5 sentenced in Rock Hill biker gang trial

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comMay 9, 2013 

— Five alleged members of Rock Hill’s chapter of the Hells Angels biker gang who were found guilty of racketeering and several drug trafficking and conspiracy charges were sentenced Thursday in federal court in Columbia.

Richard “Rat” Thrower of Lancaster will serve 27 months in prison; Frank “Big Frank” Enriquez of Rock Hill will spend two years behind bars; and Johanna Looper of York was sentenced to 15 months, said Jay Richardson, the assistant U.S. attorney who handled the case.

Also sentenced were James “Sonny” Rhodus, who will serve a five-month probation, and Bruce “Diesel” Wilson, whom a judge sentenced to 18 months in prison. Rhodus and Wilson are from Columbia.

Rhodus, who faced 20 years in prison, pleaded guilty to money laundering, and Wilson, who faced a maximum 10-year prison sentence, pleaded guilty to selling guns to a felon.

Sentences for all five defendants will be followed by supervised release, Richardson said.

None of those sentenced Thursday is considered a “main” leader in the organization, he said. That label is reserved for Dan “Diamond Dan” Bifield, his wife, Lisa Bifield, and several other members of the organization who have yet to be sentenced. The Bifields are from Batesburg-Leesville.

Last week, a judge sentenced Ronald Byrum of Gastonia, N.C., to four years and three months in prison and Trent Brown of West Columbia to two years, Richardson said.

Kerry Chitwood of Gastonia, who faced life in prison and was considered one of the “main guys,” was sentenced to 20 years in a federal prison, he said.

Prosecutors used the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to determine sentences for those accused.

Last summer, 20 people connected with Hells Angels were arrested and placed in federal custody after police used undercover informants and wiretaps to expose an elaborate enterprise of drugs and weapons laundering. During the raid, police seized about 100 guns, cocaine and methamphetamine.

Charges were dropped against three defendants, and two defendants not accused of being ringleaders were found not guilty.

In March, three members, including the president of the Rock Hell City Nomads chapter, were found guilty of racketeering and drug trafficking after undercover surveillance and testimony by an informant showed them selling drugs and weapons.

Twelve members of the chapter had already pleaded guilty, including the Bifields. Dan Bifield asked to withdraw his plea, saying he was misled by prosecutors, but recently withdrew that request.

He and his wife will be sentenced on May 23, and David “Yard Owl” Pryor of York, who court documents allege was leader of the Red Devils Motorcycle Club believed to be working with the Nomads, will be sentenced on May 29.

Remaining members, including Mark William Baker of Lancaster, David Channing Oiler of Lancaster and Bruce James Long of West Columbia, will be sentenced on June 19, followed by Carlos Hernandez of Charlotte on July 10.

Jonathan McFadden 803-329-4082

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