter has been held in a New Jersey jail since he was charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition by a convicted felon in February after police became aware that Richter, who spent 16 years in prison for attempted murder and racketeering, was traveling in New Jersey with a loaded firearm.
Richter was traveling back to New York from a Pagan’s event in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where police said they were informed Richter was in possession of a firearm, which a convicted felon is not legally allowed to do.
He was a passenger in a GMC that left the party around 11 p.m. and was eventually pulled over in in East Windsor in Mercer County around 1:30 a.m. on Feb. 21. Police searched the vehicle and found a loaded Ruger P345 .45-caliber handgun underneath the cupholder of the center console, authorities said.
Richter and the passenger were not detained at the time, but Richter was later arrested by an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
It is unclear what offense he is set to plead guilty to. His attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Frazer previously said in court that the government had “incontrovertible evidence” that Richter possessed the firearm at the party.
A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office said the details of the plea hearing have not been released publicly. Richter faces up to 10 years in prison if he pleads guilty to being a felon in possession of a weapon.
After being released from prison in 2012, Richter became the Pagans national president in 2018 and quickly began to make his mark on the future of the outlaw motorcycle club.
His main mission was to expand the club, and it’s number of members rapidly increased under his leadership by absorbing smaller, local motorcycle groups, allowing minority members to join who were previously barred and loosening other procedures traditionally followed to bring on new members, officials have said.
The New Jersey State Commission of Investigation released a report last year that claimed the club’s mission to “aggressively recruit, expand and display its force came directly from” Richter.
“This Pagan resurgence – especially the increased violence and other illegal acts that have accompanied it – not only threatens the public peace and public safety of the citizens of New Jersey, it also presents significant challenges for those responsible for protecting it,” the report said.
Since Richter’s arrest, multiple law enforcement sources told NJ Advance Media that Robert “Big Bob” Francis, of Virginia, has taken over the role as national president.
Over the last few months, a number of Pagan members in New Jersey have been criminally charged by federal authorities on offenses related to assault, firearms and drug distribution.
“This investigation has dealt a significant blow to the Pagans motorcycle gang,” Susan A. Gibson, the special agent in charge of the DEA’s New Jersey division, said in a statement last month. “The use of violence, weapons, and intimidation was standard for this criminal organization, and law enforcement made it clear that their behavior would not be tolerated.”