The son of a Chosen Few motorcycle club leader was ordered to be jailed Wednesday after a prosecutor said the young man has had two recent confrontations with government witnesses.
Chad Koschuk, 23, of Alden, whose father is the jailed president of the Chosen Few, will be detained until at least Sept. 25, U.S. Magistrate Judge Hugh B. Scott ruled.
Scott also ordered a psychiatric evaluation for Koschuk, who was arrested on a felony witness-tampering charge by the FBI on Monday.
Koschuk in recent weeks has angrily confronted two witnesses in the case against his father, Alex Koschtschuk, 58, of Alden, who is in jail awaiting trial on racketeering charges, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Anthony M. Bruce.
"One of these confrontations took place after FBI agents specifically warned [Koschuk] to stay away from government witnesses," Bruce said.
But according to defense lawyers, one of those witnesses -- identified in court papers as David Ignasiak, a judo expert and former Chosen Few member -- has made threats against Koschuk and other members of his family.
"My client has a harassment charge pending against Ignasiak," said Daniel J. Henry Jr., a court-appointed attorney for Koschuk. "Ignasiak has a black belt in judo, and he made all kinds of remarks to [Koschuk] and tried to pick a fight with him. . . . Ignasiak was the aggressor, not Chad Koschuk."
During a detention hearing in Scott's court, FBI Special Agent Thomas Palmer testified about Koschuk's problems with federal witnesses. Palmer said the first incident was Aug. 7 in a convenience store in Lancaster, where Ignasiak and Koschuk encountered each other by chance. The two men had words "back-and-forth," Palmer testified.
"Ignasiak told me Mr. Koschuk said, 'Your day is coming,' and Ignasiak took that as a threat on his life," Palmer testified.
Henry said that Koschuk's remark was not meant as a death threat and that Koschuk made the remark only after persistent taunting from Ignasiak.
Palmer testified that the second incident took place outside another convenience store in Alden, where Jason Macken, an alleged victim of extortion by the Chosen Few, was eating lunch with friends.
Koschuk showed up at the store by chance, saw Macken and began yelling threats and obscenities at him, Palmer testified.
Henry said his client maintains that he yelled at Macken only after Macken began insulting him.
The FBI agent also testified that an anonymous "character assassination letter" about Ignasiak has been sent to several witnesses in recent weeks. One copy of the letter had Koschuk's fingerprint on it, Palmer said.
"There is no proof that my client wrote that letter or sent it to anyone," Henry said.
The defense attorney said Koschuk is unemployed and mentally disabled because of injuries suffered in a serious accident when he was a teenager.
Scott said that enough concerns were raised to convince him that Koschuk, if released, could pose a danger to the community. He ordered a mental health evaluation for Koschuk and said he will meet with lawyers on the case again Sept. 25.
Friends and supporters of the Chosen Few have contended that Ignasiak has made threatening remarks to club members and their families since early May, when 20 Chosen Few associates were arrested by the FBI and other agencies.
Bruce declined to comment on those accusations, except to say Ignasiak is no longer in Western New York and will be out of the region for an indefinite time. He declined to say whether Ignasiak is under the protection of the FBI or any other law enforcement agency.
Meanwhile, a new charge -- a felony count of possession of stolen property from his employer, the state Thruway Authority -- was filed Wednesday against Koschtschuk.
As The Buffalo News reported May 15, State Police found $5,500 worth of Thruway Authority equipment in Koschtschuk's home. Koschtschuk pleaded not guilty, said his attorney, Herbert L. Greenman.