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Wednesday, September 7, 2016

SECOND KINGSMEN MOTORCYCLE CLUB MEMBER PLEADS GUILTY TO RICO CONSPIRACY

BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul Jr. announced today that Thomas Koszuta, 53, pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime before U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison, a maximum of life and a $250,000 fine.
 
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph M. Tripi, who is handling the case, stated that the defendant admitted to being a member of the Kingsmen Motorcycle Club (KMC), a criminal organization which engaged in such crimes as distribution of controlled substances, maintaining premises for use and distribution of controlled substances, possession, use and sale of firearms, sales of untaxed cigarettes, and promoting prostitution.  The KMC sought to preserve and protect their power, territory, and reputation through intimidation, violence, threats of violence, assaults, attempted murder and murders, and was involved in placing victims, potential victims, potential witnesses, and others in fear of the enterprise, its members, and associates, through violence and threats of violence. 
 
Koszuta further admitted that the Kingsmen operated by a strict chain of command serving under the direction of Kingsmen National President, David Pirk. On June 7, 2013, KMC forcibly shut down the Springville Chapter and strip members of their colors because they were non-compliant members. While others possessed firearms, the defendant struck a victim in the head with a blunt object and stole items from the Springville clubhouse. They then used bleach to clean areas where the victim bled and cut and removed portions of the rug which contained blood. Also, on August 3, 2013, the defendant and other Kingsmen members conducted a drive-by shooting targeting former Springville Kingsmen members. Two shots were fired from a shotgun, one of which struck a vehicle parked near one of the targeted victims.
 
Other acts of alleged violence by the Kingsmen include the murders of KMC members Paul Maue and Daniel "DJ" Szymanski who were murdered behind the North Tonawanda KMC Chapter clubhouse on September 6, 2014. 
 
Koszuta is one of 17 defendants arrested in this case and the second to be convicted. Charges are pending against the remaining 15 defendants. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
 
Today’s plea is the culmination of an investigation led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Safe Streets Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Adam S. Cohen. Assisting in the investigation: the FBI Knoxville, TN, and Jacksonville, FL Field Offices, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, the Buffalo Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the New York State Police, the Olean Police Department, the Lancaster Police Department, the Amherst Police Department, the Town of Tonawanda Police Department, the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Police, the Cattaraugus County Sheriff’s Department, and the Hamburg Police Department.    
 
Sentencing will be scheduled for at a later date.