Two high-ranking members of the Long Island and Trenton chapters of the Pagan motorcycle gang, and three other members of the gang, pleaded guilty Friday to a variety of violent crimes, including some related to a plan to kill rival Hell's Angels.
Jason "Roadblock" Blair, who court papers described as president of the Pagan Long Island chapter, avoided a potential life sentence by pleading guilty in Central Islip federal court to charges of conspiracy of murder and assault and firing a firearm. He faces 16 years in prison under a plea agreement worked out with federal prosecutors.
Timothy "Pita" Fowler, described as president of a Pagan chapter in Trenton, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder and assault against Hell's Angels members. He faces 11 years in prison under the plea agreement.
U.S. District Judge Joanna Seybert ordered Blair, Fowler and three other defendants held without bail until their sentencing hearing Sept. 15.
The defendants, who had been joking and laughing with each other in the courtroom, were somber as, handcuffed and wearing tan prison suits, each told Seybert they were Pagan members and had committed the crimes to maintain or improve their standing in the gang.
Attorneys for the defendants declined to comment.
The five were among 17 Pagan members or associates of the gang arrested in a roundup by federal agents in September 2010.
The arrests came after a 21-month investigation led by ATF agents who infiltrated the group. The investigation, federal officials said then, was intended to crush the gang's attempted resurgence on Long Island and in the New York-New Jersey area. Proceedings are still pending against all but two defendants -- Ezra Davis and Douglas Youmans.
Robert Nardoza, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, pointed to a news release after the arrests that said undercover agents learned that Blair and Fowler, among others, discussed using grenades to kill members of the Hell's Angels and drew up a list of targets. At a New Jersey gathering of Pagans in September 2010, the release said, Blair ordered Long Island members "to be prepared to die or go to prison."Seybert said Blair had faced life in prison for the murder conspiracy. An additional charge of witness tampering was not pursued by the government. Seybert said Fowler had faced a maximum of 13 years in prison for the conspiracy and assault charges, and the dropped witness tampering charge. Nardoza declined to comment on the agreement.
In addition to Blair and Fowler, Derek "Pop Up" Dekker, described in the indictment as a member of a Pagans chapter in Ocean County, N.J., pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and agreed to a five-year sentence. Raymond "Bluto" Hamilton, described as sergeant-at-arms of the Trenton chapter, pleaded guilty and agreed to a five-year sentence for the unlawful use of a firearm as part of the plan to murder and assault Hell's Angels. James "Pop Tart" Popelaski, a member of the Long Island chapter, pleaded guilty and agreed to receive a three-year sentence for conspiracy to murder and assault the rival gang members with a dangerous weapons.