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A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a leader of the Outlaws motorcycle gang to four years and three months in prison, but refused a probation officer's request to bar him from associating with the Outlaws after he is released.

U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara imposed the sentence against David Thornton, 42, of Depew, identified by police as president of the Buffalo chapter of the Outlaws.

Thornton pleaded guilty in January to a felony charge of intent to distribute more than two pounds of cocaine.

In addition to his prison sentence, the judge ordered that Thornton will be placed under supervised release for three years after he gets out of prison. The judge said Thornton must meet regularly with officers of the U.S. Probation Office, and must submit to searches of his person and property when asked.

But the judge declined a probation officer's request that he order Thornton not to associate with the Outlaws organization after his prison term. The judge made the ruling after Thornton told him that the Outlaws are like family to him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas S. Duszkiewicz said agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration learned during the investigation that the Outlaws are heavily involved in transporting cocaine and distributing it in Western New York.

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