Iron Horsemen president the latest Maryland motorcycle-club leader to face criminal charges
In the fall of 2009, the national president of the Pagans Motorcycle Club, David Keith Barbeito of Myersville, near Frederick, was indicted in West Virginia in a massive racketeering conspiracy to which he later pleaded guilty and in 2011 was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Federal inmate records show he was released in December 2011.
Earlier this year, the president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club, Ronald L. “Bugs” Sells of Churchville, near Belair, was charged in a methamphetamine conspiracy to which he has since pleaded guilty, and is scheduled to be sentenced this summer. Two Baltimore men – Michael Privett and Robert Mansfield – were also charged in Pennsylvania as a result of the FBI’s undercover infiltration of the Outlaws chapter.
Most recently, and until now unreported by the media (or so it seems, based on Google searches), in May the president of the Southern Maryland chapter of the Iron Horsemen Motorcycle Club, Robert Scott Grieninger, pleaded guilty to a drugs-and-weapons indictment that resulted from a July 2012 raid on the business he manages, Scooters Garage in La Plata, according to court records. Also pleading guilty in the Charles County case was Grieninger’s nephew, Christopher Scott Grieninger. Both are scheduled to be sentenced in August. Calls to their attorneys were not returned by press time.
Details of the Grieninger case emerged in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on June 12, when the U.S. Attorney’s Office filed civil forfeiture proceedings against property seized as a result of the raid: a 2007 Harley Davidson Street Glide motorcycle and a total of $28,812.59, including money from two bank accounts and $3,364 in cash.
According to an affidavit filed in the forfeiture case signed by DEA Task Force Officer Haven Smith, the search warrant supporting the raid on Grieninger’s business was “based on surveillance and several drug transactions” that occurred there between Christopher Grieninger and a “confidential source.” Robert Grieninger was in the office – along with “four loaded firearms,” a definite no-no, since he “has been convicted of felonies that disqualify him from ever owning, possessing, or being in the vicinity of firearms” – when the raid team entered the business.
When a K-9 unit started sniffing around the place, the affidavit continues, the dog alerted to the “the presence of drugs” in Robert Grieninger’s Harley and his Iron Horsemen leather motorcycle vest. From the bike officers took “approximately 75 new and used small ziplock bags and two digital scales with suspected cocaine residue on both their weighing surfaces,” and from the vest they took “three one-ounce plastic bags of suspected cocaine.”
On the same day, July 27, 2012, Robert Grieninger’s La Plata home was raided, where Christopher Grieninger lives in the basement, according to the affidavit. There, officers found a “loaded Derringer pistol and additional live rounds of ammunition” and a “small ziplock bag of suspected cocaine.”
A decade ago, journalist Michael Amon, who then wrote for The Washington Post, wrote a piece about Maryland motorcycle clubs that extensively quoted Robert Grieninger.
“Grieninger said he doesn’t mind being called an ‘outlaw,’” Amon wrote, “although he dislikes his club being called a ‘gang.’ He prefers the term ‘1 Percenter,’ embracing the American Motorcycle Association’s claim in the 1950s that 1 percent of motorcyclists give the other 99 percent a bad reputation.” Amon quoted Grieninger saying, “you may have to go to prison if you are a 1 Percenter. You have to be willing to die for your brother or to go to prison for your brothers.”
Amon’s piece recounts a late-1990s murder case against Robert Grieninger and another Iron Horsemen for “allegedly beating a man to death with a flashlight at the Mouse Trap bar in St. Mary’s County. The murder charges were dropped, but Grieninger pleaded guilty to second-degree assault on another man at the bar and recently finished serving four years in prison.”
About three years after Amon’s piece was published, Grieninger was again charged for violence – this time it was first-degree assault for an April 2006 incident outside Toot’s Bar in Hollywood, Md., according to media coverage at the time. After cutting a deal with prosecutors, Grieninger served 90 days in jail in that case, for second-degree assault.