COLUMBIA — After a five-week trial describing rampant drug sales, gun running and intimidation throughout South Carolina at the hands of motorcycle outlaws, jurors in federal court Thursday found three Hells Angels guilty of racketeering and other charges, according to court documents from the Department of Justice.
Mark Lightning Baker, president of the Rock Hill chapter of the Hells Angels, David Gravel Dave Oiler of Lancaster, and Bruce Bruce-Bruce Long of the Columbia area all face decades in prison at sentencing in a few weeks. It is unclear how long prison terms will be, but some convictions carry 20 years each.
A fourth Hells Angels member, Thomas Uncle Tom Plyler of Lancaster, was found not guilty of the three charges against him and ordered released by U.S. District Court Judge Cameron Currie, verdict documents show.
Because the judge and jury still have to consider procedural matters such as drug weights and property forfeitures, U.S. Attorneys Office spokeswoman Beth Drake declined to comment on the verdicts.
Efforts to reach attorneys for the convicted Hells Angels members were unsuccessful Thursday.
The trial in federal court in Columbia, conducted under heavy security, featured wiretaps, surveillance and informants used by police and federal prosecutors to allege the Hells Angels directing a criminal enterprise running cocaine, methamphetamine and weapons, then laundering the profits.
During the trial, assistant U.S. Attorney Jay Richardson described the Hells Angels who in York County called themselves the Rock Hell City Nomads as a gang, outlaws, and criminals who ran drugs in an ongoing crime cabal of violent greed.
The Hells Angels used subterfuges including calling the drugs ice cream and pizza, and in one instance delivering weapons in a guitar case.
Police seized about 100 guns, cocaine and methamphetamine when 20 arrests were made in a sweeping June 2012 raid, claiming the bust was a huge effort to clean up South Carolinas illegal drugs and weapons scourge by eliminating the source.
The Hells Angels cornered the methamphetamine trade in South Carolina, a full patch Hells Angels member in prison on drug convictions testified.
Court officials had such a concern for security during the trial that federal Homeland Security agents and local police regularly patrolled both inside and outside the courthouse.
Plyler, the sole defendant cleared Thursday, could not be reached for comment after the verdict.
His brother, Charles Plyler, said after the trial that every one of those people on trial was entrapped by overzealous government agents who set up alleged crimes to go after the bikers. Police and prosecutors used all kinds of lies, he said.
Defense lawyers during the trial tried to paint the investigation as just that entrapment of the Hells Angels targeting an outlaw culture that bucked societal norms. Defense lawyers hammered prosecutors use of informant Joe Dillulio, a Rock Hill jeweler portrayed by the bikers as an ex-con snitch from New York with ties to mobsters, who was paid $6,000 a month to testify.
Baker, Oiler and Long were convicted after prosecutors documented hundreds of photos, phone calls and videos showing drug deals with large amounts of cocaine and crystal meth, weapons deliveries that included assault weapons, and other crimes.
Baker was convicted on racketeering conspiracy, drugs and money laundering charges, court documents show. The jury cleared Baker of four other charges.
Oiler, depicted on wiretaps selling both drugs and weapons, was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, 12 drug charges, two weapons charges, and a money laundering charge, according to federal verdict forms.
Long was convicted of racketeering conspiracy, 10 drug charges, two weapons charges, and money laundering.
All three are expected to appeal.
Several other Hells Angels and associates arrested in June have already pleaded guilty, including Rock Hill chapter vice-president Dan Diamond Dan Bifield and his wife, Lisa Bifield.
Dan Bifield, who faces at least 20 years in prison, last month asked a judge to withdraw his plea, claiming he had been misled by prosecutors, but no hearing has yet been held.
After prosecutors finished their case two weeks ago, a fifth defendant Donald Brooklyn Donnie Boersma of Clover was cleared of all charges.
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065