Laconia Hells Angel pleads guilty to federal drug charges

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LACONIA — A Laconia man who allegedly belongs to the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club pleaded guilty in federal court Thursday to four counts of distributing methamphetamine, federal prosecutors said.

James Cunningham, 61, sold 26.6 grams (.94 ounce) of methamphetamine on four occasions in 2013 to an individual who was cooperating with the FBI, according to a statement released by acting U.S. Attorney for New Hampshire John J. Farley.

Three of the transactions took place in Manchester and one in Merrimack.

 

Cunningham was one of four men arrested and charged by federal authorities with drug trafficking crimes last June 9.

The other three were Timothy Raxter, 52, of Tilton, who also was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm; Harry Bolton, 63; and Kenneth Bailey, 52, both of Weare.

They pleaded guilty to the charges last fall and are awaiting sentencing.

"We're pleased to see Mr. Cunningham, a member of one of the most violent and notorious gangs in the United States, finally accepting responsibility for trafficking illegal narcotics," said Harold H. Shaw, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston Division.

Each drug charge is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $1 million.

The maximum penalty for the firearms charge against Raxter is 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

Cunningham is currently free on bond pending sentencing, which is scheduled for May 9.

 

Raxter pleaded guilty to the charges last Nov. 7 and is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 15. Bolton and Bailey are due to be sentenced next Thursday.

Court filings and statements made in court established that on Jan. 23, 2017, Laconia police executed a search warrant on Raxter’s vehicle, seizing a .40-caliber pistol and approximately 10 grams of “ice” methamphetamine. As a previously convicted felon, Raxter is prohibited from possessing firearms.

Seven months before Cunningham was arrested on the drug-trafficking charges, he was charged with domestic assault after a two-hour standoff with police at his Weirs Boulevard residence in Laconia.

Cunningham's victim in that incident told authorities he had beaten her with a pool cue, slapped her, and threatened to "slash her throat" and "bash her head in." Cunningham was arraigned on two counts of second-degree domestic violence assault charges in connection with the incident, but the charges were never presented to a grand jury, according to the Belknap County Attorney's office.

The federal drug case involved personnel from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, including the Laconia and Tilton police departments.

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