OFF THE WIRE
An FBI agent admitted on Friday that his informant was a “loose cannon” as a judge concluded three days of pretrial hearings in the racketeering case against members of the Chosen Few motorcycle club.
And the judge indicated that any decision on claims of “outrageous governmental conduct” in the biker investigation is probably months away.
U. S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy said he will hear the next oral arguments in the case on July 28.
Defense attorneys claim that the FBI and U. S. Attorney’s office presented misleading information to a judge who allowed listening devices to be placed in the Chosen Few’s Depew clubhouse, and also presented false information to a grand jury.
The grand jury indicted 20 Chosen Few bikers on racketeering charges in May 2009. Defense attorneys claim the FBI’s main informant in the case — former Chosen Few member David Ignasiak — engaged in criminal conduct while working as a paid FBI informer.
FBI Special Agent Frank Runles, who worked closely with Ignasiak on the case, testified Friday afternoon that he considered Ignasiak a “loose cannon.” The agent said he was upset that Ignasiak went with three other Chosen Few members who assaulted a member of the rival Kingsmen gxxg Aug. 20, 2008.
Runles said Ignasiak took part in the attack despite repeated warnings from the FBI not to get involved in violent crimes with the Chosen Few.
“I was upset with him for allowing himself to get into that situation,” Runles testified. He said he reported Ignasiak’s conduct to his superiors in the FBI, and to federal prosecutors, but the feds continued to use Ignasiak as an informer for months afterward.
The FBI and U. S. Attorney’s office presented Ignasiak’s word as fact to the grand jury, despite their concerns about him, said the three lead defense lawyers, Paul J. Cambria, Joseph M. LaTona and Angelo Musitano.
Anthony M. Bruce, the lead prosecutor, denied any wrongdoing. He said agents had obtained plenty of evidence that the Chosen Few were involved in criminal activities, including fire-bombings, assaults and death threats aimed at rival gxxgs.
Bruce said Chosen Few president Alex Koschtschuk went into a tirade on Aug. 22, 2008, criticizing other Chosen Few members for not inflicting enough injuries on the Kingsmen members who had been assaulted with an ax handle two nights earlier.
“When you do somebody, they gotta be [in] la-la land,” Koschtschuk said, in a transcript of the tirade that was presented in court this week. “They gotta be stone-cold unconscious.
“How you [expletive] missed, I don’t [expletive] know,” he continued. “You played softball. You can hit a softball, how can you miss a body? You know, how do you hit somebody and let him stagger away with the bike?”
Defense lawyers claim Ignasiak was an active participant, directing others during the beating. They claim Bruce and the FBI minimized Ignasiak’s involvement when presenting the case to a grand jury.
Any ruling that McCarthy makes on the government conduct issue will have to be reviewed by District Judge William M. Skretny, who eventually will hear the trial.
Ignasiak, who now lives outside Western New York, contacted The Buffalo News on Tuesday to say he provided accurate information to the feds about the Chosen Few. If a jury hears all the tapes from the Chosen Few clubhouse, all the defendants will be convicted, Ignasiak told The News.