HALIFAX – Three members of a motorcycle gang are facing Criminal Organization charges, the first time RCMP in Nova Scotia have laid such charges.
Forty-three-year-old Duane Howe, of Grand Desert, 38-year-old David Pearce and 45-year-old Patrick James, both of Dartmouth, are members of the Bacchus Motorcycle Club and are accused of uttering threats and intimidation, stemming from a series of raids last year.
The three men were first charged on Sept. 21, 2012, after investigators executed search warrants at four separate locations including the Bacchus clubhouse in on Hogan Road, in Nine Mile River, properties on Refrew Road and Elmwood Road, in Dartmouth, and a home on Dyke Road, in Grand Desert.
They were freed on conditions, but charged Thursday with the Criminal Organization charges.
RCMP said the charges are proof that, despite the club’s attempt to portray themselves in a positive light, they’re actually a criminal group.
“They are not a group of motorcycle enthusiasts who get together to do toy drive or charity work,” Insp. Joanne Crampton said. “They are an organized crime group and they are doing criminality in our community.”
Hells Angels-affiliated Bacchus operates throughout Atlantic Canada and is known to have a chapter in Nova Scotia since about January 2010, after about members of the former East Coast Riders patched over to the New Brunswick-based gang.
It was in late February of that year when Bacchus member James Russell “Rustie” Hall and his wife, Ellen Hall, were found murdered in their Barr Settlement, Hants County home.
On Dec. 31, 2012, 44-year-old Paul Roderick Fowler — a former president of the Hants County chapter — was arrested at his residence on Renfrew Road and charged with attempted murder, But, police said at the time his current status within the gang is unknown.
The president of the Saint John chapter, Matthew Thomas Foley, was convicted of manslaughter last year, following the shooting of 31-year-old Michael Thomas Schimpf, near the Pitt Street clubhouse. In the days following, Saint John Police and the Fire Marshall forced the gang out of the clubhouse.
“Our organized crime groups aren’t as large as other areas,” Crampton said. “We don’t have enormous groups like the Hells Angels out her, but certainly the Bacchus are a criminal group that do criminality in our communities.
The Criminal Organization charges are the first laid against Bacchus, but members of other biker gangs in Canada have been convicted of similar offences.
“In the past, the Hells Angels have been convicted of organized crime and these charges are akin to what that Hells Angels have been convicted of,” Crampton said.
Bacchus is considered by some to be the second-largest outlaw motorcycle gang in Canada and one of the country’s oldest, forming more than 40 years ago.
Howe, James and Pearce are due to appear in Dartmouth Provincial Court on Monday.