A member of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club, who goes by the street name “Hellboy,” was sentenced Monday to four years in prison for the brutal beating of a Hells Angels associate at a Newark gas station in 2018.
Robert DeRonde, 55, of Rahway, had pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated assault for beating the victim, Jeffrey Shank, with a baseball bat at the Exxon station on Elizabeth Avenue on April 24, 2018. Shank suffered multiple broken collar bones as a result of the beating, prosecutors said.
According to the criminal complaint, Shank had just left the Hells Angels’ clubhouse on Clinton Avenue when he stopped for gas. As Shank waited to get his gas pumped, three men pulled up to the gas station and assaulted him.
DeRonde, the complaint said, was driving a Ford pickup truck when he got out and hit Shank in the head with a red baseball bat. Shank was then hit by another man with a baseball bat before he was kicked and punched by a third man, the complaint said.
Surveillance video from the gas station identified the license plate registered to DeRonde’s truck. DeRonde later turned himself into police.
After the incident, the New Jersey State Police circulated a memo to authorities in the state warning them of a violent expansion of the Pagan’s Motorcycle Club into North Jersey. The memo said police should remain vigilant in areas where Pagan’s and Hells Angels congregate.
In recent years, the Pagan’s have been absorbing members from smaller, independent biker clubs as a way to beef up their numbers, the memo stated. At the same time, members of the Pagan’s have started wearing motorcycle jackets — known as their “colors” — with patches that say “East Coast” instead of a local chapter location
This is at the behest of Pagan national President Keith “Conan” Richter out of Long Island.
At DeRonde’s sentencing, Assistant Essex County Prosecutor Joseph Giordano said the four-year prison term “is designed to avoid the impression there is a cost of doing business to the activity that went on in this county.”
“While it is no crime and it is not an issue for anyone wearing a Pagan’s patch or a Hells Angels patch to ride a motorcycle through the county of Essex,” he continued, “it is a problem when members associated with either of those two crews bring violence into this county in association with the organizations.”
DeRonde was previously convicted in 2013 with a felony drug charge for his role in a major Pagan’s Motorcycle Club bust out of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. The sweep resulted in the arrests of 19 Pagan associates from New York and New Jersey, some of who conspired to kill members of the Hells Angels with grenades, according to the indictment.
DeRonde’s attorney, Maximillian Novel, said at Monday’s sentencing that DeRonde has been drug-free for more than eight years and has become a “good father” to his fiancée’s children.
“We all recognize that this is not a minor offense,” Novel said. “Mr. DeRonde has accepted that responsibility.”
Shank, the victim in the case, also has a pending civil lawsuit filed against the owner of the gas station, Downtown Fuel LLC, alleging they failed to “provide safe and secure premises for their patrons.” The lawsuit is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, charging that Shank “sustained serious, permanent and disabling injuries” that have caused him “great financial detriment and loss.”
The owner of the gas station declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.