The raid on an Old Orchard Beach house Tuesday in which a reputed regional leader of the Outlaws motorcycle gang was shot and killed was the product of two years of undercover police work that shone light on the inner workings of the organization.

A 50-page federal indictment summarizing the case against 27 Outlaws exposes what prosecutors say is a criminal conspiracy to commit violence, but it also reveals lesser-known aspects of life as a club member.

The club’s fundamental principles are fondness for American-made motorcycles and loyalty to fellow members.

The club also is known for its hatred of and competition with rival motorcycle clubs, namely the Hells Angels and affiliated clubs.

That rivalry is at the heart of the federal racketeering charges, which cite orders given through the club’s chain of command to commit illegal acts such as attempted murder — in particular, the shooting of a Hells Angels member last year in Canaan. The group is also charged with coordinating crimes including illegal gambling, drug trafficking and extortion.

“The Outlaws is a highly organized criminal enterprise with a defined, multi-level chain of command,” the indictment says. It also describes the American Outlaw Association:

The group is highly structured, with local chapters that are grouped into regions, known by different colors. Maine is in the red region, which covers most of New England and a portion of Pennsylvania. The copper region includes the southern Atlantic states.

Regional bosses report to the national president, who is elected by members and has a great deal of power. Alleged national President Jack Rosga was among those arrested Tuesday.

Each chapter has a president, vice president, treasurer and enforcer. Regional meetings are held regularly, and a representative of each chapter must show up, though the location and timing of meetings are closely guarded secrets.

Any man over 21 can join if he owns an American-made motorcycle and is unanimously approved by all members of the chapter he seeks to join.

Prospective members have a lengthy probationary period to gauge commitment and prevent infiltration by law enforcement.

Members can also wear “colors,” the club’s telltale insignia, on a denim or leather vest.

Outlaws colors depict a skull over crossed engine pistons. Above the image is the word “Outlaws” and below it the location of the member’s chapter.

Women are not allowed to join, though some wear patches that read: “Property of the Outlaws.”

Members often refer to themselves as “One Percenters,” a reference to a statement by the American Motorcycle Association in the 1940s that 99 percent of motorcycle club members are law-abiding, and implying the other 1 percent are not.

The club has several slogans, often communicated through initials: OFFO means Outlaws Forever, Forever Outlaws; GFOD stands for “God Forgives, Outlaws Don’t.” Members who commit a violent act on behalf of the club can earn an “SS” patch.

CLUBS RELATIVELY LOW-KEY

Stealing the colors from a rival club’s member is a major sign of disrespect and confers status on the person who did it.

One of the charges on which the indictment is based is an alleged attempted murder in New Hampshire, when former Maine chapter President Joseph Allman and others ran a Diablos member off the road and as he lay unconscious, stole his colors.

The group’s finances depend on dues of about $100 per member per month, some of which is funneled to the national organization. Thomas Mayne, who was killed by federal agents in a raid this month in Old Orchard Beach, was reportedly the treasurer for the red region. The money pays for lawyers, funeral expenses and periodic motorcycle trips.

Those who miss meetings, don’t pay dues or are disrespectful to other members can be fined, assaulted or kicked out of the club. Sometimes, members or prospective members are ordered to commit violent crimes or face penalties.

The Outlaws’ organizational structure actually makes it easier for authorities to interact with the group. Members obey group leadership.

Portland police met with regional leaders in 2005 and explained that bringing the group’s conflict with the Hells Angels affiliates into Portland would invite a heavy law enforcement reaction.

After some isolated violent skirmishes, the city’s downtown was largely ignored.

The Outlaws operate out of their clubhouse in Dayton, a location that was searched as part of Tuesday’s crackdown.

Besides the Outlaws and Hells Angels, outlaw motorcycle clubs in Maine include the Saracens, Exiles, Vietnam Vets Northeast, Black Pistons, Iron Horsemen, Diablos and others.

“We’ve had clubs here for quite some time, actually,” said State Police Chief Col. Patrick Fleming. “We have members from just about all the national clubs,” though he couldn’t estimate how many members in all there are in the state.

“I think that would be surprising to people because they are pretty low-key when they are here. Most people might see them when out on a ride and wearing colors, but usually that’s just in passing,” he said.

He noted the groups may be less visible in Maine because of its rural nature and short riding season.

Clubhouses tend to be isolated, but many members work regular jobs such as mechanics or other trades.

“The image that’s painted of club members is unfair,” said Leonard Sharon, a lawyer who has represented members of different motorcycle groups. “I think you do run into the members on a daily basis, when they’re working and going about their daily lives. They don’t always wear their patches.”

Mary Sauschuck, a detective with the Portland Police Department who has communicated with club leaders, noted that one former president owns his own company, though she would not identify it.

LITTLE CRIMINAL HISTORY

Outlaws members say they are not the marauding sociopaths sometimes portrayed in movies. They say that reputation is exaggerated and outdated. They dislike being called a gang, preferring the term “motorcycle club,” though police say they fit the definition of a gang.

For all their ferocious reputation, the Maine Outlaws targeted in this month’s raid here have little in their records to suggest they are career criminals, though serious crimes are alleged in the indictment.

The State Bureau of Identification reports that Mayne was convicted of criminal mischief in 1988 and carrying a concealed weapon in 2001, both misdemeanors.

Kenneth Chretien of Old Orchard Beach, a member who was arrested in the same raid, was convicted in 2001 of carrying a concealed weapon.

Current club President Thomas Benvie, who faces 20 years on federal racketeering charges, was convicted in 1988 of simple assault and received a suspended sentence.

Still, the indictment accuses Mayne — along with Mainer Michael Pedini — of shooting a Hells Angels member in Canaan, and he allegedly shot at federal agents outside his house before he was killed.

The indictment also charges bikers in Fredericksburg, Va., with attacking a black man because of his race, then trying to intimidate witnesses.

Police say that even though bikers primarily target rivals, the general public can get hurt.

A fight between motorcycle club members at a Manchester, N.H., pizza parlor in April left a teenager with shotgun pellets lodged in his hand.

“A lot of the criminal conduct they partake in is between the rival gangs, but it happens in towns and cities,” Sauschuck said. 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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