10 in area charged in motorcycle gang probe

27 suspected Outlaws charged overall. Indictment describes use of violence and intimidation, plan to wage war against rival gangs.

By Ely Portillo

Witnesses said authorities used explosives to blow a hole in the wall at this motorcycle club in Newton. JEFF WILLHELM -

Ten men from the Charlotte region have been charged in a federal investigation of the Outlaws motorcycle gang, according to an indictment that describes an elaborate criminal enterprise engaged in violence, territory struggles and a plot to blow up rival gang outposts.


In Charlotte, the indictment says, members met to plan a "war" against their chief rivals - the Hell's Angels motorcycle club. They also discussed burning houses in Charlotte used by their competitors.


The federal indictment unsealed Tuesday was handed down by a grand jury in Alexandria, Va. It details allegations and evidence gathered by undercover agents over more than a year.

Agents raided area motorcycle clubs on Tuesday, including an early-morning sweep at a club in Newton where witnesses said authorities used explosives to blow a hole in the wall.


"The Outlaws is a highly organized criminal enterprise with a defined multi-level chain of command ...," the indictment says. "(Members) use intimidation, violence and threats of violence against suspected members of rival gangs and others."


Those arrested face a variety of charges including racketeering, violent crimes in aid of racketeering, conspiracy to commit violence, witness tampering and drug distribution.


The government is also seeking to confiscate the men's motorcycles, as well as a house in northwest Charlotte.


Those indicted around Charlotte include several alleged bosses. The indictment says David "Little David" Lowry was a member of the Charlotte chapter and boss of the gang's so-called "Copper Region," which covers the Carolinas and Virginia.

The alleged presidents of the Rock Hill, Hickory, Asheville and Lexington chapters are also charged. The indictment names them as Michael "M&M" Mariaca, Michael Smith, Chris Granger and Jamie "Verne" Townsend, respectively.

The N.C. chapter presidents were planning an attack with "professional-grade explosives" against Hell's Angels members in Richmond, where they were fighting to claim territory, the indictment says.

The gang has a notorious history in the Charlotte region. In 1979, five Outlaws members were slain at a house in Charlotte's Derita neighborhood, in what remains the city's largest unsolved murder case. In tribute, the indictment says, Outlaws today wear a patch reading "GFOD" on their jackets: "God Forgives, Outlaws Don't."

Outlaws pay monthly dues of about $100, money that's split between local and national chapters, according to the indictment. The gang also makes money, the indictment says, by operating illegal gambling rings and selling drugs, including methamphetamine.

The indictment says the gang's conflict with the Hell's Angels flared up in 2006 when the Outlaws tried to expand into Virginia. They started a chapter in Manassas and began fighting Angels-affiliated gangs in Petersburg, Dinwiddie and Richmond.

The indictment also details gang activities in the Carolinas spanning more than a year.


In May 2009, the indictment says, alleged Outlaws Leslie Werth of Rock Hill - previously the Copper Region boss - and Michael Mariaca assaulted a Hell's Angel outside a Rock Hill bar.


According to the indictment, at a Charlotte meeting in August, Werth told regional gang leaders: "Outlaws are at war with Hell's Angels ... and the standing order is to assault them on sight." Anyone who failed to act on an opportunity to attack a Hell's Angel would lose a diamond patch indicating special Outlaw status.

At a November meeting, leaders gathered in Charlotte and were instructed to stop any new motorcycle clubs from opening unless members wore patches pledging allegiance to the Outlaws, according to the indictment.

In December, law enforcement officers shut down The Rock Hill Toy Run - an event during which local bikers collect toys, food and money to give to local charities - because they worried about possible violence between the two gangs.

In January, the indictment says Hickory President Smith told Outlaws members "how to make an explosive device for use in attacking Hell's Angels." And that same month, about 100 Outlaws traveled to Charlotte to confront Hell's Angels who they thought would be at the Easyrider Bike Expo.

No assaults were reported there, the indictment says, but authorities stopped Outlaws leaving the Expo and found six guns.

In February, Rock Hill chapter President Mariaca discussed plans to blow up a tattoo parlor in Richmond owned by a Hell's Angel, the indictment says.


At a bosses' meeting in Lexington, N.C., on April 10, the indictment says Mark Spradling - the Outlaws' regional treasurer from Hickory - told members to start conducting surveillance on Hell's Angels, and another member produced a map with locations of Hell's Angels homes and clubhouses.


Others charged from North Carolina are Spradling, Harry McCall of Lexington and William "Rebel" Davey and Chris Gagner, both of Asheville.

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