Ohio court tosses convictions against gang members

By N0ly · Aug 3, 2008 · Updated Oct 13, 2008 ·
  1. N0ly
    TOLEDO, Ohio - A federal appeals court on Friday tossed out racketeering convictions against two motorcycle gang members, including an Indianapolis man who's the former leader of one of the nation's largest gangs.

    The court also ordered that four others from the Outlaws motorcycle club should receive new sentences.

    Thirteen members of the Outlaws gang were convicted in 2004 on charges including racketeering and conspiracy to distribute drugs. Prosecutors said the Outlaws distributed cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines and LSD through a network of its clubs.

    Their leader, James "Frank" Wheeler, of Indianapolis, appealed his conviction, arguing that he was essentially convicted on the same charges at an earlier trial in Florida.

    The Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati agreed and overturned his racketeering conviction. Wheeler, though, won't be getting out of prison because he is still serving a life sentence for a drug conviction.

    He also was sentenced to 16{ years in prison for racketeering and other crimes in Florida.

    Following his conviction in Ohio, U.S. District Judge David Katz said Wheeler created an atmosphere of evil and ruled an organization of crime, fear and violence.

    In 1999, Wheeler took control and oversaw the operation in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and Oklahoma, threatening and assaulting rivals to protect the territory.

    The Outlaws were one of the nation's four largest motorcycle gangs, along with the Hell's Angels, Pagans and Bandidos. The Outlaws have chapters in 21 states, Europe, Canada and Australia.

    The appeals court on Friday also overturned the racketeering and conspiracy convictions of Gregory Driver and ordered that he be resentenced on a drug conspiracy charge. The court said there was not enough evidence to convict him.

    The court also upheld convictions but ordered new sentences for Gary Hohn, former president of the Dayton chapter; David Mays, former national enforcer; Patrick Puttick; and Jason Fowler.

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