Hells Angels Return to Mass. Town
Mar. 08, 1999
LYNN, Mass. (AP) _ In this tough town, nicknamed the City of Sin, it's the Angels that strike fear in the hearts of folks.
Less than two years after an especially vile group of Hells Angels was driven from their clubhouse, the outlaw motorcycle gang has opened a hangout next to a peaceful, middle-class neighborhood.
``We're not happy about them being there,'' said Gerard Dwan, president of the Goldfish Pond Neighborhood Association. ``The neighbors were pretty upset.''
As one homeowner, speaking on condition of anonymity, put it: ``As soon as the Hells Angels signs went up, this property right here dropped 20 grand.''
Others don't see what all the fuss is about.
``None of us have any problems,'' said Carol Barker, who lives in the Goldfish Pond neighborhood near the Angels' new building. ``They haven't said anything, they haven't done anything.''
City Councilor David Ellis saids the Hells Angels never left Lynn, a city of about 80,000 just north of Boston that is plagued by drugs, gang violence and arson. Some of them have grown older and more interested in running legitimate businesses than raising hell on their Harleys, he said.
``They support Little League,'' Ellis said. ``They walk both sides of the fence.''
Goldfish Pond neighbors remember the days when the Angels bought up several buildings in the residential Shaw Court neighborhood nearby. Their three-story clubhouse, guarded by pit bulls and video cameras mounted on poles, had a sign that read: ``Is there life after death? Trespass here and find out.''
Two Hells Angels were accused of raping a woman at the compound during the 1997 funeral of a former chapter leader, a brawling ex-con named Alan ``Big Al'' Hogan.
Last year, two members admitted they were involved in killing a member of a rival motorcycle gang by ramming his motorcycle with a Cadillac.
The Angels were finally driven from Shaw Court after federal agents used an armored personnel carrier in a raid on their compound that led to 16 drug-dealing arrests. As part of a series of plea bargains, the clubhouse was demolished last year.
But in December, the club paid $135,000 cash for an old industrial building near railroad tracks not too far from Goldfish Pond, where homeowners work hard to keep property values up in this decaying manufacturing city.
The Angels' lawyer, Bruce Sachar, said members had no comment. He said they intend to obey the law in their new home, down to getting zoning board and building department approvals.
They plan to keep operating a machine shop and to manufacture Hells Angels T-shirts for sale at their store, Red and White Fashions, on the city's waterfront boulevard, Sachar said.
``They were good neighbors when they were on Shaw Court,'' Sachar said. ``They did a lot of things for the neighbors that never made the newspapers _ plowing, cleaning, doing favors.''
Nevertheless, Dwan has done everything he could to keep them out. He has gone to the building department and City Hall to demand they qualify for every permit they need. But, he said, ``if we can't get them out, we'll have to play with them.''
``We want to get them planting flowers,'' he said.