Former Leader of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Gang Joins Trump in Court

NEW YORK — An entourage of more than a dozen supporters who joined former President Donald Trump in a Manhattan courthouse Monday included a former president of an outlaw motorcycle gang in New York City who spent years in prison on drug charges.

The man, Chuck Zito, helped found in the early 1980s the New York Nomads chapter of the Hells Angels, the infamous club that started in California. The Justice Department described the organization as a criminal enterprise and linked the New York chapter to the Gambino crime family. Zito later left the biker group to try to become a movie star in Hollywood.

Trump has long shown an affection for macho bikers, and addressed a rally of them in Washington in 2016 before the election. (“Do we love the bikers? Yes. We love the bikers,” he told the crowd.) A group called Bikers for Trump took part in several so-called Stop the Steal rallies after Trump lost the 2020 election.

Zito was joined in the courtroom Monday by several Trump allies who have been charged with crimes.

They included Boris Epshteyn, a legal adviser indicted in an Arizona case related to attempts to keep Trump in power after the 2020 election, and Bernard Kerik, the former commissioner of the New York Police Department, who was imprisoned for tax-related charges and later pardoned by Trump. The entourage was so large that Epshteyn helped coordinate seating.

Zito has experience with the criminal justice system, having served a prison term from 1985 to 1991 on drug conspiracy charges. In recent decades, he has created a new career as a stuntman and occasional actor, starring most prominently as Chucky “The Enforcer” Pancamo in the HBO prison drama “Oz.”

Zito is also something of a professional tough-guy-about-town with many acquaintances in New York and Hollywood. He once served as a boxing trainer for actor Mickey Rourke, and when mob boss John Gotti died of cancer in 2002, Zito was one of the few non-Mafia members to attend the wake at a funeral home in Queens.


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