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RI Hells Angels president loses bid for new judge in criminal case

Target 12

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The state’s highest court has denied a request by the head of the Rhode Island chapter of the Hells Angels for a new judge in his criminal trial. 

In an order issued Friday, the R.I. Supreme Court denied Joseph Lancia’s request for them to weigh in on Associate Justice Kristin Rodgers’ decision not to recuse herself from presiding over his case. 

Lancia, 29, is accused of allegedly firing a gun at a truck driven by Richard Starnino – who police said was involved in an ongoing dispute with Lancia – while Starnino was passing by the Hells Angels Providence headquarters on Messer Street in summer 2019.

Lancia’s attorney, Joseph Voccola, has argued the Rogers has a conflict of interest because she’s married to Scott Raynes, a former member of the R.I. State Police and now chief of police in Little Compton. Voccola said Raynes was a member of the same tactical team that conducted a raid on the Hells Angels clubhouse in June 2019. (Raynes retired a year prior to the raid).

Voccola said the defense needs to know if Raynes provided training to any of the members of the tactical team that conducted the raid, and if he was involved in any aspect of a permanent video surveillance system the state police put up outside the clubhouse years ago.

In denying the defendant’s request for recusal earlier this summer, Judge Rodgers said she was “entirely unaware of any involvement by my husband in tactical team training and tactics.”

Prosecutors called Lancia’s request “absurd and condescending.”

Lancia appealed Rodgers’ decision to the state Supreme Court on Aug. 19. The high court’s denial means Rodgers will continue to preside over the case. A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.

R.I. Supreme Court order denying Lancia’s request

Lancia was indicted on 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.

Also arrested in the highly publicized raid was Lance Imor, who state police have identidied as a full-patch member of the Hells Angels.

Both Lancia and Imor have pleaded not guilty.

Tim White (twhite@wpri.com) is the Target 12 investigative reporter and host of Newsmakers for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook

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