PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – A late-night brawl outside a Providence strip club will keep the man who police say is the head of the Rhode Island chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle club behind bars, for now.
Superior Court Magistrate Richard Raspallo ruled Joseph Lancia, 28, of Smithfield, had failed to “keep the peace” while out on bail in a separate case and ordered the biker gang leader locked up.
Lancia was arrested Saturday night outside the Cadillac Lounge after a Providence police officer said he witnessed Lancia punch someone, knocking him unconscious. Lancia was charged with two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct and simple assault.
Last July, Lancia was indicted by a grand jury after he allegedly fired a gun at a truck as the driver was passing by the Hells Angels headquarters on Messer Street.
Lancia is facing multiple felony counts including intent to commit murder, assault with a dangerous weapon, discharging a firearm while committing a crime of violence, and carrying a pistol without a permit, in that case.
At the time, Lancia was released on $100,000 surety bail, which means he posted $10,000 in cash to gain freedom.
At Tuesday’s hearing at Providence Superior Court, prosecutors argued that Saturday night’s incident broke the terms of Lancia’s bail and asked that he remain in custody.
Assistant Attorney General Joseph McBurney said the man Lancia punched was an off-duty member of the strip club’s security team.
“Before that individual could even be interviewed by the police, Mr. Lancia and other members of the club insisted that person would not have a complaint when he did regain consciousness,” McBurney said.
The victim declined to file a complaint, according to a police report.
Lancia’s attorney Joseph Voccola said video from the strip club’s security system shows his client was coming to the defense of his fellow club members when he punched the 43-year-old, who he said has a history of violence.
Voccola said the victim had been making threatening statements toward members of the club and was known to carry a gun.
“On the video you even see him in an agitated state of mind,” Voccola said. “There is more to it than Mr. Lancia acting like an enraged maniac throwing punches at someone for no reason at all.”
Several members of the motorcycle club were in the courtroom to show their support for Lancia.
But Raspallo said he wasn’t there to rule if the act was in self-defense, but rather whether Lancia broke the terms of his bail to “keep the peace and be of good behavior.”
“Your client is – the allegation is – out with other people who get into altercations and he comes either to their aid or throws himself into a situation he did not need to get into the middle of,” said Raspallo. “The court is not satisfied if he were to be released on bail that he is going to abide by any terms or conditions that would be placed on him.”
Raspallo ordered Lancia held without bail, adding they would schedule a bail violation hearing at a status hearing that will be held next Tuesday.