COLUMBIA — In a surprising development in the ongoing federal weapon, drug and conspiracy trial against Hells Angels motorcycle members, one of the five defendants was freed Thursday after the judge ruled prosecutors had not shown sufficient evidence against him.
Charges remain against the other four defendants in a trial characterized over the past three weeks by heavy security and the testimony of a former New York mobster turned FBI informant and a current Hells Angel in prison on drug charges.
The prosecution rested Thursday in U.S. District Court, then Judge Cameron Currie dismissed the charges against Donald Boersma of Clover, called Brooklyn Donnie by law enforcement, by issuing a directed verdict of not guilty. Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Drake confirmed the charges against Boersma were dismissed by the judge but declined further comment.
Boersma said after he was freed from custody that he was relieved the case against him is over, and wanted to give a shout out to his lawyer, Herbert Louthian Sr.
I told my lawyer I was not guilty and he believed in me, Boersma said.
Louthian Sr., who successfully argued that Boersma should receive a directed verdict of not guilty after prosecutors spent three weeks trying to prove a case, said that Boersma "had the courage" to fight to clear his name after allegations that he was part of a crime conspiracy involving motorcyclists.
Louthian declined to speak about the other four defendants or the ongoing trial in specifics, but did say the government's claims against Boersma had no basis in the evidence presented.
"I felt the government's case was weak," Louthian said about the charges against Boersma. "They (federal prosecutors and police) had a good story, but didn't have the facts to support it."
Prosecutors allege the Rock Hill and Lexington chapters of the Hells Angels - the Rock Hill chapter was called Rock Hell - sold drugs and weapons and laundered money in an ongoing crime trade with a web that spread as far as the northeast. But defense lawyers have claimed for weeks that the Angels defy custom and common cultural practices, but are not criminals.
Boersma was charged as part of a two-state Carolinas raid that netted 20 arrests in June 2012. Boersma said he was jailed while still recovering from an early 2012 motorcycle wreck.
I was innocent - I didnt do anything, Boersma said after his release.
Joe Dillulio, nicknamed Midas in the sting, was paid $6,000 a month to be an FBI informant who bought drugs and guns from Hells Angels, prosecutors say. A Hells Angels member from Charleston in prison on drug charges also testified that the bikers allegedly controlled the methamphetamine trade in the state, but that man is also seeking a reduced sentence.
Even with the case against Boersma not proven, the trial of against the other four Hells Angels will continue, said Drake, the federal prosecutor. Still facing charges that include federal racketeering allegations are: Mark William Baker, the Rock Hell club president who is also known as Lightning; David Channing Oiler, a Hells Angel known as Gravel Dave; Bruce James Long, a Hells Angel known as Bruce-Bruce; and Thomas McManus Plyler, a Hells Angel known as Uncle Tom.
Boersma declined to discuss the trial or the case against the Hells Angels. He had been identified by law enforcement in court documents as a prospective member.
I wish my good friends good luck in the rest of the trial, Boersma said.
The trial is expected to resume Monday.
Andrew Dys * 803-329-4065