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Saturday, 26 March 2011

Six suspected motorcycle gang members arrested in the wake of a 2009 bar fight in Preston appear to be moving closer to a trial.

Court records show that six men charged for their roles in the beating and stabbing of a Norwich man at the Brookside Cafe have continued to reject undisclosed offers in their cases. The cases are now on the trial list with an undetermined start date.

Records also show that senior assistant state’s attorney Vincent J. Dooley upgraded charges last month, charging each of the men with first-degree assault. The six men, “members of an organization known as the Legion of Doom, did intentionally cause serious physical injury,” to victim Kevin Kennedy, Dooley wrote.  

Police arrived at the former Brookside Cafe on Route 2A at 1:38 a.m. June 28, 2009, to find large groups of people scattering in all directions. Witnesses told police the six men had beaten Kennedy, who was hospitalized with multiple injuries, including a knife wound to his leg.

The fight started when Kennedy bumped one of the gang members, police said.

Witnesses said as many as 20 gang members spread out in different areas of the bar’s porch and started chanting, “LOD,” and “860,” code for “hands-on fight,” before rushing Kennedy, police said.

Kennedy, who was dragged outside the bar by friends, was followed by a group and repeatedly kicked and punched in the head while he lay on the ground, police said. Some witnesses said members of the group yelled racial slurs.

Witnesses said the accused men were speaking in code and wearing black leather vests with red, white and gray Legion of Doom patches on the backs of their vests.

The following men are now charged with first-degree assault:

Carlos Aguinaga Jr., 28, formerly of Gales Ferry; Michael C. Cavaluzzi, 25, of Peekskill, N.Y.; James C. Condict, 28, of 113 Georgia St. in Groton; Steven A. Franchino, 27, of Middle Village, N.Y.; Ricky T. Gray, 44, of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Justin Schwartz, 28, of Flushing, N.Y.

Gray faces the most severe charges. He faces two counts of first-degree assault, tampering with evidence, inciting a riot and inciting injury to a person.   

Attorneys for the men, many of whom have filed motions for separate trials, could not be reached Thursday for comment.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Fourteen people are to appear in the Nelson District Court tomorrow following a major police operation aimed at preventing the Red Devils increasing their foothold in Nelson.

Police dogged the movements of visiting Hells Angels and other motorcyclists on their Saturday poker run, sending a clear message that new gangs are not welcome in the Nelson region.

Following on from Friday's raids, which led to the arrest of all the key Nelson members of Hells Angel offshoot the Red Devils, police stuck close to the patched gang members, their associates and supporters on the organised ride, varying from 60 to about 100 riders at various stages.

They issued 43 infringement notices and green stickered eight bikes, meaning they could be ridden home but then have to be taken off the road.

Fourteen people will appear in court tomorrow, and three have been remanded in custody until April 1.

About 350 people attended a Fight Night at the Trafalgar Centre on Saturday night which police said did not result in any incidents requiring their intervention.

They said the Hells Angels left town yesterday morning to catch a Cook Strait ferry.

The poker run cost $20 to sign up for and the proceeds were destined to go to Nelson private sports medicine and ambulance company Medimax, operated by former St John officer Maxwell Clark.

The Nelson Mail was told that the organisers of the poker run – an event in which each rider draws a card at a series of stops to make up a poker hand, with the winning hand to receive $1000 – had all been locked up after the raids at the Red Devils' headquarters and many private homes, and that there was confusion around its staging.

But it went ahead, with riders and passengers getting a briefing from a patched Hells Angel at Isel Park in Stoke before they set off for Mapua soon after noon.

They were told to expect no tolerance from the police for any traffic violations and that they should not race to catch up with other riders, should stick with the pack and observe temporary speed limits around road works.

There was a heavy police presence at Isel Park, where Nelson Bays area commander Brian McGurk mingled with the gang members and other riders, attempting to converse with them.

Hells Angel patches were prominent, with about a dozen worn. There was one man wearing a Headhunters patch and one Hells Angel also wore a Nomads patch. No other gang insignia was obvious.

None of the gang members agreed to be interviewed but one Hells Angel spoken to briefly before the ride pointed out Mr McGurk and said the heavy policing was because "that man has an illness".

He questioned the cost of the large police exercise on Friday and of Saturday's policing, saying that the money would be better spent on helping Christchurch recover.

He also suggested that there were more disgraced police in prison than Hells Angels.

"We've got 30-odd members in New Zealand and only two of them are in jail at the moment," he said.

The group, which included many Nelson motorcyclists including eight of the Black Horse Social Motorcycle Group's 14 members, went first to Mapua and gathered at both the Grossi Point reserve and at the Golden Bear Brewing Company's bar. Some bought hot food from children conducting a Christchurch earthquake fundraiser beside the bar. Many police were evident in and around Mapua and on the roads.

The run left for Kaiteriteri at 2pm, arriving to find that police cars blocked access to the store, petrol pumps and motor camp.

It left for Motueka at 3pm, with the group splitting up to take several different roads. A large contingent headed for the Moutere Inn on the inland highway, but found "closed – private function" signs at the turnoff and carried on to Appleby.

Just over the Appleby Bridge and just before their destination, the Traveller's Rest hotel, they were greeted by a large number of police, including armed offenders squad members wearing sidearms, and put through a checkpoint where they were breath-tested and had their motorcycles inspected. There were 14 police cars, some unmarked, the booze bus and a paddy wagon at that point. As well as numerous patrols following the motorcycles and cars stationed at strategic intersections, several police photographers were in action throughout the afternoon.

One middle-aged Hells Angel wearing a "vice president" badge and clearly a senior figure said he would not be interviewed because he did not trust the media to fairly and accurately report what he said.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Nine members of the Greasy Dogs motorcycle gang have been fined $500 each following a standoff with rival gang the Filthy Few last month.

Nine members of the Greasy Dogs motorcycle gang have been fined $500 each following a standoff with rival gang the Filthy Few last month.

Eleven defendants pleaded guilty to a charge of unlawful assembly when they appeared before Judge Christopher Harding in Tauranga District Court yesterday.

The nine who were fined were also ordered to each pay $132.89 in court costs. Two others have been sentenced to 40 hours' community work.

Police were alerted to tensions between the two gangs about 11.30am on February 5 after Filthy Few members wearing gang patches rode motorcycles into Matapihi - an area known to be occupied by Greasy Dogs.

After the Filthy Few members became involved in an altercation with a patched Greasy Dogs member on the roadside, members of the public called police.

The Filthy Few members rode off but were stopped a short time later riding around Matapihi.

About 3pm, about 20 Greasy Dogs members travelled to the Filthy Few gang pad at Birch Ave. An altercation followed between the two groups, during which police say some of the Filthy Few armed themselves with weapons including hammers, a spade and a baseball bat. When police arrived, the Greasy Dogs members began dispersing but 13 were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Whanganui gang patch ban unlawful

The High Court has ruled Whanganui District Council's gang patch ban is unlawful.

Showdown: How the Outlaws, Hells Angels and Cops Fought for Control of the StreetsThe Hells Angels gang sought a judicial review of the ban, arguing the bylaw - banning the wearing of gang insignia in public in Whanganui - was invalid.

Justice Denis Clifford, in a judgment released today, said he had reached the same conclusion.

The bylaw did not specify which public places the ban applied, and was therefore invalid under national law, he said."


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