Alleged motorcycle gang VP seeks bail in Philly
Posted on July 15, 2011
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- A leader of a nationwide motorcycle club described by prosecutors as a violent criminal enterprise is due in court Friday in Philadelphia.
A lawyer for Wheels of Soul vice president James "Animal" Smith says he'll seek bail at the afternoon hearing.
Lawyer William Brennan describes the 64-year-old Smith as "clean as a whistle," with no prior convictions.
But federal prosecutors are expected to seek to extradite Smith to St. Louis, where an 18-person indictment was unsealed this week.
The Wheels of Soul motorcycle club has a "Mother Chapter" in West Philadelphia which was raided by authorities on Tuesday.
Prosecutors say the group orchestrated violence and mayhem that included at least three murders across the country.
The defendants are from Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Wisconsin, Kentucky and Colorado.
Biker gang accused in St. Louis of murders, other crimes
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
ST. LOUIS • Eighteen current or former members of a national motorcycle gang have been indicted on federal racketeering charges in St. Louis and accused of a series of murders and other crimes, an indictment unsealed Tuesday says.
Three others face gun charges, and 17 of the 21 have been arrested, the U.S. Attorney's office said.
The 40-page indictment against the club's national vice president, two regional vice presidents and others says that the Wheels of Soul motorcycle club is a "criminal organization" involved in a nationwide feud with rival clubs that spawned many of the crimes.
The indictment accuses members of murders in Missouri, Illinois and Ohio, including the Aug. 15, 2009 murder of a rival gang member in St. Louis and plans to shoot members of a different club in January in East St. Louis.
It accuses members of a drive-by shooting in Colorado and also accuses club members of drug dealing and arson and talks of members having a variety of weapons. At least one was caught with high explosives, the indictment claims.
The indictment was handed down June 9 but not unsealed until Tuesday.
Motorcycle gang members face murder, drug charges
By JIM SALTER
POSTED: Tuesday, July 12th, 2011 at 11:51 am
BY: Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Eighteen members of a motorcycle gang known as Wheels of Soul face a federal indictment on charges ranging from racketeering to kidnapping to murder, including for fatal shootings in three states.
The indictment handed up June 9 was unsealed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. It wasn’t immediately clear if any of the defendants had attorneys.
The defendants are from seven states: Pennsylvania, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Colorado, Wisconsin and Kentucky.
The indictment alleges that Wheels of Soul is governed by the “Mother Chapter” in Philadelphia, with regional chapters around the country. Federal agents raided two Wheels of Soul clubhouses in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Members wear a black vest adorned with patches on the back and commonly refer to the gang as “the Nation.”
The indictment alleges that a select few gang members achieved “1%er,” or “Diamond” status for particularly violent activity. It accuses gang members of planning extortion against smaller gangs; distributing drugs, especially crack cocaine; plotting and carrying out several acts of violence including kidnapping, robbery and murder.
It also accuses gang members of several shootings, including three that were fatal: In St. Louis in 2009; in Chicago in January; and in Marion, Ohio, in March.
Some of the violence cited in the indictment was breathtaking. One member allegedly stabbed another person in the head during a fight at a Chicago motorcycle club, then shot another in the stomach.
In January, six of the accused went to an East St. Louis, Ill., nightclub intending to kill members of the rival Outkast OMG gang, according to the indictment. The plan was foiled because several police officers were seen near the club.
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