October 7, 2021 — Keith (Conan the Barbarian) pushed Michael (Tyrone the Terrible) Trone out of power in the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club kingdom four years ago this month to take control of the club in a bloodless coup, per ATF records related to Richter’s reign. The 62-year old Richter was busted with a gun last winter and will be spending at least the next 2-to-3 years as a guest of the U.S. government in a federal correctional facility.
Trone, 65, is from Newport, Pennsylvania (near Harrisburg) and rose to the club’s No. 1 spot in the early 2010s after being an enforcer for the club’s top brass in the 2000s. During Trone’s ascent, Richter was behind bars serving federal prison time for extorting and trying to kill a New York strip club owner. Richter headquarters out of the club’s Long Island chapter.
According to DEA informant documents, Richter forced Trone to step down as boss in the days surrounding Halloween 2017 and launched his “Blue Wave” mandate, an expansion campaign of the Pagan’s brand and criminal activity into Upstate New York, North Jersey, New England and parts of the Southwest and Pacific Northwest.
In an official ceremony in the weeks that followed, Richter was voted in as the Pagan’s new national president, per the documents. The club has opened more than a dozen new chapters across the country in the last three years.
Trone was Sergeant at Arms for portions of former Pagan’s National President David (Black Bart) Barbeito’s tenure. Barbeito lives in Maryland, where the club was founded.
In June 2003, Trone accompanied Barbeito to confront a faction of rebel Pagan’s in West Virginia and helped Barbeito strip the leaders of the St. Albans chapter of their colors and cuts. The altercation resulted in Trone to pleading no contest to kidnapping charges. He received a suspended sentence of five years in state court as punishment. Black Bart was indicted for racketeering in 2009 and dethroned by his subsequent prison stint.
Dennis (Rooster) Katona of Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, who had succeeded Trone as Sergeant at Arms, then became boss for two years until he was nailed in 2011 on drug and weapons charges.
For a period of time prior to Trone taking the reins of the club, James (Jersey Jim) Coles landed in the boss’ seat. However, Coles knew his time as National President was on an interim basis and Trone had the power in the Pagan’s by 2013.
Under Barbeito, Coles and Trone, the club kept a relatively low profile. When Richter assumed the mantle, that all changed.
“Conan is a rah-rah guy, he’s like a football coach or a general at war rallying his troops, he had his vision of taking the Pagans to a whole other level of prestige and reach and he went out and did it,” said one former Pagan’s member. “He knew that meant jumping square on the Feds radar. That goes with the territory.”
Before Richter pleaded guilty to being a felony in possession of a weapon and reported to prison back in the summer, — he still awaits sentencing –, he tapped Virginia Pagan’s leader Robert (Big Bob) Francis as his successor. Francis’ plan of attack either towards continuing the Blue Wave movement or keeping it dormant until Richter returns to the streets, remains unknown at this moment.
Richter’s aggressive approach as boss ruffled feathers in the Pagan’s rank and file and with a number of “OGs” in the club, including Rooster Katona. Upon Richter taking power, Katona, who long represented the club’s Pittsburgh chapter in multiple administrations, broke off and started his own club, called the Sutars Soldiers. Another group of ex-Pagan’s in the Philadelphia area left the club and founded, the Jackals.