Detroit Mayor's Adviser, Ex-Cops Among 74 Charged in Motorcycle Gang Sting
DETROIT – An adviser to the mayor and two former police officers were among dozens of members and associates of a motorcycle gang charged Thursday with attempted murder, cocaine and steroid distribution and other crimes.
Attorney Hatim "Tim" Attalla, a member of newly elected Mayor Dave Bing's volunteer crisis team, was named in a 35-count indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
Federal prosecutors said he acted "as general counsel" for the gang, the Highwaymen, and accused him of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and distribution of, controlled substances.
Authorities said 30 defendants were in custody Thursday, and others were being sought. Some suspects told law enforcement officials that they would turn themselves in. It was not immediately known whether Attalla was arrested.
Bing said in a statement released Thursday night that he was "surprised and disappointed" to learn of Attalla's indictment. He said Attalla was being vetted and put through orientation but will resign immediately.
Phone and e-mail messages for Attalla left after-hours Thursday were not immediately returned.
The indictment caps a long-running investigation of the Highwaymen by the FBI, the U.S. attorney's office and state and local law enforcement agencies.
Of the 74 people charged, 16 men were accused of being leaders of the gang and of directing others to carry out crimes. Some defendants were accused of conspiring to kill members of another motorcycle club and others were charged with transporting stolen motorcycles into Michigan.
If convicted, the defendants could face prison sentences that include up to 40 years for cocaine distribution.
In addition to Attalla, two former police officers from Garden City and Hamtramck and group president Joseph "Little Joe" Whiting were among those named in the indictment. Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane Marion said Whiting was expected to be arraigned Friday and would seek a court-appointed attorney.
William Swor, an attorney for ex-Garden City police sergeant David "Stifler" Tomlan, said his client liked to ride motorcycles and had "done nothing wrong." Richard Convertino, attorney for former Hamtramck police officer Randell Hutchinson, said his client was not a member or an associate of the Highwaymen.
The investigation, which spanned many years, was "the largest prosecution in the history of Michigan" and one of the largest of its kind in the country, U.S. Attorney Terrence Berg said Thursday.
The Highwaymen is a national organization based in Detroit, Berg said. An e-mail message seeking comment from the club was not immediately returned Thursday.