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1%er News:

Gang member found dead in jail

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BY: Andrew Clevenger, Gary A. Harki

West Virginia - CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A member of the Pagans Motorcycle Club accused of illegally bringing explosives into West Virginia in 2006 died in custody on Saturday.

Charles Harmon "Tombstone Charlie" Nichols, 57, was found unresponsive in his cell at South Central Regional Jail about 2:30 a.m. Saturday, said John L. King, operations manager for the state Regional Jail Authority.

He was pronounced dead about 3 a.m., King said.

Nichols, who was about 6-foot-2 and weighed 375 pounds, appears to have died of natural causes, and no foul play is suspected, King said. State Police are investigating, which is routine, he said.

"He was 57 years old and had a variety of health issues," King said. An autopsy is pending, he said.

"At this point, it doesn't look like there was any indication of foul play," said Brad Sellers, acting chief deputy U.S. Marshal for West Virginia's Southern District. The U.S. Marshals Service is conducting its own investigation, he said.

Nichols was one of 55 defendants named in a 44-count federal indictment earlier this month. Following his arrest on Oct. 6, he appeared in federal court in Roanoke before he was brought to West Virginia to face the charges against him.

Along with Richard Howard Leslie "Reverse" Smith, 58, of Roanoke, Va., and James Vernon "Timex" Hobeck, 43, of Pilot, Va., Nichols allegedly brought explosives into the Princeton area on June 1, 2006, according to the indictment. The men knew that the explosives would be used to commit a crime of violence, the indictment alleges.

Nichols was one of 73 Pagans charged following a 2002 melee with members of the Hells Angels at a Long Island catering hall. One Pagan was killed during the brawl, in which the Pagans targeted the Hellraisers Ball, a motorcycle and tattoo expo hosted by the rival gang.

The attack was an effort to take back Long Island as Pagans territory, The New York Times reported at the time. The Pagans had controlled the area, but the Hells Angels took over after the local Pagans clubs' numbers were depleted by numerous federal convictions in New York in 1998.

Nichols was released from federal prison in February 2004, according to the federal Bureau of Prisons' Web site.

In addition to Nichols, Dominick Carl "Tack" Dipietro, 46, and Timothy "Casual" Flood, 47, both of Philadelphia, appear to be the only Pagans named in both the 2002 and current indictments.


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Posted on 10/19/2009 7:41 PM | 1%er News

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