PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – About four years ago, Joseph Lancia ascended to the top position of the Rhode Island chapter of the Hells Angels biker gang. On Friday, placed in handcuffs, he was led from a Providence superior courtroom to begin serving a five-year prison sentence.
Lancia, 30, of Smithfield, pleaded no contest last month to the charge of felony assault and battery, as well as carrying a gun without a license. The more serious charges of discharging a firearm when committing a crime of violence, and assault with intent to commit murder, were dismissed as part of the deal.
Judge Kristen Rodgers asked Lancia if he had anything to say before making the punishment official.
“Nothing,” he replied.
Lancia will be placed on 10 years of probation when he gets out of the Adult Correctional Institution in Cranston.
The main case against Lancia stems from a June 2019 incident when police said he fired a gun at a truck driven by Richard Starnino – once a prospect to join the biker club – who was involved in an ongoing dispute with Lancia.
Investigators said video surveillance shows Lancia shooting at the truck as Starnino was driving by the Hells Angels Providence headquarters on Messer Street. The video – which was the main evidence against Lancia – was from the clubhouse’s own security system.
The investigation into the shooting led to a dramatic daytime raid by the R.I. State Police.
“There is a no contact order for the protection of Richard Starnino for the duration of eight years,” Rodgers said at the sentencing.
Attorney General Peter Neronha said cases like Lancia’s are prioritized by his office as a “significant threat.”
“This is a group that is obviously organized. This particular defendant was obviously prepared to engage in violent activity,” Neronha said during a taping of WPRI 12’s Newsmakers. “That is exactly where our prosecutorial focus should be.”
Prosecutors Jim Baum and Joseph McBurney handled the case against Lancia.
Dozens of full-patch members of the Hells Angels were in the courtroom for the sentencing. As Lancia’s wrists were being placed and handcuffs, he nodded at a fellow member and gave the group a smile. A sheriff then led him through a door to be ferried off to the ACI.