Hells Angel Road Master Headline Animator

Hells Angel Road Master

Hells Angel sites Search

Custom Search

Sunday, 21 February 2010

William Wardell "Cozmo" Welebir,, and now of Conway, S.C., was convicted Friday in U.S. District Court on a single count of arson

William Wardell "Cozmo" Welebir, formerly of Front Royal, and now of Conway, S.C., was convicted Friday in U.S. District Court on a single count of arson. Prosecutors didn't have to prove that he actually set the Oct. 25, 2003, fire, but had at least aided and abetted the arson.six years after Strasburg's Bad Water Bill's Bar-B-Q Barn was destroyed in a 3 a.m. blaze, one of the culprits has been brought to justice.The other is dead, according to the U.S. government.
Welebir faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison, with a 20-year maximum. After ensuring his medical needs -- he suffers from insulin-dependent diabetes, hypertension and osteoarthritis, among other ailments -- could be met in a local jail, he was taken into the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service to await sentencing.Jurors sat through more than two days of testimony from witnesses who included a fire expert, a motorcycle gang expert, investigators and current and former members of the Pagans Motorcycle Club.Within weeks of the fire, Welebir, using the alias "Mr. Wagner," was supplying police with information on the Pagans, one of what are known as one-percenter outlaw motorcycle gangs because they are among the 1 percent of bikers who don't follow society's rules. He was put in touch with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent Mark Ambrozy, who testified that Welebir kept changing his story about the arson that at Bad Water Bill's.In one account, Welebir didn't know about the fire until the next morning; in another, he said he was at one gas station, while in a different version he placed himself at another. In one statement, Welebir said he saw current Pagan James Arthur "Art" Calhoun and former Pagan Josh Vossel set the fire, according to Ambrozy.
A Virginia state trooper saw Welebir's Ford Mustang leaving the bar, a haunt for area biker gangs, particularly the Warlocks, minutes before the fire was reported.On the stand Friday morning, Vossel said had he been asked to set the fire, he would have. At that time, he was what is known as a "hang around," someone who runs around with the gang, but is not a full member.

Vossel said "one percenters" live by their own rules, prompting U.S. District Judge Samuel G. Wilson to ask if that applied to telling the truth on the stand. Vossel said he left the Pagans five or six years ago, so their rules no longer applied to him."It's not like they're out there robbing banks or killing babies, or anything like that," he said. "It's like a government. You have officers, you have presidents, you have secretaries, treasurers."

The Pagans were upset by what they saw as an effort by the Hells Angels to move into their territory, Vossel said. A Hells Angels support club, the Titans, had a bike show scheduled at the Strasburg eatery the day of the fire. Putting up a wall against the support club makes it harder for the bigger club to settle in, he said.

"It's like containing a virus," Vossel said. "You don't want it to get airborne."Vossel overheard the Pagans' president, Steven Paul "Blacksmith" Hampton, who was killed in a motorcycle crash five years ago, talking about retaliating against the Hells Angels. He described Hampton, a close friend of Welebir's, as "paranoid" of the Pagans being linked to criminal activity."'Blacksmith' liked to use civilians for a lot of his dirty work," Vossel said. "That way, it has nothing to do with the Pagans."Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan Souders said Welebir was guilty of at least driving Hampton to the scene of the fire."A strong message was sent with what was done," he said. "There were flames and destruction. This was a terrible fire.
"I will be honest. There are some questions that haven't been answered. There are some questions that we're never going to know the answer to. Who all was there at the scene of the fire? Who lit the match? Who poured the gas? We don't know."
Calhoun, 51, of White Post, testified Thursday that Welebir wasn't "Pagans material," highlighting as an example of his breach of Pagan etiquette Welebir publicly identifying Calhoun at a bike show. Souders played excerpts of a recorded phone call between Welebir and an intelligence analyst.In that call, Welebir talks about recently taking a gift to Calhoun, but spends a great deal of time telling the analyst, Domingo Perez, of the Shenandoah County Sheriff's Office, that Calhoun is supplying drugs, and suggests that Calhoun's wife be pressured to give up information by threatening to take away their baby.
Defense attorney Andrea Harris threw suspicion on Calhoun's and Vossel's credibility, and said her client didn't want to be a member of the Pagans.
"Cooperating with police certainly wouldn't impress the Pagans," she said. "Once [investigators] found the Mustang, they just tried to build a case against the Mustang."The government is asking you to speculate, and you cannot speculate. The government is asking you to believe the words of these Pagans. ... They're outlaws. Mr. Welebir is a person who was trying to do the right thing."Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Mott was the final lawyer to address jurors.
"We don't have to prove motive, but we did," he said. "It's respect. He was trying to get the respect of Paul Hampton, the president of the chapter. He was trying to get the respect of Calhoun and Vossel and others involved in the club. But when he didn't get it, he turned on them."A sentencing date has not yet been set.The arson's victims have some "vindication" now, Mott said after court.
"They were innocent victims caught up in [a] turf war," he said.

No comments:


Related Posts with Thumbnails