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Indictment raises Hells Angels question ..........

From: Compliments of Outsider's News 
Date: 10/2/2002
Time: 7:47:18 PM
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Indictment raises Hells Angels question October 2, 2002 - Minnesota - Pioneer Press The Hells Angels motorcycle club, once synonymous with violence, drug dealing and racketeering, is making headlines again. And while Minnesota has not had deadly shootouts like in Nevada and New York earlier this year between rival motorcycle clubs, authorities here have investigated the Hells Angels for drug trafficking and money laundering. Federal prosecutors Tuesday announced the drug distribution indictment of the local Hells Angels chapter president Patrick J. Matter, who also owns a motorcycle shop in Northeast Minneapolis. A federal grand jury also indicted two of Matter's associates, Mark A. Armstrong and Michael T. Eason, although it was unclear whether they are members of the Hells Angels. Earlier this year, a federal grand jury indicted another member, Jay D. Rankin Sr. of Washington County, on charges of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Prosecutors and federal investigators would not comment on whether they are targeting the Hells Angels or how extensive the local chapter's suspected criminal activity may be. The defendant's lawyers also did not speak to any investigation of the Hells Angels. "It does seem like they're (the Hells Angels) in the news a lot lately," said Minneapolis attorney Steve Tallen, who represents Rankin. Matter's and Armstrong's attorneys both said their clients were innocent and they would fight the charges. Matter's attorney, Alan Caplan of San Francisco, said the indictment never mentions the Hells Angels and the organization has no bearing on the case. Armstrong's attorney, Joe Friedberg of Minneapolis, said Armstrong is not and never has been a member of the Hells Angels. According to the indictment unsealed Tuesday, Matter, 50, of Corcoran conspired to distribute cocaine, methamphetamine and marijuana and then tried to conceal the drug-dealing transactions through the sales of motorcycles from his shop, Minneapolis Custom Cycle. Armstrong, 40, of Minneapolis took part in the conspiracy to distribute cocaine and Eason, 63, of Zimmerman, Minn., took part in the conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine, according to the indictment. Matter was also involved in a case in which members of a rival club bombed his truck in Minneapolis in 1993. Some members of the Outlaw Motorcycle Club were convicted in 2000 in Wisconsin of federal racketeering charges in connection with the bombing. The Hells Angels began shortly after World War II, steadily growing in the decades following. In the 1960s, the Angels began to be associated with criminal drug enterprises. But they perhaps became most famous in December 1969 when the Rolling Stones hired them as security for the band's free concert at Altamont Speedway in the San Francisco Bay area. The crowd turned violent and several people were killed in the mayhem. In the 1980s, a federal push on the Hells Angels resulted in arrests of several of the club's top leaders, weakening the organization. But the group has recently expanded rapidly, doubling its membership to an estimated 2,000 over the past decade. A turf war with rival clubs came to a head last winter with a deadly shooting on Long Island, N.Y., and then escalated in a bloody gunfight on a casino floor in Laughlin, Nev., last April

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