Horse & Druggies Bearing Witness To The Plague Of Drugs Cops Say Two Amish Men Bought Cocaine From Pagans To Sell & Use At `Hoedowns'

Posted: June 24, 1998

In one of the strangest alliances ever encountered by law enforcement in this region, members of the Pagans Motorcycle Club allegedly conspired with some young Amish men to sell ``multiple kilograms'' of cocaine to Amish youth groups.

Federal and state authorities spoke in wonderment at the thought of sons of the ``plain people,'' with their broad-brimmed hats and horse-and-buggy way of life, becoming partners with the reputedly violent bikers, whose very name sneers at the core concept of the Amish: the belief in and love of God.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION, PUBLISHED JUNE 26, 1998, FOLLOWS: A photo used to illustrate a story about lifestyle differences between the Amish and the Pagans motocycle club in Wednesday's Daily News was a file photo and more than 20 years old. The former Pagan in the picture was photographed in 1977 as he walked in a March of Dimes charity parade/ He retired from the Pagans in 1989 and is not connected wto the club or the recently indicted club members.

``Bikes and buggies,'' said State Police Maj. Robert G. Werts. ``It's a rather strange combination. Our drug investigations are taking us to places where years ago we never thought we would have a problem. But we do.''

Robert S. Conforti, special agent in charge of the Philadelphia FBI office, said, ``It's something in my 26 years with the FBI I've never encountered before. It's difficult to understand how two different worlds could collide.''

Werts, Conforti, U.S. Attorney Michael Stiles and Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Dominguez all said the alleged traffic between the Pagans, from Chester County, and the Amish, from Lancaster County, was a clear signal that drugs could invade any community.

Dominguez said that, to his knowledge, no Amish have been prosecuted for drug crimes before in eastern Pennsylvania.

``It is a plague on all our houses,'' said Stiles, as he announced the indictment of 10 people, including two Amish men, for participating in a $1 million drug ring that potentially could imprison them all for life.

``It is not limited to the streets of North Philadelphia. Drugs can seep into any community, including the Amish community.''

According to the indictment, $1 million was the amount realized by the Pagans over a five-year period for the sale of cocaine and methamphetamine. The alleged Amish involvement was just a part of that operation, the indictment says, and it was limited to cocaine distribution.

A law enforcement source said the cocaine the Amish allegedly dealt in wholesales for $23,000 to $28,000 a kilo, which is 2.2 pounds. The street value could vary widely, perhaps reaching $100,000, depending on how deeply it is cut, the source said.

The indictment did not discuss where the funds for the purchase of the cocaine came from or whether it was ``fronted'' to salesmen who would pay for it once they had sold it.

Two Amish men, Abner Stoltzfus and Abner King Stoltzfus, no relation to each other, received an unspecified number of kilograms of cocaine from the Pagans between July 1993 and January 1997, the indictment says. They distributed this cocaine, the indictment says, at hoedowns, or social gatherings, sponsored by three Amish youth groups, the Crickets, Antiques and Pilgrims. Hoedowns are regular weekend get-togethers, often in barns, of young people in their teens and early 20s. They are the heart of social activity for the young Amish.

Abner Stoltzfus, 24, was a member of the Antiques. Abner King Stoltzfus, 23, was a member of the Crickets, the government said.

A male juvenile identified only as ``CS'' was a member of the Pilgrims, according to the indictment, and presumably has information about drugs allegedly supplied to that group.

Both Stoltzfuses are from Gap, a small town at the eastern end of Lancaster County. Stoltzfus is a very common name in Amish country.

The indictment was returned after a multi-year investigation by the FBI, state police and anti-drug task forces in Chester and Lancaster counties, Stiles said.

Sources said the investigation was hampered because the Amish shun many modern conveniences. Thus, there were no telephones to tap, no credit card trails of expenditures to follow.

Lancaster attorney John Pyfer, who represents Abner Stoltzfus, said his client will plead not guilty.

Abner Stoltzfus works as a roofer and has never been arrested before, said Pyfer. His client met members of the Pagans while he was working on a construction job, Pyfer said.

Pyfer said that Amish young people, particularly boys, go through ``a rite of passage'' known as ``sowing oats.'' This rite generally occurs between the ages of 16 and 24, he said, and it ends when the young people choose to be baptized and enter the church.

Other sources said that, during this period, it was not unusual for young men to rebel against their parents' use of a horse-and-buggy for transportation. They will buy cars if they have the money and they will forsake the dark, lapel-less clothes favored by their fathers. And they will drink booze.

Now, according to the indictment, they will also buy and sell drugs.

``Many people think the Amish are sheltered from the temptations others face in the outside world, but they're not,'' Pyfer said. ``They think Lancaster County, the Amish, it's all farms. Well, they're running out of land for farms and the young men are working as roofers and carpenters and they're out in the real world.''

Still, Pyfer added, crime in Amish country is ``very, very, very rare.''

But the indictment placed the two Amish men in a partnership with bikers whose leader, the government said, ``used violence and threats of violence to collect drug debts and enforce discipline among his subordinate drug dealers.''

Emory Edward Reed was president of the Chester County Pagans, one of 16 chapters in the state, the government said. In addition to dealing drugs, the indictment says, Reed broke the leg of co-defendant James Boyd with an ax handle because Boyd refused to make a drug pickup, and knocked out the front teeth of co-defendant Russell Samuels because he had not paid for some methamphetamine.

Reed, Pagans sergeant-at-arms Dwayne Blank and Pagans member Douglas Hersch were arrested yesterday and are being held without bail pending a hearing tomorrow.

The two Stoltzfuses, Boyd and Samuels, have agreed to turn themselves in. So have the other defendants, Lawrence ``Twisted'' Mellot, Robert ``Fat Head'' Reeder and Natalie King, in whose house the Pagans allegedly stored drugs.

In addition to prison terms of up to life if convicted, the defendants also face the possibility of forfeiting any property valued at up to $1 million that they might have obtained from the proceeds of their alleged drug dealing. And they can be fined up to $4 million each.

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