By Julie Manganis
---- — SALEM — Five men, including one from Gloucester, said to be members of the Hell’s Angels biker gang and their Red Devils “farm team” crowded into a Salem Superior Court dock yesterday, less than a week after an Essex County grand jury indicted them on kidnapping, mayhem and extortion charges.
And a sixth reputed member made a quick appearance Monday to answer to similar charges that he also took part in kidnapping, beating and then stealing the motorcycle of a former member.
Nikolas Avelis, 54, of 44 Grapevine Road, Gloucester; Sean Barr, 48, of Lynn, said to be a member of the Hell’s Angels Lynn chapter; and Brian Weymouth, 41, and Marc Eliason, 35, both of 20 Jacobs Ave., Danvers, were all arrested last Wednesday; and George Brown, 49, of 31-33 Salem St., Salem, all pleaded not guilty yesterday to the charges. Robert Defronzo, 45, of Saugus, pleaded not guilty on Monday.
Now they’re being held without bail, charged in a plot straight out of a B movie, right down to the witness who wore a wire to ensnare his former associates.
They’re due back in court today for a dangerousness hearing, where prosecutor A.J. Camelio is asking a Salem Superior Court judge to hold them without bail pending trial.
Camelio told Judge Robert Cornetta that the problems for the victim started in September, when he attended a party in Revere and a former member of the Red Devils showed up.
That man had been “put out” of the club, said Camelio, and under the rules of the Red Devils organization, members were under a standing order to beat up such former members.
But the victim, a Revere man, did not.
That got him into hot water with Barr, who as a Hell’s Angel, Camelio said, had some authority over Red Devils members. The victim was ordered to quit his job as a contractor, a job he’d obtained with the assistance of the organization, and was told that he was under suspension from the Red Devils for a year as a result of his nonfeasance.
The following month, Camelio said, the victim was summoned to a meeting with Brown, a Hell’s Angel, and Avelis, at a Saugus Dunkin’ Donuts, where he was confronted with a rumor that he had been in contact with a rival biker gang, the Outlaws.
They ordered him to a meeting at the Red Devils “clubhouse” in Byfield, located in a strip mall near Interstate 95.
Present for that meeting was Defranzo, along with Avelis, Barr, Brown, Eliason and Weymouth, the prosecutor said.
Camelio said Eliason grabbed the victim by the throat until he was unconscious and threw him to the floor.
Two men, Weymouth and Eliason, took the victim’s keys and drove to Revere, planning to take his motorcycle. Meanwhile, in Byfield, the victim came to and was put in a chair, Camelio told the judge.
He was asked “hand or knee?” said the prosecutor. The victim held out his hand, flinching a couple of times before Barr landed two blows with a heavy ball-peen hammer.
They then waited for Weymouth and Eliason to return.
The victim later sought treatment for his damaged hand, telling a doctor that an engine block had fallen on it.
During the next couple of months, the gang repeatedly threatened the victim, demanding the title to his motorcycle.
Last week, Eliason went to the victim’s home, threatening to burn down his house and rape his girlfriend in front of him unless he got the title. He said he would be back the following day.
The following day, as promised, Eliason returned.
But state police were also listening to the men’s conversation, during which Eliason confirmed much of what had happened.
Camelio said he intends to use those recordings, both audio and video, during today’s hearing.
Lawyers for several of the men urged Cornetta to schedule immediate hearings, something the judge agreed to do.
During the arrest of Avelis at his Gloucester home, police secured several firearms. Avelis has an active license to carry, which is being reviewed by Gloucester police in light of his arrest.
Weymouth’s lawyer, Robert Wheeler, said his client had recently undergone “major back surgery” and had not been receiving his pain medication while in custody at Middleton Jail.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, or firstname.lastname@example.org.