The Florida biker bust 35 years ago that sent recently-slain 59-year old Outlaws Motorcycle Club lieutenant Christopher (Louie the Lip) Keating to prison back in the 1980s led to the cracking of two gangland homicides, the car-bomb murder of a federal witness down in the Louisiana Bayou and a drug-related execution in Jacksonville. Louie the Lip’s co-defendant John (J.J.) Hall copped to playing a role in both killings.

Hall and Keating were two of 14 Outlaws from club chapters in Jacksonville and Tampa to be indicted in the wide-reaching racketeering case brought in 1982 – all but one of those arrested wound up being convicted at a high-profile jury trial a year later. Keating was stabbed to death earlier this week in a bar fight in Daytona Beach with a member of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club.

The October 1982 indictment charged the more than two dozen Outlaws with murder, attempted murder, narcotics trafficking, extortion, money laundering, prostitution, illegal weapon possession and witness intimidation. The murder count was tied to the 1978 Jacksonville slaying of Ricky Jones over a drug rip-off. Hall got found guilty of Jones’ murder, among other racketeering counts, at the three-ring circus of a 1983 trial, while Keating was convicted of extortion and drug dealing.

Louie the Lip Keating, then 25 and newly “patched-in” to the club’s Jacksonville chapter, kept his mouth shut and did five years behind bars, eventually getting released in the winter of 1987. J.J. Hall, 38 at that time and the president of the Outlaws’ Tampa chapter, turned his back on his biker brethren and entered the Witness Protection Program. He provided authorities additional details regarding the Jones hit – telling the feds that him and fellow Outlaws member Kenny Hart ambushed Jones with gunfire on the side of a dusty Jacksonville road – and shed fresh light on the February 1981 car-bombing and contract killing of Robert Collins, who was in the process of testifying against several co-conspirators in a wholesale narcotics peddling case when he was blown to bits as he pulled out of his driveway in suburban New Orleans.

Hall had his lawyer reach out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Florida to cut a cooperation deal as jurors were in the final hours of deliberations at trial. He convinced his best friend and surrogate son and brother in the Outlaws, Carlton (Quick Carl) Holley, a co-defendant in the case already doing a half-dozen year term in the joint for running a prostitution ring, to join him in the “program.” By May of that year, they were being fully debriefed and breathing new life into the Collins murder probe, which had previously been dormant for going on 15 months. Law enforcement in Louisiana was made aware of the developments in the Collins case that September.

According to court filings and federal records, below is a breakdown of how authorities believe the Robert Collins murder conspiracy transpired:

Collins was indicted alongside Bill Burns, Kenny Lynn, Salvatore Salido, Vincent Marcello and Gary Young on drug-trafficking charges in 1980. Burns, Lynn and Salido lived in Miami, Florida, Collins, Marcello and Young hailed from the New Orleans area. Marcello is the nephew of historic Big Easy mob boss Carlos Marcello, one of the most powerful mafia dons in America in the 20th Century. The elder Marcello died of natural causes in 1993.

Days before his murder, Collins had testified against Burns and was on the verge of taking the stand against the rest of his co-defendants in the weeks to come. As he lied mangled and bleeding to death on his driveway in Algiers, Louisiana, Collins told responding police that Bill Burns was responsible for the attack.

In his capacity as Tampa chapter president of the Outlaws, J.J. Hall headed a cocaine and pill distribution business through a front known as H.H.H Enterprises. Hall’s cocaine supplier was Anthony (Hialeah Tony) Scire, an Italian mafia associate operating in South Florida. Scire often gave Hall drugs on consignment and at the beginning of 1981, Hall owed Scire $30,000 in back payment. Through an intermediary, Scire, who also supplied the Florida-to-Big Easy coke pipeline Collins had participated in, offered to knock $12,000 off the biker boss’ debt if he killed Collins for him.

Hall decided to delegate the duty of rubbing out Collins to “Quick Carl” Holley and another Outlaws lieutenant of his named Richard (Cheezy) Crapparotta, promising them $3,000 each for the job. Holley and Crapparotta went to New Orleans and located Collins, however didn’t punch his ticket, angering Hall, who pulled Crapparotta off the assignment and replaced him with North Florida regional Outlaws boss Clarence (Big Smitty) Smith.

In mid-February, Hall dispatched Holley and Smith to Jacksonville to meet up with Jacksonville chapter treasurer Edward (Alabama Ed) Lackey en route back to the Bayou to clip Collins. Lackey – convicted in the ’82 racketeering case – and legendary Florida Outlaws leader James (Fuzzy) Miller stocked the pair with firearms and explosives and sent them on their way to New Orleans in a blue-colored Chevy Nova. Miller and Smith tested the bomb in Lackey’s backyard.

When Smith and Holley reached the Big Easy and located Collins’ residence in Algiers, Smith secured the bomb to the brakes of Collins’ truck as Holley acted as a lookout behind the wheel of the Chevy Nova on the curb across the street from the Collins home. The following morning, Collins got into the vehicle, engaged his brakes as he backed up to turn around and was literally torn apart from the blast – his legs and left hand blown off, his torso shredded with shrapnel. Less than a week later, Hall met Scire at a Howard Johnson’s diner in Ocala, Florida to discuss the murder and the deduction of the $12,000 from his debt.

With Hall and Holley as star witnesses at their trial, Tony Scire and Clarence Smith were convicted of Collins’ contract murder and sentenced to death in Louisiana. The guilty verdicts were tossed off the books in 1992 by the Louisiana State Supreme Court and both were acquitted at a 1995 retrial.

Smith, 73, was indicted on federal racketeering charges in 1996 and subsequently convicted and returned to prison. Hall and Holley received 30-year sentences and disappeared into the witness protection program. If J.J. Hall is still alive, he’d be 73 today.

Leave a Reply