Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Outcast Member Gets Year in Prison; Judge Questions Relevance of Club Affiliation to Federal Drug Charges

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Outcast Member Gets Year in Prison; Judge Questions Relevance of Club Affiliation to Federal Drug Charges

Article excerpt

Byline: Jim Schoettler

The nationally notorious Outlaws Motorcycle Club has roots in Jacksonville that include its backing of a smaller club whose vice president was sentenced in a federal drug case Tuesday, the prosecutor said.

Johnnie Lee Gilford's defense attorney portrayed Gilford's chapter of the Outcast Motorcycle Club as a fraternity of hard-working, non-violent men who used a clubhouse in Northwest Jacksonville to party.

But federal prosecutor Jay Taylor described the Outcast as a violent criminal gang blessed by the even more dangerous Outlaws, whose leaders allowed the Outcast to wear a special patch that signifies scofflaw pride.

The FBI targeted Gilford, 51, as part of a federal wiretap of Outcast members suspected of dealing in stolen motorcycles. Gilford was caught discussing drug sales and got busted after repeatedly selling an informant cocaine in 2011 and last year.

His attorney, Wade Rolle, and Taylor agreed Gilford sold the cocaine to feed an addiction by skimming some. They also agreed the men who sold the drugs to Gilford were not Outcast members.

Senior federal Judge Henry Lee Adams Jr. seemed bewildered by the suggested link between the two groups after pointing out the Outlaws are white and the Outcast are black. He also questioned the relevance either group had to Gilford's drug sales.

Adams sentenced Gilford to a year in prison on a charge of conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Taylor argued for a stiffer sentence, insisting that the wiretap includes evidence of violent crimes and other trouble committed by the Outcast. But the details remain sealed in an affidavit that is part of an ongoing investigation. Taylor sought to protect that probe rather than have Adams unseal the affidavit and consider it before sentencing.

Adams cited Gilford's decorated 20-year Navy career, his regular carpentry work and the need for him to care for his sick wife as mitigating factors in the sentencing decision. …

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