Rock Hill Hells Angels trial heads to jury

adys@heraldonline.comMarch 11, 2013 

— Jurors in a federal courtroom will decide if prosecutors proved allegations of drug and weapons sales and a yearslong racketeering conspiracy of crime against four members of the Rock Hill Hells Angels.

A federal trial in U.S. District Court in Columbia that started in early February finished with closing arguments from prosecutors and defense lawyers Thursday, according to Beth Drake, a spokesperson from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Columbia.

The Rock Hell City Nomads chapter was at the center of what prosecutors and federal, state and local police claim was an empire of cocaine and methamphetamine sales, laundered money, illegal weapons sales and other crimes.

On trial are Rock Hill Hells Angels president Mark William “Lightning” Baker, David Channing “Gravel Dave” Oiler, Bruce James “Bruce-Bruce” Long and Thomas McManus “Uncle Tom” Plyler. All have ties to the Rock Hill and Lexington clubs.

Defense lawyers have argued that while the bikers do not live traditional lives, they were targeted by overzealous law enforcement as criminals when only living an alternative lifestyle. Further, the defense has hammered at the FBI’s use of a paid informant, Rock Hill jeweler Joe Dillulio, described in court as an ex-con with ties to the New York mob.

Dillulio was paid $6,000 a month during months of undercover surveillance and wiretaps before a June 2012 sweeping raid where 20 Hells Angels and associates were arrested in both Carolinas.

Many of those defendants have pleaded guilty, including Rock Hill Hells Angels vice president “Diamond” Dan Bifield and his wife. However, Bifield has filed court papers requesting that he be able to withdraw that plea that would have given him up to 20 years in prison. A hearing on that likely will be next month.

The trial at the Matthew Perry Courthouse has been marked by heavy security, including Homeland Security agents, dog teams and other measures because some people with ties to the Hells Angels testified against others in the group. A Hells Angels member in federal prison testified the group has cornered the methamphetamine trade in South Carolina.

Defense lawyers claimed that the paid informant and convict are both snitches trying to save themselves at the expense of the club and its members.

The trial started with five defendants but Judge Cameron Currie dismissed charges against Donald “Brooklyn Donnie” Boersma of Clover, who had been described as a prospective Hells Angels member.

Andrew Dys •  803-329-4065

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