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Pagan's Motorcycle Club, or simply The Pagans, is an outlaw motorcycle club formed by Lou Dobkin in 1959 in Prince George's County, Maryland, United States. The club rapidly expanded and by 1959, the Pagans, originally clad in blue denim jackets and riding Triumphs, began to evolve along the lines of the stereotypical one-percenter motorcycle club. The Pagans are categorized as an outlaw motorcycle club by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). They are known to fight over territory with the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) and other motorcycle clubs. They are currently active in Delaware, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico.

Early history

The Pagans were established in Prince George's County, Maryland, by then-president Lou Dobkin, beginning in 1957 and officially organized in 1958. The group started out wearing denim jackets with embroidered insignia instead of the more standard three-piece patches utilized by most OMGs, and riding both American and British motorcycles, Harley-Davidsons and Triumphs. Originally they were a "brotherhood of 13 motorcyclists. In the 1960s they adopted a formal constitution and formed a governing structure, choosing a national president who was paid the same amount as the U.S. President, which worked out to a $100,000 salary per year. and calling the gesture "a show of class." They were a fairly non-violent group until 1965. After gaining a swelling mass of new members which put the Pagans on the path to evolve into an outlaw motorcycle gang (OMG). It was largely a semantic gesture made after they gathered at a motorcycle race in Maryland; the ensuing incident found them branded as "The 1% of motorcyclists whom caused problems" in local newspapers. The Pagans claim to have invented and adopted the 1%er patch, referencing the newspaper articles of the time. This 1%er patch quickly adopted by most other OMGs. With ties to other organized crime groups, the Pagans quickly became dominant in the Mid-Atlantic region. They were the only large OMG in that region as well as a large portion of the Northeast USA. Their growth under the leadership of John "Satan" Marron, saw the Pagans grow to nearly 5,000 members in the early 1970s. Their "Mother Club" is never in a fixed location, but it has been generally located in the northeast. The Pagans' top echelon of leadership must always number 13 members. There are also chapter presidents, with the largest chapter at times located in the Philadelphia area. Though primarily concentrated in the northeast and mid-Atlantic, the Pagans began expanding into Florida in the 1990s and west, with chapters beyond the Mississippi River. The Pagans have grown slowly through a natural cycle of attrition in the smaller OMGs, the practice of patching over other chapters or entire clubs. The practice of incorporating smaller OMGs was prevalent from the 1970s to the early 1990s.

Patch

The Pagans MC patch depicts the Norse fire-giant Surtr sitting on the sun, wielding a sword, plus the word ''Pagan's'' , in red, white and blue. The image of Surtr was taken from an illustration by Jack Kirby in issue 97 of the comic book ''Journey into Mystery''. Though historically not wearing a bottom rocker, a patch denoting the location of where a one-percenter bike club is based, the Pagan Motorcycle club has since started wearing an "East Coast" insignia on their vests Members wear blue denim vests called cuts or cutoffs with club patches, known as colors, on the front and back.

Membership

Recently, the Pagans' membership has begun to grow. Pagans have approximately 1,300+ members and more than 100 chapters and are active along the East Coast of the United States, and Puerto Rico. Chapters are common in Florida, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Puerto Rico. The Pagans have a mother club or ruling council which ultimately rules the club. Members must be at least 21 years old and owners of Harley-Davidson motorcycles with engines 1000cc or larger.

Criminal activities

The Pagans have been linked to the production and smuggling of drugs such as methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and PCP. The Pagans also have had strong ties to organized crime, especially in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Pagans often use puppet clubs, smaller affiliated motorcycle clubs, or small street drug trafficking organizations that support larger outlaw motorcycle gangs for distributing drugs. Pagans have also engaged in assault, arson, extortion, motorcycle/car theft, and weapons trafficking. Most of the violence carried out by the Pagans is directed to rival gangs such as Hells Angels.


Florida


On March 4, 1974, seventeen-year-old Amy Billig disappeared near her home in Coconut Grove, Florida. Billig's fate remained unknown for at least 24 years, until in 1998 Paul Branch, a former Pagans member, revealed in a deathbed confession that on the day of her disappearance she had been abducted, drugged, raped and murdered. According to Branch, Billig's body was dumped in the surrounding Everglades, though it has never been found. Billig's case received national media attention, including features on ''Unsolved Mysteries'' and ''America's Most Wanted''.


New Jersey


On July 17, 1994, at least eight members of the Pagans showed up at the annual charity picnic fund-raiser organized by Tri-County MC in Hackettstown. The Pagans were there to intimidate local motorcycle clubs into aligning with the Pagans so they would have a larger power base to prevent the Hells Angels from getting established in New Jersey. A fight started and escalated from fists to knives and guns. When it was over, Pagans Glenn Ritchie and Diego Vega had been shot dead; Pagan Ron Locke and Tri-County member William Johnson had gunshot wounds, and Tri-County member Hank Riger had his throat cut. Pagans member Robert "Hellboy" Deronde was convicted of the April 24, 2018 beating of Hells Angels member Jeffrey Shank with a baseball bat at a gas station in Newark, and was sentenced to four years in prison in July 2019. Pagans national president Keith "Conan" Richter was arrested February 26, 2021 after a police stop in East Windsor where a loaded pistol was found in a vehicle in which he was a passenger.

New York/Pennsylvania

The United States Department of Justice has stated that the Pagans have strong ties to the Philadelphia crime family, involving jewelry burglaries and extortion. On February 23, 2002, 73 Pagans were arrested on Long Island, New York after appearing at an indoor motorcycle and tattoo expo called the Hellraiser Ball. The Pagans had shown up to the event to confront Hells Angels who were at the Ball. Dozens of Pagans rushed the doors of the event and were met with violence by the Hells Angels. Fighting ensued, ten people were wounded, and a Hells Angel shot and killed a Pagans member. Two weeks later, a Pagans-owned tattoo parlor located in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was firebombed. In 2005, Pagans allegedly opened fire on and killed the vice-president of the Hells Angels' Philadelphia chapter as he was driving his truck on the Schuylkill Expressway. Later that year, the Hells Angels closed their Philadelphia chapter. In September 2010, nineteen members of the Pagans were arrested in Rocky Point, New York for allegedly conspiring to murder members of the Hells Angels. Charges also include assault, distribution of cocaine and oxycodone, conspiracy to commit extortion and weapons charges. Two federal ATF agents infiltrated the gang, providing key evidence. One agent eventually served as sergeant-at-arms, the second-highest position in the hierarchy. Gang members were heard plotting to murder members of the Hells Angels using homemade hand grenades.

Maryland

A Pagans MC leader, Jay Carl Wagner, 66, was arrested in Washington County, Maryland, by 60-plus officers from state, local and federal officials with a bomb disposal robot on May 9, 2007, and later charged with possession of a regulated firearm after conviction of a violent crime. Police and agents recovered seven handguns, two alleged explosive devices and 13 rifles. On March 5, 2008, Wagner pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. On August 8, 2008, U.S. District Chief Judge Benson E. Legg sentenced Wagner to 30 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. On 6 October 2009, the home of national president David "Bart" Barbeito in Myersville, Maryland was raided by police. He was arrested on firearms charges. In June, 2010 he pleaded guilty to racketeering and other charges. He was sentenced to thirty months' confinement.

Multi-state

In 2009, 55 Pagans members and associates were arrested from West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Florida. Charges range from attempted murder and kidnapping to drug dealing and conspiracy. So far, seven defendants in the case have pleaded guilty.


Rhode Island


In 2018, 49 people, some members of the Pagans MC, were arrested in one of the largest busts in Rhode Island history. The seizure of 53 illegal guns, including a rocket launcher, and a "large quantity" of marijuana, crack, cocaine, and heroin was the end results of 12-month investigation conducted by members of the Rhode Island State Police Special Investigations Unit with assistance from the Rhode Island Attorney General's office, ATF, and FBI.

References

{{DEFAULTSORT:Pagans Motorcycle Club Category:Organizations established in 1959 Category:1959 establishments in Maryland Category:Prince George's County, Maryland Category:Outlaw motorcycle clubs Category:Motorcycle clubs in the United States Category:Organized crime groups in the United States Category:Gangs in Delaware Category:Gangs in Florida Category:Gangs in Maryland Category:Gangs in Massachusetts Category:Gangs in New Jersey Category:Gangs in New York (state) Category:Gangs in New York City Category:Gangs in Pennsylvania Category:Gangs in Philadelphia Category:Gangs in Rhode Island Category:Gangs in Virginia Category:Gangs in West Virginia