PROVIDENCE (B-N.C) – A Superior Court judge is refusing to step aside from presiding over a case involving the purported president of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club’s Rhode Island chapter and his associate, although her husband was formerly a lieutenant with the Rhode Island State Police.
Judge Kristin E. Rodgers rejected a request by Joseph M. Lancia, 28, of Smithfield, a full-patch Hells Angels member; and Lance R. Imor, 54, of West Warwick, that she recuse herself from hearing the case stemming from a June 12 raid at the Hells Angels clubhouse at 161-163 Messer St.
Lancia and Imor had argued that it would create an appearance of impropriety for Rodgers to oversee the case, because her husband, Scott N. Raynes, is a retired lieutenant of the state police. Raynes now works as the police chief in Little Compton.
Lawyers for Lancia and Imor, Joseph Voccola and Jason Dixon Acosta, respectively, had asserted that Raynes or someone under his supervision may have written documents involved in the case.
In striking down their challenge, Rodgers emphasized her husband’s position as director of the Rhode Island Municipal Training Academy from 2011 through December 2017. He then returned to the Uniform Division until his retirement February 2018.
His only visit to the Messer Street clubhouse was in 2004, when he was part of the tactical team that helped secure the premises while other officers executed a raid, she said.
“To suggest that Chief Raynes’ entry into that particular premises decades ago creates an appearance of impropriety is as unreasonable as concluding that recusal is required in a motor vehicle accident case where a judicial officer’s spouse patrolled the roadway on which that accident occurred in his role as a police officer many years before,” Rodgers wrote.
“The facts and circumstances on the record and in reality are bereft of any bias, prejudice, or appearance of impropriety,” she said.
Lancia, of 40 Fanning Lane, Greenville, was arrested in June as part of an investigation into reports of shots fired near the West Side clubhouse.
Authorities say Lancia fired a shot at a driver passing by the club on Messer Street in Providence’s West End, striking the car but not injuring anyone.
A month later, a grand jury indicted Lancia, on charges of assault with intent to murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm while committing a crime of violence, and carrying a pistol without a permit, the state police said.
Also indicted was Imor on charges of possession of methamphetamine, compounding and concealing a felony, and misprision of a felony, meaning he is accused of failing to inform authorities that a felony has occurred.
Amber E. Gill, 25, of Providence, was also indicted on a charge of possession of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance in marijuana.
All three have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Lancia remains held without bail at the Adult Correctional Institutions after being charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct following an altercation at the Cadillac Lounge in March. He has pleaded not guilty in that case as well.
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