October 1, 1998
Springfield, MA - After three weeks of trial in federal district court in Springfield, Massachusetts, four members of the Diablos Motorcycle Club entered guilty pleas to various charges including racketeering, conspiracy to commit murder, murder for hire, drug distribution, firearms charges and interstate transportation of stolen motor vehicles. Four defendants remain and the trial continues this week.
Donald K. Stern, United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, Barry W. Mawn, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Boston Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, George C. Festa, Special Agent-in-Charge of the New England Division of Drug Enforcement Administration, New Haven County State's Attorney Michael Dearington, Colonel Reid Hillman of the Massachusetts State Police, and Wallingford, Connecticut Police Chief Douglas Dortenzio jointly announced that Stefano Bertoldo, Shane Baltas, Raymond Stone, And Kenneth Sears, pled guilty last week.
Bertoldo, a/k/a ``Nino'', age 31, of 35 North Spring Street, Meriden, Connecticut, pled to RICO and RICO conspiracy, murder for hire, stolen vehicles, and cocaine conspiracy charges.
Baltas, 29, pled guilty to RICO and RICO conspiracy, cocaine conspiracy, and illegal possession of a firearm.
Stone, a/k/a ``Stoney'', 36, of 56 Grove Street, Meriden, Connecticut, pled to conspiracy to commit murder, heroin conspiracy, and carrying a firearm during a drug offense.
Sears, age 26, 156 Grove Street, Meriden, Connecticut, pled on September 23, 1998 to RICO and RICO conspiracy, cocaine conspiracy and stolen vehicles.
Bertoldo and Baltas entered guilty pleas on September 24, 1998. On the same date, as part of a plea agreement with federal prosecutors, Stone pled guilty to conspiracy to commit murder in Connecticut Superior Court in New Haven. On September 28, 1998, he entered his guilty plea in federal district court in Springfield.
According to the affidavits on file in federal district court and evidence introduced at trial, all of the defendants are members of the Massachusetts or Connecticut chapters of the Diablos, a national outlaw motorcycle gang founded in 1964 in San Bernardino, California, and run by defendant John Baltas, current national president of the Diablos. The Diablos presently have chapters in Springfield, Massachusetts; Meriden, Connecticut; Tamworth, New Hampshire; Terre Haute, Indiana; and San Bernardino, San Diego and San Fernando Valley, California.
Bertolodo, president of the Connecticut chapter, admitted before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor, that he had solicited an undercover FBI Agent to murder a Meriden police officer early in 1996. He also pled guilty to conspiring with Sears and Baltas to possess cocaine with intent to distribute it. Bertoldo, Sears and Baltas, were arrested at the Northampton Airport on April 11, 1996, as they took delivery of 20 kilograms of cocaine from undercover FBI Agents.
Stone pled guilty to conspiring to murder Michael D'Amato, a member of a rival motorcycle club known as the James Gang. A federal prosecutor stated that D'Amato was killed in a drive-by shooting on April 5, 1992, while riding his motorcycle near the James Gang clubhouse in Yalesville, Connecticut. Witnesses stated that the fatal shots were fired from a black pick-up truck that Stone occupied when he left the Diablos clubhouse shortly before the shooting. In the days following the murder, Stone admitted to other Diablos that he participated in the shooting and was angry because he didn't have time to take the victim's James Gang colors.
The undercover investigation into the Diablos began four years ago and involved a variety of investigative techniques, including infiltration of the gang by undercover informants and agents; electronic monitoring of conversations between gang members; and the operation of an undercover motorcycle shop in Chicopee which the FBI used to purchase stolen motor vehicles from the Diablos.
Under the direction of the FBI, a confidential informant in the case began to associate with the Diablos in October of 1994, and became a full member of the Springfield, Massachusetts chapter in March of 1995. During his membership in the gang, the informant recorded over 100 conversations with the Diablos. These conversations and other investigative techniques revealed that the Diablos frequently engaged in crimes of violence, drug trafficking, vehicle theft, and firearms offenses.
Thirteen of the seventeen Diablos defendants have now pled guilty. The trial of national president Jack Baltas and Diablos Dan LaFreniere, James Moore and Richard Houle is presently continuing before Judge Ponsor.
The continuing investigation is being conducted by agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration; Massachusetts and Connecticut State Police, and the Wallingford, Connecticut Police Department; with assistance from the CPAC Units of Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel, Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett, and New Haven County State's Attorney Michael Dearington. The Massachusetts case is being prosecuted by C. Jeffrey Kinder, Chief of Stern's Springfield Office, Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Levchuk, and Trial Attorney Amy Chang Lee of the Justice Department's Organized Crime and Racketeering Section.
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