Reputed Pagans leaders in court this week on drug charges |

Reputed Pagans leaders in court this week on drug charges

Dennis “Rooster” Katona
Raymond Overly Jr.

A once-thriving outlaw motorcycle club has lost influence in recent years with the arrests and convictions of two of its leaders in Westmoreland County, a state prosecutor said Monday.

Deputy Attorney General Michael Ahwesh said the Pagans, whose members have been linked to illegal drug dealing in the region, have been unable to recruit younger participants as members go to prison or die.

“They’re still around but not as active as they were,” Ahwesh said. “They’re getting old and not being replaced.”

The Pagans’ former national leader, Dennis “Rooster” Katona of Hempfield, was convicted Monday of drug offenses after a brief nonjury trial.

Judge Debra Pezze immediately sentenced Katona to 40 to 80 months in prison.

Katona, who had been free on bond since August 2011, was taken away in handcuffs to begin serving his sentence.

Raymond “Pete” Overly, the man police contend ran the Westmoreland County chapter of the Pagans, is scheduled to plead guilty to drug charges on Wednesday.

Overly, 41, was charged with numerous drug offenses and racketeering for allegedly operating the Pagans drug business out of his defunct motorcycle shop in Mt. Pleasant. A state grand jury alleged in a 2009 presentment that Overly controlled the local outlaw motorcycle gang. Overly was not arrested until May 15 in Lake City, Fla.

Katona was charged with dealing drugs out of his Hempfield home, according to Ahwesh.

“He was doing it on his own. We don’t think the club was involved,” Ahwesh said.

Katona, 48, was charged in June 2011 after police searched his Ember Lane home and found more than 84 grams of cocaine and nearly 100 grams of methamphetamine with a combined street value of $20,000, according to police.

The search turned up nearly $4,000, a digital scale used to weigh drugs and a document that indicated who owed Katona money, police reported.

During a hearing last year, officers testified that as many as 30 state troopers stormed the property and searched the home as Katona and his wife sat on a living room sofa. The drugs and money were found in a bedroom.

There was no testimony given during Monday’s trial. Both the prosecution and defense agreed to a set of facts about the case.

Defense attorney Paul Boas argued Katona should be found not guilty because no drugs were found directly in his possession, and the prosecution was unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the drugs found belonged to Katona.

Boas then argued that his client should receive less time in prison.

“Despite the PR (public relations) persona of Mr. Katona, he is a good family man,” Boas said.

According to court records, Katona, who served as the Pagans’ national president, previously spent 63 months in federal prison for his role in a 2002 attack on the Hells Angels at the “Hellraiser Ball” in Long Island, N.Y.

Katona was among 73 Pagans charged in the brawl. One Pagan was killed. Ten men were injured.

In 2009, a statewide grand jury seated in Allegheny County reported the Pagans had chapters in Pittsburgh, McKeesport, Fayette City in Fayette County and Fallowfield in Washington County.

Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or [email protected].

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.