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Photos by Swikar Patel | The Journal Gazette
A tactical officer stands guard outside the Outlaws motorcycle clubhouse in the 1200 block of West Main Street as evidence boxes are brought inside.

Feds sting Outlaws biker gang

Local raid part of major drug, extortion case

A worker removes a sign Wednesday after federal agents raided the Outlaws’ clubhouse.

Dozens of people connected to the Outlaws motorcycle gang were arrested during early-morning raids Wednesday, including two Fort Wayne locations, that federal prosecutors said were aimed at dismantling a criminal organization where violence was part of doing business.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday shows that 42 people, including one Fort Wayne man, are facing charges that include drug trafficking, extortion, money laundering, witness tampering and illegal gambling.

The charges, which follow an investigation lasting more than a year, were filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.

Investigators used a variety of ways to infiltrate the gang, including wiretaps, drug buys and an undercover agent who posed as an extortion victim, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brad Blackington, the lead prosecutor in the case.

“Basically, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies threw the kitchen sink at these folks,” he said.

Every member of the Outlaws Indianapolis chapter is currently in custody, along with several gang associates, Blackington said. Members of the motorcycle group’s chapters in Ohio and Illinois also were arrested, U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett said in Indianapolis.

Fort Wayne resident Steve A. Reynolds, 37, a member of the Fort Wayne chapter of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, was among those arrested. He is charged with racketeering, specifically using a telephone to arrange an illegal prescription drug transaction, according to the indictment.

Only one suspect remained at large Wednesday following the raids in several Indiana cities and towns that involved more than 300 officers from federal, state and local agencies. The raids netted about 35 guns including several assault rifles, about $14,000 in cash and more than a dozen motorcycles, Hogsett said.

In Fort Wayne, federal agents and law enforcement officers with the FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force raided two locations simultaneously – the motorcycle gang’s clubhouse, a two-story black brick building in the 1200 block of West Main Street, and a house a few blocks away in the 1200 block of Elm Street.

Sources told The Journal Gazette that officers with Fort Wayne Police Department’s Emergency Services Team helped in the raid on the clubhouse, while officers from Allen County Sheriff Department’s SWAT team handled the raid on the house.

Neighbors in the area of the clubhouse, just west of downtown, were awakened early Wednesday by the sound of the explosive charges blowing the front door off the Outlaws clubhouse.

Investigators said the gang’s criminal operations included using violence to collect debts, insurance fraud schemes and running illegal gambling. The 70-page indictment also alleges the gang trafficked drugs, including cocaine and prescription painkillers.

Joshua N. Bowser, the first suspect named in the indictment and among those facing the most charges, was described by authorities as the gang’s Indianapolis enforcer. Among other things, he is accused of conspiring with Indianapolis businessman Charles N. Ernstes II, who also is charged.

According to court documents, Ernstes and Bowser conspired to assault a person who owed Ernstes $138,000 for a “business cash infusion.” In February 2011, Ernstes paid Bowser for coordinating the assault on the individual, according to court documents.

Messages were left by The Associated Press at phone listings for Ernstes’ work and home. There was no home phone number listed for Bowser.

According to the company’s website, Charles N. Ernstes II is the president of Metro Elevator in Indianapolis and has a degree from Purdue University in civil engineering.

In another part of the indictment, again involving the use of violence to collect a debt, two members of the Indianapolis chapter came to Fort Wayne to confront an undercover agent whom they said owed an associate money for a car.

In early January, Bowser and Reynolds, wearing club insignias, met the man in the parking lot of Spiece Fieldhouse. Bowser identified himself as a “collection agent,” and said “you better start paying … Next time we see you, it’ll be ugly.”

On Jan. 30, Bowser and Jamie “Jammer” Bolinger, another indicted suspect, collected about $400 from the individual at a Wells Street tattoo parlor. A similar encounter in late February occurred at the Main Street clubhouse, this time to collect $500, according to court documents.

Another suspect was an Indianapolis hospital employee accused of being involved in trafficking prescription drugs, investigators said.

According to court documents, Pamela K. Cummins, 44, worked at the Indiana University Medical Center and obtained prescription drugs, such as Vicodin and morphine, for Bowser. Bowser then distributed the drugs to other individuals.

The suspect still at large, 28-year-old Terrell Adams, is being sought on drug charges and is not a member of the Outlaws, prosecutors said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.