Home Detroit Press Releases 2009 Members of “Highwaymen Motorcycle Club” Indicted on Violent Crime, Drug, and Gun Charges

Members of “Highwaymen Motorcycle Club” Indicted on Violent Crime, Drug, and Gun Charges
Arrests Part of Ongoing Initiative Targeting the “Highwaymen”

U.S. Attorney’s Office May 14, 2009
  • Eastern District of Michigan (313) 226-9100

DETROIT, MI—Seventy-four members and associates of the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club were charged in a superseding indictment, unsealed today in Detroit, on charges including participating in the affairs of a corrupt organization through a pattern of racketeering activity (RICO), committing violent crimes in aid of racketeering, distributing controlled substances, and committing various federal gun violations, announced United States Attorney Terrence Berg.

U.S. Attorney Berg was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Field Division, Police Chief James Barren, Detroit Police Department, Col. Peter Munoz, Michigan State Police, and Deputy Chief James Slater, Brownstown Township Police Department.

As alleged in the indictment, the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club (HMC) was founded in Detroit in 1954, and has chapters not only within the city, but also within several other cities throughout Michigan and several other states. The HMC is comprised of members and associates who engage in acts and threats involving attempted murder, robbery, arson, and extortion, in violation of the laws of the State of Michigan, and acts involving theft, transportation of stolen property, and trafficking in controlled substances, in violation of federal law. The HMC are a structured and hierarchical organization, with each chapter having a President, Vice President, Treasurer, Sergeant at Arms or enforcer, and general members. The HMC National President traditionally controls the activities of all HMC members, with the Detroit Chapter President standing as the second in command.

The following members and gang associates were indicted:

  • C Aref “Steve” Nagi
  • Nat “Bolo” Sanchez
  • James “Jimmy” Gebara
  • Erick “Pok-a-dot” Manners
  • Michael “Cocoa” Cicchetti
  • Leonard “Bo” Moore
  • Donald Gill
  • Miseal “Meecho” Gonzalez
  • Michael Watson
  • Aaron “Bam” Roberts
  • Tamara Swiden
  • Johnny “JD” Jarrell
  • Gary “Junior” Ball Jr.
  • Leonard “Dad” Moore
  • Gerald “Byrd” Peters
  • Joseph “Little Joe” Whiting
  • Robert “Bobby” Burton
  • Ronald Hatmaker
  • Michael “Chopper” Kukla
  • Louis “Dirty Lou” Fitzner
  • Darrell “Ridgerunner” Bryant
  • John “Recon” Barnett
  • Robert “Kwik” Flowers
  • Michael “Spanky” Toney
  • Gerald “Pete” Baggett
  • Jeffrey Miner
  • Keith “Monk” Hood
  • Dennis “Gone” Vanhulle
  • Jeff “Pitbull” Pittman
  • David “Conan” Reed
  • Glenn Ballestero
  • Sean Donovan
  • Anthony “Mad Anthony” Clark
  • Richard Younkin
  • Manous “Lightfoot” Sturgill
  • Donald “Daddy D” Messer Sr.
  • Chris “Lil Dawg” Miller
  • Gary “Grizz” Eizak
  • Juan Flores
  • Johnny “Jackrabbit” Rex
  • Richard “Freestyle” Wilkins
  • William “Speed” Bridges
  • John Duffey
  • Eugene “G-No” Trumph
  • David “Stifler” Tomlan
  • Rusty Lapalme
  • Emiliano “Milo” Ruiz
  • Daniel “Rocket” Sanchez
  • Steven Rhoads
  • Frank “Frankie the Bullet” Christopher
  • Dennis Brevard
  • Daniel “Angel” Espino
  • Erica Gafford
  • Sheryl Anne Gafford
  • Eric “Bull” Potts
  • Anton “Breaker” Reiner
  • Jeffrey “Jethro” Olko
  • Hatim “Tim” Attallah
  • William Bennett
  • Gina Daigle
  • Avelino “Joe” Ventura
  • Alton Bernard Holliday
  • Frank Makdesian
  • Adam Winkler
  • Donald Messer Jr.
  • Daniel Palmer
  • Joseph “Gaptooth” Burton
  • Robert “Bizzy” Whitehouse
  • Delilah Miller
  • Kathy Ann Whitehouse
  • Wayne “Torch” Wright
  • Timothy Sosnovske
  • John Thomas
  • Randell Hutchinson

The 35-count indictment alleges that since 2000, the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club was an enterprise whose members allegedly committed, attempted, and threatened to commit acts of violence to protect and expand the gang’s criminal operations. Defendants Aref Nagi, Michael Cicchetti, Leonard “Bo” Moore, Johnny Jarrell, Gary Ball Jr., Leonard “Dad” Moore, Gerald Peters, Joseph Whiting, Robert Burton, Ronald Hatmaker, Michael Kukla, Louis Fitzner, Darrell Bryant, John Barnett, Robert Flowers, and Michael Toney were leaders of the enterprise who directed other members of the enterprise in carrying out unlawful acts and other activities in furtherance of the conduct of the affairs of the enterprise.

According to the indictment, several of the defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder in aid of racketeering, and conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering, Several other defendants are charged with allegedly assaulting various individuals, to include rival club members, with dangerous weapons, often endangering the lives of innocent bystanders. Numerous defendants allegedly trafficked in the illegal sale of drugs, including cocaine, steroids, marijuana, ecstasy and other controlled substances, while others were charged with various firearms offenses for either being a felon in possession of a firearm, or using a firearm during and in relation to a drug trafficking offense or crime of violence.

“This prosecution seeks to cripple the organized criminal enterprise which the Highwaymen Motorcycle Club is charged with operating,” said U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg. “When violent crimes and drug trafficking are committed as part of a disciplined and highly organized gang, there is a much greater danger to society that must be addressed by the combined forces of federal, state and local law enforcement, as we have done today. I commend the excellent cooperation and hard work of the law enforcement agencies who conducted the thorough investigation that led to the charges today.”

"Dismantling violent gangs is a continuing priority for the FBI. This indictment is the direct result of joint efforts with our federal, state and local law enforcement partners, and we will continue to work diligently with our colleagues to investigate and eradicate street gangs and the violence they perpetrate," said FBI Special Agent in Charge Andrew G. Arena. "Together we are committed to restoring safety and security to our neighborhoods."

Col. Peter Munoz, Michigan State Police stated, "This case is a excellent example of what can be accomplished when state, local and federal authorities work collaboratively and share information to successfully investigate and prosecute a criminal entity such as the Highwaymen. "

Deputy Chief James Slater stated, “This case is a fine example of what can be accomplished when law enforcement agencies from all levels of government pull their resources together to fight violent crime. The Brownstown Township Police Department will continue to work closely with our federal partners in making out communities safer.”

The charges of violent crime in aid of racketeering carry maximum statutory sentences of up to 20 years in prison. The separate drug counts in the indictment carry various maximum statutory sentences, including up to 40 years in prison for distribution of cocaine. The defendants also face various maximum sentences on the gun charges, such as a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison for possession of a firearm following three prior felony convictions.

In announcing the Indictment, United States Attorney Terrence Berg commended the work of the Special Agents of the Detroit Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Detroit Police Department, the Michigan State Police, Brownstown Township Police Department, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department, Macomb County Sheriff’s Department, Melvindale Police Department and the Garden City Police Department. The prosecution of the case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diane Marion and Christopher Graveline.

An indictment is only a charge and not evidence of guilty. A defendant is presumed innocent and the burden is on the government to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.