One-time Pagan’s Motorcycle Club National President Dennis (Rooster) Katona will most likely be a free man again soon – his state drug conviction was tossed on appeal last week. The Pagan’s are one of the preeminent outlaw biker gangs on the east coast, maintaining a particular stronghold in the areas in and around Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, spanning across rural western Pennsylvania into Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia.

The hulking, long-haired and heavily-tattooed Katona, 50, was found guilty of intent to distribute a controlled substance at a bench trial in Pennsylvania state court in 2014 and is serving a 3-to-7 year prison sentence. He could be out on bond pending a prosecutor’s appeal within days. Practically the entirety of the state’s original case against him has been barred as proverbial fruit of the poisonous tree

Rooster Katona’s conviction resulted from a summer 2011 raid on his Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania home where a state-police SWAT team found three ounces of cocaine and three ounces of methamphetamine, totaling a street value of close to $25,000. The appellate court ruled this month that the search was executed on a faulty warrant based on intelligence gleaned from a wired-up snitch and fellow Pagan’s club member named Jasup Hoffman who had been recording conversation with Katona for weeks.The problem was the police weren’t properly updating court authorization for the intercepts that led to the probable cause for the issuing of the warrant.

The founder and owner of East Coast Cycles, a custom bike shop with outlets in Pennsylvania, Florida, Germany and Austria, Katona did four years in federal prison in the 2000s for leading an attack on a rival biker gang’s banquet in Plainview, New York in 2002. The ensuing melee pitting Katona and his Pennsylvania Pagan’s cohorts against a contingent of Long Island Hells Angels left one dead – Pagan Robert (Mailman) Rutherford – dozens injured, ten hospitalized and over 70 arrested and convicted. At the time of the 2002 brawl, Katona was the sergeant-at-arms for the Pagan’s Pittsburgh chapter and the club’s national treasurer.

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