Cocaine and Marijuana and The Iron Horsemen Motorcycle
By: Trevor Maxwell, Staff Writer
Portland Press Herald
March 25, 2008
Sixteen people have been arrested, and three more are wanted by federal agents, in a drug trafficking sweep that targets one of the largest motorcycle clubs active in Maine, the Iron Horsemen.
Court records in Portland, unsealed late last week, show the defendants were indicted by a federal grand jury on March 12.
They each face one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, and some face a range of other counts as well.
York County Sheriff Maurice Ouellette said the defendants are members or supporters of the Iron Horsemen Motorcycle Club, and most of them live in Old Orchard Beach, Limerick and nearby towns.
The year-long investigation started at the county level and expanded to include the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Ouellette said. The U.S. Attorney's Office is prosecuting the case.
A wiretapping operation captured 40 telephone calls between July and September last year, implicating the defendants. Some of them face a minimum of 10 years in prison, while others alleged to have less involvement would face less time.
The three people still wanted by federal agents are Richard Szpyt of Haverhill, Mass.; Michael Balot of South Portland; and Robert Boothby of Monson.
Szpyt owns a house in Old Orchard Beach that has been a meeting spot for the Iron Horsemen.
As part of the charges, prosecutors want that property turned over to the federal government.
Portland police Sgt. Bob Martin, whose department is not involved in the case, tracks the activity of motorcycle gangs in Maine, including the Iron Horsemen, Outlaws and Hells Angels.
The clubs are classified as gangs by police because they use distinct colors and insignias, organizational structures, and members have used violence in disputes about territory, Martin said.
A few years ago, Martin estimated that the Iron Horsemen had about 100 members and active supporters in Maine.
Biker gang violence escalated in Portland's Old Port earlier this decade, he said, but has died down since 2004, largely because the Iron Horsemen reached a truce with the Outlaws.
"They are organized, they are large, they do have that ability to cause fear to other people, because of their status," Martin said of the Iron Horsemen. "They have been flying under the radar for quite a while."
The lead government lawyer, Daniel Perry, an assistant U.S. attorney based in Portland, said Monday he is prohibited from discussing details of the investigation.
Szpyt is the only non-Maine resident charged in this case, and was the first defendant named in the indictment.
He goes by the name "Zip" within the Iron Horsemen Motorcycle Club.
Along with the drug conspiracy charges, Szpyt faces a charge of being a felon in possession of firearms, including two shotguns, three rifles and two handguns.
He was convicted in Massachusetts in 1995 for a drug distribution charge, according to the indictment.
Old Orchard Beach records show that Szpyt bought a property at 94 Ross Road -- a ranch-style home on 1.2 acres -- early last year from the Iron Horsemen Motorcycle Club Inc. The club had bought the property in November 2005 for $195,000, and then sold it to Szpyt for $200,000.
Keith Babin, deputy police chief for the town, said his department was aware that the property was being used as an Iron Horsemen clubhouse, and they have had no problems there.
The club has even worked with police, providing contact information and giving the department a heads-up prior to gatherings. The latest event, a New Year's Eve party for Iron Horsemen members from several states, went off without complaints, Babin said.
Five of the 16 defendants who have been arrested remain in federal custody: Robert Sanborn of Old Orchard Beach, James Weston of Old Orchard Beach, Sherwood Jordan of Albany, Daniel Guarino of Old Orchard Beach, and Charles Green of East Dixfield.
Ten posted bonds and have been released: Lee Chase of Sanford, Andre Charron of Standish, Lara Sanborn of Old Orchard Beach, Robert Bouthot of Biddeford, Zachary Deveau of Limerick, Kelley Monahan of Newfield, Walter Towle Jr. of Kezar Falls, Bruce Hill of Limerick, Michael Gochie of Limerick and Cynthia Moore of Saco. Michael Martin of Limerick was released on his own recognizance.
Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Portland Press Herald - Maine Sunday Telegram