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R.I. Hells Angels boss charged with firing gun at passing car in Providence

Joseph Lancia.
Joseph Lancia. (Rhode Island State Police)

The president of the Rhode Island Chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle club was arrested this week after allegedly firing a shot at a vehicle that passed the group’s Providence headquarters, State Police said.

In a statement, Rhode Island State Police identified the alleged gunman and Hells Angels boss as Joseph Lancia, 28, of Smithfield.

He is accused of firing a gun around 10:40 a.m. Wednesday at a passing vehicle outside the group’s clubhouse on Messer Street, hitting the passenger side but not injuring anyone, according to the statement.

The alleged victim told investigators that “someone had fired a single gunshot at his vehicle as he drove past the motorcycle club’s headquarters at that location,” the statement said.

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Lancia was arrested without incident, and troopers obtained a search warrant to look through the club. Investigators seized “three firearms and assorted ammunition,” the statement said.

Lancia faces charges in Sixth Division District Court in Providence of assault with a deadly weapon — firearm, discharging a firearm when committing a crime of violence, carrying a gun without a permit or license, and firing in a compact area, State Police said.

At arraignment Thursday, prosecutors said Lancia was captured on video shooting at a vehicle, while his lawyer maintained he has strong ties to the community, WPRI-TV reported. Lancia’s attorney said his client was expected to post $10,000 surety bail, according to WPRI.

Lancia was not the only one arrested at the clubhouse.

Howard J. Pollitt, 45, of Fall River and Amber E. Gill, 25, of Providence were both charged with obstructing a police officer and resisting arrest. They were taken into custody, officials said.

Pollitt and Gill were also arraigned at the same courthouse Thursday and released on personal recognizance, officials said.

Lancia has had prior brushes with the law, court records show. He was sentenced to probation in 2012 for willful trespass and simple assault, and he’s also been cited for several motor vehicle offenses, according to an online state court database.

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Lancia’s Wednesday arrest comes about a month after another Hells Angels biker from Rhode Island, Douglas Leedham, 54, of North Providence, pleaded guilty in federal court in Providence to charges of trafficking methamphetamine and cocaine and being a felon in possession of a gun.

Leedham was arrested in February after investigators searched his home and found just under 40 grams of methamphetamine, 19 grams of cocaine, two guns, a 12-gauge shotgun, two body armor vests, 35 knives, four hatchets, a handful of batons, a set of brass knuckles, and cash, according to prosecutors. He’s slated for sentencing on July 29.

The Hells Angels also have a presence in Massachusetts.

Multiple members of the Hells Angels and Red Devils biker clubs in Massachusetts were arrested in March 2013 during raids at their hangouts in Lynn and Byfield on charges of charges of kidnapping, mayhem, and extortion.

The day before the raids, Hells Angel Eric Franco, 38, a Lynn man with a lengthy criminal record, received a 22-year term for a federal gun conviction.


Danny McDonald of the Globe staff contributed to this story. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.