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Informer testifies on bikers' bombings, battles

By GRAHAM BRINK, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published August 22, 2003

TAMPA - The Outlaws motorcycle club had many slogans warning about the consequences of cooperating with authorities.

Chief among them: "Snitches are a dying breed" and "God forgives; Outlaws don't."

The sayings were not jokes. They were promises, former Outlaw motorcycle club member Carl "Jay" Warneke told jurors Thursday.

"If I had access to a snitch, I would have shut them up myself permanently," he said.

The irony of his current role as government witness was not lost on Warneke. He was in federal court testifying against Outlaw leader James "Frank" Wheeler, hoping his cooperation might shave some time off his double life sentence.

Wheeler, the alleged former national and international head of the Outlaws, faces racketeering and other charges that could land him in prison for the rest of his life. With several chapters in Florida, the Outlaws is one of the country's largest motorcycle clubs.

Wheeler sat stoically as he listened to Warneke detail a variety of Outlaw activities.

Warneke said he joined in 1988, drawn by the excitement and romance of riding with the legendary club. An Outlaw named Slow Joe sponsored Warneke, who rose to become president of the Chicago chapter, referred to as "Mother" since the Outlaws originated in the Chicago area in 1935.

In his low monotone, Warneke spent much of the day talking about 1994, which he described as a "very busy year" of bombings, killings and battles with rival gangs, especially the Hell's Angels and the Hell's Henchmen.

One lethal battle took place when about 40 Outlaws had a showdown with 25 Hell's Angels at a public race track in Lancaster, N.Y. Earlier that year, someone had thrown a grenade into the home of Buffalo Wally, a mid-level Outlaw leader. Outlaws from around the area congregated at the race track as a show of force, Warneke said, and to avenge the bombing.

"Good morning, brother," Hell's Angel leader Mike Quale said to Buffalo Wally, as the two groups closed ground in the pit road.

"You're no brother of mine," Buffalo Wally replied.

With that, the fight was on. At first, fists flew. Then a shot rang out. Buffalo Wally fell hard. Warneke described seeing the "glint of knife blades" and how the shooting reached such a "crescendo" that no single shot could be heard over all the others.

As the combatants spread out, Warneke said, he moved toward some cars with Fat Joey and another Outlaw, laying down cover fire with his Colt as they leapfrogged the parked cars.

When Warneke looked back, he said, he saw two Outlaws, Kickback and Madman, kicking and stabbing Quale. One of them also ripped off Quale's Hell's Angels patch as a trophy.

Buffalo Wally lay dead. As did Quale.

Later that year, the Outlaws parked a car rigged with a massive bomb outside the Chicago clubhouse of the Hell's Henchmen, Warneke said. The bomb blew two steel doors through to the back of the building. The car was unrecognizable.

"Everyone thought that was the cat's a--," Warneke said.

A few weeks later, Warneke said, some Outlaws torched what remained of the crumbled building for good measure. When a "For Sale" sign went up on the burned-out clubhouse, a couple dozen Outlaws showed up and gave the building the middle finger, which was captured in a series of photographs entered into evidence at Wheeler's trial.

In 1997, Warneke was arrested and charged with participating in Quale's death and the murder of another rival gang member, among other things.

He spent three years as a "lounge lizard" - an imprisoned Outlaw - just like many others with nicknames like Short Rat or Fuzz from Detroit.

Warneke was convicted in 2000. Soon after, he decided to "do the worst thing you could possibly do" as an Outlaw: cooperate with authorities.

Prosecutors have agreed to file a court motion acknowledging his cooperation. A judge ultimately will decide whether to reduce his sentence. "God forgives; Outlaws don't," Warneke said. "Yeah, it . . . implied that you would have the opportunity to ask God personally."

The trial continues Monday with more of Warneke's cross-examination.

- Graham Brink can be reached at 226-3365 or brink@sptimes.com


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