Reputed Pagans leaders in court this week on drug charges
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].