SALEM, Mass. —
Five months after his right hand and wrist were shattered by a ball-peen hammer, a former bike gang member is still wearing a cast and bandages, visible as he raised that hand to swear an oath in court.
The alleged victim, 56, took the stand to testify against his former associates in the Red Devils and Hells Angels motorcycle clubs, describing how he was “put out bad” by the gang after failing to beat up a former member who showed up at a party last September.
He did more than testify, however; he wore a recording device that captured audio and video of one of those former associates, Marc Eliason, 35, of Danvers.
Eliason’s attorney didn’t even try to convince Judge John Lu to release him on bail, joining a second suspect, Sean Barr, 48, of Lynn, in waiving his right to a hearing on the request by prosecutors to hold them and four others without bail.
After a hearing where Lu was shown the surveillance video, he ordered three of the other suspects: George Brown, 49, of Salem, Mass., Brian Weymouth, 41, of Danvers, and Robert Defronzo, 45, of Saugus, held without bail. One defendant, Nikolas Avelis, 54, of Gloucester, said to be the president of the Red Devils, will be allowed to be released on the condition that he post $5,000 bail and remain confined to his home, monitored by an electronic ankle bracelet.
All six have pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping, mayhem and extortion, the charges stemming from a series of incidents that led to one brutal confrontation inside the Red Devils “clubhouse” in a Byfield strip mall last October.
Under questioning by prosecutor A.J. Camelio, the former Red Devil, a burly man sporting tattoos, a goatee beard and black-rimmed, yellow tinted eyeglasses, described how a former Hells Angels member showed up at a Sweet 16 party for his girlfriend’s daughter.
That man “was put out bad,” said the alleged victim. “He messed up with the club.”
Under the club’s rules, the alleged victim and other Red Devils were required to give the man a beating.
Did they? asked Camelio.
“No, we didn’t,” said the alleged victim.
Soon afterward, the alleged victim’s life began to fall apart. Barr, a Hells Angel who worked with the victim, ordered him to quit his job. Then, he was ordered to attend a meeting, where he was told he too was being “put out bad.” “I took my vest off, my belt buckle, and turned it over to him.”
Later he was called to another private meeting where he was told to turn over his motorcycle to the club and then had his hand beaten with a ball-peen hammer, which caused serious injuries.
He then described further threats of terror and intimidation by gang members. Eliason allegedly told the man, “He was going to break my legs, kill me, but before that, he was going to rape my girlfriend in front of me and go after my son,” the alleged victim testified.
That’s when the FBI stepped in. Jeff Wood, an FBI agent who oversees gang cases on the North Shore, outfitted the man with a recording device hidden on him.
In that taped meeting, Eliason discussed his complicity.
All six are due back in court April 2 for a pre-trial hearing in the case.
Details for this story were provided by Julie Manganis, a reporter for The Salem (Mass.) News.