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Agents target biker gang's Harleys New charges filed in Chosen Few case

Federal agents and prosecutors took another whack at the Chosen Few motorcycle gang Tuesday.

And this time, the government wants to take away some of the bikers' beloved Harley-Davidson motorcycles and vests with the Chosen Few insignia on them.

Several new charges were filed against members and associates of the Chosen Few, a Depew-based biker gang that has been the target of a federal crackdown since May, when 19 alleged members and associates were arrested.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce filed the charges in federal court, adding one more alleged gang associate -- Dane Beutler, 39, of Tyler Street in Depew -- to the list of suspects.

Among the new allegations:

* Beutler is accused of joining two other defendants, Gerald Rogacki and Robert Treadway, in a baseball bat assault on a man outside Buffalo's All High Stadium in October 2006.

The victim tried to hide in his car, but the attackers used the bats to smash out all the windows and then strike the man repeatedly while he was still inside the vehicle. Bruce said the man was targeted because he wanted to quit the Chosen Few.

* The jailed Chosen Few president, Alex Koschtschuk of Alden, is accused of putting a gun to a man's head and stealing his motorcycle. According to court papers, the alleged robbery took place in 1996 or 1997, and the location was not given.

Koschtschuk also is accused of using the threat of violence to steal $9,300 from another man in either 2002 or 2003. Again, the location of the alleged crime was not specified.

* Koschtschuk and other club members are alleged to have torched a vacant house on Main Street in Depew in May 2005 so they could use the land the house was on to expand the parking lot of their clubhouse.

* In a forfeiture action, the U.S. attorney's office seeks to take possession of Koschtschuk's house, the gang's clubhouse, eight Harleys and members' "Chosen Few" vests and jackets. Several guns taken from Koschtschuk's home and the clubhouse are also sought.

The government's latest actions -- especially the forfeiture case -- drew criticism from Paul J. Cambria, an attorney for Koschtschuk, the Chosen Few president.

"It's the same old story of government overkill, government prosecutors piling on. We're just going to have to fight it out in court," Cambria said. "To go after these guys' vests with the insignia on them, that seems like an extreme First Amendment violation to me. These guys wear their insignia to express who they are."

Cambria and other defense attorneys for the Chosen Few, including John J. Molloy and Patrick J. Brown, claim that the federal case has more to do with tough talk in the biker gang clubhouse than with actual acts of violence.

Nineteen men were arrested on racketeering and conspiracy charges May 7 after a long investigation by the FBI-led Safe Streets Task Force. Federal agents accused the Chosen Few of taking part in several arsons and assaults aimed at rival bikers, especially members of local Kingsmen chapters.

Agents used hidden microphones in the Chosen Few clubhouse to make numerous tape recordings of meetings and discussions between club members.

FBI officials said they moved in to make arrests because the recordings led them to believe that an "all-out war" was about to erupt between the Chosen Few and the Kingsmen.

Supporters of the bikers say they are good family men and workers who have been unfairly targeted.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

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