The national president of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club was arrested Friday by federal authorities after law enforcement recovered a firearm during a traffic stop in New Jersey last weekend, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced.
Keith Richter, known as “Conan,” was charged with one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Richter, 62, attended a party in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, around noon on Feb. 20. According to a criminal complaint, law enforcement learned during the party that Richter had a gun.
The Bay Shore, New York, resident was a passenger in a GMC that left the party around 11 p.m.
The vehicle was stopped by police in East Windsor in Mercer County around 1:30 a.m. Feb. 21. Police searched the vehicle and found a loaded Ruger P345 .45-caliber handgun underneath the cupholder of the center console, authorities said.
Richter and the passenger were not detained at the time, but Richter was later arrested by an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, which identified him in the criminal complaint as the national president of the Pagans.
It is unclear why Richter was not arrested during the traffic stop.
But Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Frazer said during Ritcher’s first appearance in court Friday that the government has “incontrovertible evidence” that Richter possessed the firearm at the party.
“Mr. Richter personally possessed that gun, did not hide it from the numerous people that were there,” Frazer said.
Prosecutors moved to have Richter detained pending the outcome of the case due to his criminal history, they said, and because of his role as the leader of the motorcycle gang.
Richter was previously convicted in 1998 when he was the national president of the Pagan’s, Frazer said, of conspiracy to commit murder in aid of racketeering and two counts of attempted assault with a dangerous weapon in aid of racketeering. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison and was released in 2012.
The FBI identifies the Pagans as one of the four major outlaw motorcycle gangs in the U.S. That group includes the Hells Angels, the Outlaws and the Bandidos.
The turf clash between the Pagans and Hells Angels has been well-documented over the years — especially in northern New Jersey, where the Hells Angels have a clubhouse in Newark.
In 2018, Pagan Robert DeRonde, known as “Hellboy,” brutally beat an associate of the Hells Angels with a baseball bat at a gas station near the Newark clubhouse. DeRonde, 56, was sentenced to four years in prison in 2019 after he pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.