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Jury Finds National Hells Angels Leader Guilty of Conspiracy

October 29, 1988 GMT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club’s national leader, convicted for a plot to kill members of a rival gang, said he feels his group scored a major victory over government prosecutors in the 12-week trial.

A U.S. District Court jury Friday convicted five of 10 gang members accused of plotting attacks in Louisville and elsewhere against members of the Outlaws.

Only Ralph ″Sonny″ Barger Jr., 50, president of the Oakland, Calif., Hells Angels chapter and the club’s longtime national leader, and Michael Vincent O’Farrell, 39, a former president of the Oakland chapter, were convicted on felony charges.

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″I think we won very handily in there. It was just too bad that Irish (O’Farrell) and I were convicted, but we will probably win an appeal,″ Barger said. ″I think it was a devastating blow to the government, and I couldn’t be happier with the verdict except if I had been found innocent myself.″

Barger and O’Farrell were convicted of conspiracy to transport and receive explosives in interstate commerce with intent to kill and damage buildings, said Duane Schwartz of the U.S. attorney’s office.

The felony conviction carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Barger and three others were convicted on another charge dealing with a stolen government manual, and five others were acquitted on all charges, Schwartz said.

Prosecutors said they were pleased with the verdict.

The 10 were among 20 Hells Angels from Kentucky and four other states indicted by a federal grand jury last year. The remainder are to be tried beginning Feb. 6.

The government contended the defendants planned the attacks in revenge for the slaying of John Cleve Webb, a Hells Angel from Alaska who was shot outside a Jefferson County bar in August 1986. A Louisville Outlaw later pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in Webb’s death.

Those convicted were allowed to remain free on bond pending sentencing, set for March 10, 1989.