Lawyers question former Hells Angels club president about stealing from Rockford chapter

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ROCKFORD — The former head of a Rockford motorcycle club testified today that he had heard rumors after he was attacked that he was stealing from the Hells Angels.

But that’s not the reason Josh Johnson, 47, said fellow members gave him for wanting him out of the Rockford chapter before they attacked him. Johnson testified that he and a friend were accused during their weekly club meeting on June 27, 2013, of working with the police.

“They didn’t accuse you of stealing?” asked John Palmer, one of the defense attorneys for five members of the Rockford and Chicago branches of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club who are on trial this week for allegedly beating, stabbing and shocking the former president with a stun gun.

“No they did not,” said Johnson, who was questioned by defense lawyers for hours today.

Christopher Lawson and Richard L. Todd, both of Rockford; John R. Savalick of Pecatonica; Jose P. Vielma of Countryside; and Tomasz Lech of Crestwood are charged in the beating at the Hells Angels’ clubhouse, then located at 1109 Rock St., Rockford. Johnson’s wallet and keys were stolen, and he testified this week that three TVs, two laptops and his daughter’s iPod were stolen from his home while he was in the hospital.

 
 
 
 

The defendants are charged with armed robbery; aggravated kidnapping; residential burglary; receiving, selling and possessing a stolen vehicle; aggravated battery, and mob action. The five face kidnapping charges because Johnson’s then-11-year-old daughter was taken from the clubhouse without his permission just before the beating began. Witnesses testified on Tuesday that she was taken to her baby sitter and wasn’t harmed.

Johnson testified today that he wasn’t stealing from the club and wasn’t working undercover with the police.

That didn’t mean Johnson, who has moved to an undisclosed location since the beating, wasn’t speaking with police in the days leading up to that 2013 meeting.

Johnson testified that the Rockford club was going to play host to the USA Run, an annual motorcycle rally and campout that can attract hundreds of bikers from across the country. The event, scheduled for July 2013, “is a big deal,” Johnson said, and he had been talking with local officials — including the police. Hosting such a large-scale event is easier with the cooperation of local law enforcement, Johnson said.

 

“And all these (Hells Angels) clubs send in money” to the chapter hosting the USA Run, asked another defense attorney, David Brown. “So your testimony is that no one accused you of taking money from the USA Run?”

Johnson, who grew up in Rockford, testified that he’s since heard various rumors. He’s been accused of stealing Corvettes, working with police and stealing from the club, he said.

The trial is expected to resume on Thursday.

A co-defendant, Aloysius J. Balice of Rockford, is due back in court after these trials, but no court date has been set in his case. Robert A. Bell of Rockford also was charged, but his case was dismissed in March 2016.

The defendants are charged with armed robbery; aggravated kidnapping; residential burglary; receiving, selling and possessing a stolen vehicle; aggravated battery, and mob action. The five face kidnapping charges because Johnson’s then-11-year-old daughter was taken from the clubhouse without his permission just before the beating began. Witnesses testified on Tuesday that she was taken to her baby sitter and wasn’t harmed.

Johnson testified today that he wasn’t stealing from the club and wasn’t working undercover with the police.

That didn’t mean Johnson, who has moved to an undisclosed location since the beating, wasn’t speaking with police in the days leading up to that 2013 meeting.

Johnson testified that the Rockford club was going to play host to the USA Run, an annual motorcycle rally and campout that can attract hundreds of bikers from across the country. The event, scheduled for July 2013, “is a big deal,” Johnson said, and he had been talking with local officials — including the police. Hosting such a large-scale event is easier with the cooperation of local law enforcement, Johnson said.

 

“And all these (Hells Angels) clubs send in money” to the chapter hosting the USA Run, asked another defense attorney, David Brown. “So your testimony is that no one accused you of taking money from the USA Run?”

Johnson, who grew up in Rockford, testified that he’s since heard various rumors. He’s been accused of stealing Corvettes, working with police and stealing from the club, he said.

The trial is expected to resume on Thursday.

A co-defendant, Aloysius J. Balice of Rockford, is due back in court after these trials, but no court date has been set in his case. Robert A. Bell of Rockford also was charged, but his case was dismissed in March 2016.

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Kristen Zambo
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