The Highwaymen Motorcycle Club in Michigan practically made hunting informants a full-time job in the second half of the 2000s. While under federal indictment for a variety of racketeering offenses, leading members of the club’s Detroit wing got their hands on a top-secret list of government informants readying to testify against them at their upcoming trial. Several Highwaymen administrators were convicted of racketeering and drug charges in 2010 and smacked with heavy prison terms. There were almost 100 Highwaymen and Highwaymen associates indicted in the three years prior.

News broke earlier this week that the recent unmasking of co-defendant and former club vice president Aref (Scarface Steve) Nagi’s as an informant himself may provide fresh appeal grounds for imprisoned Highwaymen higher-ups (Nagi’s attorney was voted the defense team’s spokesperson at trial). Ironically, Nagi was at the forefront of efforts by the club to identify, locate and harm turncoat informants during the late 2000s.

According to court filings, the Detroit Highwaymen had murder contracts on the heads of former club brothers Philip (Jocko) McDonald and Doug (Doc) Burnett as well as a local man named Gerald Deese well before they even received the leaked list of future witnesses. Once the list leaked in 2009, former club national president Gerald (Bird Dog) Peters was visited at his home and threatened.

The Highwaymen is the biggest biker gang in Michigan and the state’s only traditional home-grown club, founded in Southwest Detroit the early 1950s. The club keeps chapters in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Alabama, Indiana, New York and New Jersey.

Jocko McDonald served as the Highwaymen’s Downriver Detroit chapter president in the 2000s. Burnett helped jumpstart the entire investigation when he approached the FBI in 2004 just four months into being a full-patch club member and voluntarily offered his cooperation. In late 2005, two years prior to the indictment dropping, then-Downtown Detroit chapter president Ron (The Mad Hatter) Hatmaker issued the contracts on Burnett, McDonald and Deese, per court records. Confronting club member Christopher (Lil’ Dog) Miller, who he suspected of snitching, Hatmaker warned him he’d “end up in a trash bin” if he cooperating with authorities – Miller cooperated anyway.

Hatmaker and then-Highwaymen national president Joseph (Little Joe) Whiting offered a cash bonus and vacation time as a bounty in the attempt to find and kill Burnett. The FBI found a photo of Burnett made into a gun-range target and the word “RAT” scrawled across it in a raid of the Highwaymen’s clubhouse in Southwest Detroit.

Whiting was caught on a federal wiretap discussing finding Burnett so he could be murdered and sanctioning Latin Counts street gang chief Anthony (Scarface Tony) Viramontez to kill Burnett if Viramontez and his Latin Counts crew found him first. Burnett aided the DEA in building a case against Viramontez and his gang too.

Deese was beaten unconscious by Highwaymen Westside Detroit chapter president Robert (Bad News Bobby) Burton after robbing chapter members of personal property. Burton, a well-known club drug boss, jumped ship following his arrest and became one of the government’s star witnesses at the two-month long 2010 trial.

As the trial approached and the list of over a half-dozen Highwaymen who had cut deals to testify somehow slipped into the biker gang’s unholy grasp, one of Little Joe Whiting’s predecessors as national president, Bird Dog Peters, inched into the club’s crosshairs. His estranged wife tipped Highwaymen brass to Peters intentions on testifying and subsequently his name appeared at the very top of the leaked list of names.

In the fall of 2009, Peters was cornered on his front porch by a trio of brooding Highwaymen, Michael (Cocoa) Cicchetti, Erick (Poke-A-Dot) Manners and Robert (Busy Bob) Whitehouse, all three of them co-defendants of his. They told him in no uncertain terms to “hide his family” if he intended on taking the witness stand. Within days, Cicchetti, Manners and Whitehouse had their bonds revoked.

At the time, Cocoa Cicchetti was the Downtown Detroit chapter president. Poke-A-Dot Manners acted as Scarface Steve Nagi’s bodyguard, driver and right-hand man out of the club’s Westside Detroit chapter. Peters wasn’t deterred by the intimidation tactics and spent almost two whole days in the witness box unfurling club secrets for the jury, prior to disappearing into the witness protection program.

Cicchetti got out of prison in 2015. Whitehouse was sprung in 2012. Nagi, Manners and Whiting remain guests of the federal correctional system. Manners has three years left on his sentence, Nagi will be eligible for release in seven years from this September. Whiting won’t be sprung from the pen until 2040 when he will be 87

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