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Biker club hearing delayed to let informant consult lawyer

A federal court hearing that will feature testimony from a key FBI informant against the Chosen Few motorcycle club has been put off until Wednesday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy said he delayed the hearing, scheduled for Monday afternoon, so David Ignasiak, a former Chosen Few member, can consult with an attorney.

Defense attorneys plan to grill Ignasiak about his actions as a paid FBI informer in the months before May 2009, when 20 members and associates of the Depew-based biker club were arrested on a wide range of criminal charges.

The attorneys allege that, while wearing a hidden recording device for the FBI, Ignasiak took part in a vicious beating of Eugene Siminski, a member of the rival Kingsmen motorcycle club, in August 2008.

The attorneys said they have copies of government tape recordings that show Ignasiak actively took part and urged others to attack Siminski, who, authorities said, was beaten with an ax handle after several men pulled him off his motorcycle on a Buffalo street.

"We believe that, while acting as an agent of the government, Ignasiak took part in this beating and took other steps to advance a feud between the Chosen Few and the Kingsmen," defense attorney Paul J. Cambria told The Buffalo News on Monday.

Cambria represents Alex Koschtschuk, 60, of Alden, the jailed Chosen Few president who is considered the lead defendant in the criminal case.

According to court papers filed by the U.S. Attorney's Office, FBI agents never told Ignasiak to take part in the beating or any other illegal actions with the Chosen Few "without the prior approval of the FBI."

"We plan to explore with [Ignasiak] exactly what arrangements he had with the FBI while he was working for them on the night of this incident," Cambria said.

Led by Cambria, Angelo Musitano and Joseph M. LaTona, the defense attorneys are trying to have the entire case against the Chosen Few thrown out because of what they call "outrageous government conduct."

Prosecutor Anthony M. Bruce said federal agents and prosecutors deny any impropriety in their handling of the biker case.

Last month, McCarthy agreed to schedule evidentiary hearings on the government conduct issue. While defense attorneys often criticize the actions of prosecutors, such hearings rarely are held in Buffalo's federal courts.

Members and associates of the Chosen Few face racketeering charges. Allegations include arsons, assaults, a shooting and death threats against other biker gangs, notably the Kingsmen and the Lonely Ones.

The defense lawyers claim that that Ignasiak intentionally stirred up a gang war between the Chosen Few and the Kingsmen so he could then improve his standing as an informant by reporting the war to the FBI and prosecutors.

They claim that, in June 2008, Ignasiak used a knife to vandalize tents rented by the Chosen Few at a "Bikes & Blues" music event in Como Lake County Park in Lancaster. They also allege that Ignasiak was involved in a shooting that badly damaged the Chosen Few clubhouse in August 2008.

In court papers, Bruce accused defense attorneys of making "entirely unsubstantiated" allegations that have no credibility.

e-mail: dherbeck@buffnews.com

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