Dan Bifield, proud leader of a Rock Hill motorcycle gang that prosecutors proved sold dope and guns, has spent much of the past 32 years in federal prisons.
Except when he escaped and fled to the Bahamas.
Still, Bifield, 61, claims he is a man of great character that anybody “would want beside you in a foxhole,” fighting for the American way and apple pie – so the federal government and the public should embrace him.
Or at least cut his sentence in half.
Bifield, court testimony and evidence showed, sold drugs and guns and wanted kickbacks and threatened violence so often. Many of his schemes were caught on surveillance and wiretaps.
He swaggered through South Carolina from Lexington County to York County, in jewelry stores and bars and clubhouses, like General MacArthur stomping through the waves back to Manila.
Today, Bifield – ringleader of a crime wave of drugs and guns and money laundering centered right here in York County, until the scheme was blown apart by cops and informants – finds out if he will stay in prison until he is 81.
His wife, Lisa Bifield – who also sold drugs to informants and provided weapons for drug crimes – made a deal to testify against other Hells Angels and associates but reneged at the last minute. She also finds out today how long she will spend in a federal detention pen. It will be at least seven years.
The Bifields and their lawyers will say these are terrific people.
They pleaded guilty in December in the racketeering case that saw 15 Hells Angels members or associates plead guilty or be convicted of crimes ranging from selling cocaine and methamphetamine to kickback schemes over profits and threats of armed robbery and arson.
Dan Bifield was the vice president of the Rock Hell Nomads chapter, but had been president earlier.
Bifield, known as “Diamond Dan” for his affinity for jewelry, filed court documents late last week claiming the government manipulated him and set him up by using a paid informant to trap him into crimes that only started after the informant showed up.
He claims he only pleaded guilty to racketeering conspiracy to try to save his wife years of prison time.
A romantic hero, Bifield claims to be.
Bifield “possesses many character traits that are highly prized by society,” his lawyer wrote, so he should only get 10 years in prison instead of the maximum 20 years that comes with pleading guilty to an ongoing criminal conspiracy.
But the government “attempts to portray Bifield as an evil individual,” wrote federal public defender Allen Burnside. Bifield’s “outspoken nature and charismatic personality place an oversize target on his back,” which Bifield claims prompted the federal case that brought the Rock Hill chapter to its knees.
“Bifield is very loyal,” the court filing reads. “He will stand by his friends and family regardless of personal cost to him. He is a fighter with indomitable will. Bifield does not give up and rarely gets down, Bifield loves his wife, Lisa, and is willing to sacrifice himself for her benefit.
“All of these traits make Bifield exactly the type of person you would want beside you in a foxhole as the enemy attacks.”
Burnside did not return phone calls seeking comment. Louis Lang, Lisa Bifield’s lawyer, declined to comment.
Federal prosecutors also declined to comment.
Bifield came to South Carolina after a long stint in prison. He started the Rock Hill Hells Angels chapter, then proceeded to sell drugs and demand a cut of the take from lesser criminals of the “gang” prosecutors proved the Hells Angels to be.
He lived in Batesburg-Leesville west of Columbia, but committed some crimes right here in York County.
Hells Angels supporters would want the public to believe the riders spent their time collecting toys for kids at Christmas.
Bifield’s friends even started a Facebook page to solicit money and support for him. The page asks for people to send letters to the courts asking for a reduced sentence, and help paying for his glasses in jail.
There are photos of T-shirts on the page that proudly use profanity to talk of what the Hells Angels think of the federal government’s targeting of Bifield and the club.
Bifield was a big shot in Connecticut, starting a chapter in Bridgeport, and riding around on his big Harley.
In 1980, Bifield was convicted in federal court in Connecticut of extortion, possession of a firearm by a felon and, later, escape, said Chris Burke, spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
He was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
Bifield escaped through a window in a Connecticut jail while awaiting sentencing, fled to the Bahamas for months, then was caught after what court documents describe as an “international manhunt.”
In court, Bifield claimed he escaped only to get treatment for kidney stones.
In 1982, he was convicted for more extortion, Burke said, and was paroled in 1997.
In 2000, Bifield again was convicted, this time in a Pennsylvania federal court, of conspiracy to commit money laundering, Burke said.
From prison, Bifield and other convicts tried to collect tax refund checks, court documents show.
In 2002 Bifield was convicted of possession of contraband heroin by a federal inmate, Burke said.
Still, Bifield was paroled again and by 2008 had finished his sentence after a stint at a halfway house in South Carolina, Burke said.
Soon after, he helped start the Hells Angels chapter in Rock Hill. The police started investigating the group soon afterward, court documents and testimony show.
By 2011 there were local cops and state cops and federal agents and informants all over the Hells Angels, after starting with Dan Bifield’s drug deal with an informant.
The ex-con informant was paid $6,000 a month by the feds. All the Hells Angels screamed, and still do, in court documents and in court hearings that the informant and the FBI agents instigated all the crimes and that the Hells Angels were victims of a government trap.
Bifield and 19 others, including his wife, were arrested in June 2012 in a raid of clubhouses in South Carolina and North Carolina where the members went to “church” and proudly flew racist flags.
Evidence of violence brewing between rival motorcycle gangs that plagued York County prompted the latest police investigation.
The Hells Angels are not alone in federal prisons.
The Rock Hill Outlaws chapter president, Leslie Werth, is serving nine years for federal crimes, too.
Prosecutors today likely will say Dan Bifield is a many-time felon who ran a criminal enterprise of drugs and guns, and he deserves the maximum sentence of 20 years in prison on a single count of racketeering conspiracy.
His guilty plea is the only reason Bifield is not facing 30 years to life, documents show.
Three other Hells Angels leaders convicted after a long trial earlier this year will be sentenced June 19. By then, Dan and Lisa Bifield will be in federal prison.
The question only is, for how long?
Andrew Dys • 803-329-4065 • firstname.lastname@example.org