An FBI informant refused to answer Friday when asked if he committed an act of vandalism that helped touch off a war between the Chosen Few motorcycle club and a rival biker gang.
During a pretrial hearing, a defense lawyer asked David Ignasiak if he was the person who used a knife to hack up some tents used by the Chosen Few during a Lancaster "Bikes & Blues" music festival in 2008.
"I plead the Fifth," said Ignasiak, who will be a key prosecution witness in an upcoming racketeering trial against 20 Chosen Few members. By invoking the Fifth Amendment, he was refusing to answer a question that might implicate him in criminal activity.
The answer delighted Angelo Musitano, one of the defense attorneys who claim that Ignasiak instigated a gang war between the Chosen Few and the Kingsmen.
"He took the Fifth Amendment because he knows he is the guy who sliced up the tents," Musitano told The Buffalo News after the hearing. Musitano said Ignasiak was a Chosen Few member and also a paid informant for the Buffalo FBI office at the time of the vandalism incident.
Ignasiak and FBI Special Agent Kenneth Jensen testified before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy, who is trying to determine whether federal prosecutors engaged in "outrageous government conduct" to build their case. McCarthy said the hearing will continue at a later date.
Officials of the U.S. Attorney's Office and the FBI said they stand by a federal indictment that accuses Chosen Few members of arsons, beatings, death threats and other attacks aimed at rival bikers.
"We're confident of the agents and all the work they did during the course of this four-year investigation," said James A. Jancewicz, the FBI agent who supervised the Chosen Few probe. "The agents on this case are people of integrity, and they followed Justice Department guidelines throughout the course of the case." During Friday's hearing, Ignasiak said he was repeatedly warned by several FBI agents that he was not allowed to commit crimes with the Chosen Few while working as a government informant.
But an undercover tape made by Ignasiak seemed to show that he was an active participant in a beating of a member of the Kingsmen on Aug. 20, 2008. The tape was played in court Friday.
On the tape, Ignasiak and several others can be heard talking inside a moving car as it pursues a Kingsman member riding a motorcycle. The men are heard discussing when they will jump out of the car and attack the biker. " Ready, let's go!" one person is heard to say. That individual was Ignasiak, the FBI's Jensen confirmed under questioning.
But the agent said the FBI never gave permission to take part in violence against anyone.
The attack on the biker, identified in court papers as Eugene Siminski, is one of the racketeering allegations.