All he wanted was to start his own recreational motorcycle club with his buddies.
Instead, a Nova Scotia businessman wound up installing a panic alarm in his home, selling his Harley Davidson and never riding again.
Three members of the province’s “dominant” motorcycle club — the Bacchus Motorcycle Club (BMC) — were sentenced this week to jail terms of 18 months to three years after being found guilty of extortion, harassment, intimidation and threatening behaviour against the man, capping off a case that, according to the judge, provided “insight into a sinister, and in my view criminal, reality in the motorcycling milieu in Nova Scotia, and the other three Atlantic provinces.”
The victim, a “simple motorcycle enthusiast” identified in court as “RM,” wanted in the spring of 2012 to start up his own full-fledged, three-piece patch motorcycle club. After doing research on the internet and talking with members of the motorcycle community, RM decided it was best to approach BMC — a club with a history of associating with the Hells Angels — to get their approval.
BMC representative Patrick James told RM he could neither start his own motorcycle club or an offshoot of an existing one.
This is your only chance
“What you do is you start off with a one-piece patch. You’re a riding club. Then, maybe after a couple of years you gain respect in the area and people get to know you. Then we move you up, we give you permission to have possibly a two-piece patch,” he is said to have told RM.
“If it seems right that you want to have a three-piece patch, you come to us and we’ll decide if you have enough time in. … What you’re doing is disrespecting all these other clubs that have worked their way up.”
Thinking he was following James’ instructions, RM proceeded weeks later to start a Nova Scotia chapter of the Montreal-based Brotherhood Motorcycle Club after receiving approval from that club for his members to wear one-piece Brotherhood patches on the backs of their vests.
“Mr. James was furious” after seeing pictures on Facebook, according to court records. James showed up at RM’s workplace and demanded he immediately destroy all vests with Brotherhood patches and that the Brotherhood post on its Facebook page that it was not starting a chapter in Nova Scotia.
“I’m giving you a get-out-of-jail-free card here,” James is said to have told RM, according to records.
“Do you understand what I’m f***ing saying to you? … This is your only chance.”
James pointed at pictures of RM’s family and told him to “get this taken care of.”
RM and the Brotherhood complied.
In September 2012, RM attended a “Bikers Down” charity event in Lower Sackville, N.S., and was confronted by two other members of BMC, Duayne Howe and David Pearce.
I did not mean any disrespect
One witness told the court the conversation grew louder and that she overheard the words “disrespect,” “no forgiveness” and “don’t show your face at any other biker events.” RM was apologetic, saying things like, “I’m sorry man” and “I did not mean any disrespect.”
Another witness testified that Howe was doing the talking while Pearce had his “chest puffed out.” RM was “pale as a ghost.”
Following the incident, police had special patrols go by RM’s home. RM and his wife had a panic alarm installed in their house and never rode their motorcycles again, court heard. Instead, they sold them.
In finding all three men guilty earlier this year, Nova Scotia Supreme Court Judge Peter Rosinski also concluded that the Bacchus Motorcycle Club, headquartered in Albert County, N.B., met the definition of a “criminal organization” — the first time such a designation had been given to a motorcycle club in the province.
The judge cited the testimony of a police expert, who said BMC members modelled themselves after the Hells Angels, adopting a similar paramilitary structure and recruitment process, carrying out intelligence-gathering on rival clubs and police, and following written and unwritten rules — the most important of which was to uphold the “power, persona and reputation” of the club.
In his sentencing decision, the judge noted the trio had interfered with RM’s “freedom of choice” by dissuading him from starting his own club, and dissuading him and his wife from riding again.
“I am fully satisfied that RM was, in his words, ‘scared shitless.’”
Lawyers for the convicted men said Thursday a notice of appeal has been filed.