CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The former president of the Avengers Motorcycle Club was sentenced Friday in federal court to more than two years in prison for conspiring to kidnap a biker who had run afoul of a leader of the Pagans Motorcycle Club.
Thomas J. "Grumpy" Morris, 68, of Dunbar, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping in aid of racketeering in February 2010. Although the Avengers were not a support club of the Pagans, Morris knew Pagans national vice president Floyd B. "Diamond Jesse" Moore personally.
In June 2007, an assailant identified only as "Badger" broke into Moore's home and beat Moore and his girlfriend with a baseball bat, according to court records.
"Badger" fled the area after the assault, and Moore made it known to Pagans and members of affiliated clubs that he wanted "Badger" found.
After consulting with Moore, Morris sent e-mails to members of the Avengers, instructing them to be on the lookout for "Badger" and to hold him if they found him, court filings state.
In December 2009, just two months after being named in a 44-count indictment against 55 members and associates of the Pagans, Morris pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit murder, admitting that he reached out to Moore to have a woman killed for personal reasons.
Although Moore put Morris in touch with a member of the Pagans who is a convicted murderer, and Morris gave him photographs of the intended victim and directions to her house, the woman was not killed. Unbeknownst to Morris and Moore, the other Pagan, James "Pagan Ronnie" Howerton, was an undercover informant working with the FBI.
U.S. District Judge Thomas E. Johnston voided that plea agreement, finding that it did not constitute a violation of federal law.
On Friday, Johnston said he could not ignore the potential for violence -- even death -- that Morris' actions created.
"If this conspiracy had succeeded, it appears to me very likely that 'Badger' would have been killed," he said. "['Badger's' assault] was a serious affront not only to Floyd Moore but to the Pagans."