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Purported R.I. biker-gang leader Deric McGuire’s released after judge tosses wiretap evidence
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Purported R.I. biker-gang leader Deric McGuire’s released after judge tosses wiretap evidence

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PROVIDENCE — The Burrillville man depicted by authorities as the leader of a violent motorcycle gang and Woonsocket drug enterprise is out on home confinement after a judge this week threw out the wiretap investigators used on his phones.

Superior Court Judge Netti C. Vogel on Wednesday suppressed the wiretap of Deric McGuire’s phones from July 7, 2017, on after concluding that under state law only the Superior Court’s presiding justice or the next senior Superior Court judge can authorize such interceptions, according to John M. Cicilline, a lawyer involved in the case.

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“They lose the wire. It’s far from over, but it’s significant,” said Cicilline, whose father, John F. Cicilline, argued the motion to suppress.

McGuire, who had been held without bail, was released on home confinement the same day.

Kristy dosReis, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter F. Neronha’s office, declined comment, other than to say the state planned to appeal.

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State police Capt. John Alfred also declined comment.

For almost a year, state and federal agents wiretapped at least seven different telephones used by McGuire, capturing, they say, his recruitment to lead a new Rhode Island chapter of the Pagans outlaw motorcycle gang and documenting his illegal drug operation.

The investigation, dubbed Operation Patched Out, led to 29 raids in May 2018 and the seizure of drugs and weapons, including a rocket launcher. Fifty people were arrested and charged with crimes, authorities say, tied to two Woonsocket-based motorcycle gangs, the Pagans and the Kryptmen.

McGuire, 33, faces more than 220 narcotics and weapons charges.

Donna Uhlmann, who represents Catherine Glaude, joined in the suppression motion, along with lawyers representing with other defendants.

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“The Rhode Island wiretap law is so narrow. There’s no room for error,” Uhlmann said.

John F. Cicilline challenged the validity of the wiretap warrants, because state law specifies that only Superior Court Presiding Justice Alice B. Gibney or the most senior Superior Court judge, in this case Robert Krause, can sign a wiretap warrant in her absence. Instead, Superior Court Judge Melanie Thunberg had signed off on many of the warrants.

“It’s called the “Big Based Scallop” and only 50 of them were ever made,” says Bob Skeffington, one of the men who hauled it in.

“Any wiretap order she signed is out. It’s for all the cellphones involved,” Uhlmann said.

Gibney asked Thunberg to handle the warrants involved in the case when Gibney was out on leave, because it would have created a conflict for Krause to later preside over the cases, Cicilline said. Krause oversees the gun court, which handles cases involving guns, such as the bikers’, and is presiding over the cases.

Like McGuire, other defendants are also being released after remaining behind bars for more than a year, she said.

She credited Judge Vogel’s decision as being “so thorough” that, she said, it will be difficult for the state to find grounds upon which to appeal.

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“We’ll see what the Supreme Court will do,” said John M. Cicilline, who represents Yevgeniy Mazo, of North Providence.

The 1,274-page affidavit that supported dozens of searches of homes, cars and motorcycles told of agents tapping at least seven of McGuire’s phones and capturing conversations related to his transition from being a former Thug Rider into a “patched” member of the Pagans.

It chronicled, too, the state police investigation into biker activity that began in February 2017, when a confidential source told detectives that members of the Thug Riders were drug dealing and that tensions were growing among Rhode Island’s many motorcycle clubs.

That tension boiled over on April 8, 2017. State chapters of the Outlaws and the Thug Riders scheduled social events on that same day at their clubhouses — less than a mile apart from each other in Woonsocket. The annual Outlaws party also drew members of various other motorcycle clubs.

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Before the day was over, members of the Thug Riders were making slow, intimidating drive-bys on their bikes in front of the Outlaws’ clubhouse at 19 Fabien St. as well as the Hells Angels’ clubhouse on Messer Street, in Providence. Members of the Hells Angels gave chase, catching one of the Thug Riders, knocking him off his bike and throwing him through a house window on Valley Street, the affidavit says.

It was the threat of more violence, the state police said, that prompted them and federal agents to move when they did in May.

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