Local Hells Angels leader begins serving 5 years in state prison for possessing illegal gun and assault

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Attorney General Peter F. Neronha and Colonel James M. Manni, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police, announced that the leader of the Rhode Island chapter of the Hells Angels appeared today in Providence County Superior Court to begin serving five years at the Adult Correctional Institutions (ACI) after pleading to multiple felony charges stemming from a shooting incident outside of a Hells Angels clubhouse in Providence in 2019 and a fight at a Providence strip club in 2020.


On January 21, 2022, Joseph Lancia (age 30) of Smithfield, entered a plea of nolo contendere to assault with a dangerous weapon, possession of a pistol without a license, and assault for the purpose of causing unconsciousness. The Court stayed execution of the defendant’s sentence until today.


At a hearing before Superior Court Justice Kristin E. Rodgers, the Court sentenced the defendant to 15 years, with five years to serve at the ACI and the balance of the sentence suspended with probation. The Court also issued a no contact order between the defendant and his victims. Additionally, the Court ordered that the defendant pay restitution in the amount of $3,650.


“This case is an example of how this Office, while working with our partners in law enforcement, have focused our resources to target those who are driving violent crime in our state. The defendant here is the leader of an organization well-known to engage in criminal activity here in the state and represents a serious risk to the safety of Rhode Islanders,” said Attorney General Neronha. “The people of our state should feel safer knowing that this defendant is going to serve significant time behind bars. I am particularly grateful to the Rhode Island State Police for their comprehensive work on a critical investigation like this.”



2019 Shooting


Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on the morning of June 12, 2019, the defendant fired an illegal handgun at the driver of a truck traveling by a Hells Angels clubhouse at the intersection of Wendall Street and Messer Street in Providence.


The defendant is known to law enforcement as the president of the Rhode Island chapter of the Hells Angels motorcycle club, designated as an outlaw motorcycle gang by the United states Department of Justice, that is involved in criminal activity in Rhode Island and nationally through club chapters in numerous states.


The victim is known to law enforcement as a former prospect for membership in the Rhode Island chapter of the Hells Angels who, at the time, was involved in an ongoing dispute with the defendant.


That morning, as the victim drove a Mack semi-truck by the clubhouse on Wendell Street, the defendant, while standing on the sidewalk, drew a .25 caliber semi-automatic handgun and fired one shot at the truck. Following the shooting, the victim continued to drive away, turning his truck onto Messer Street, while the defendant walked inside the clubhouse.


Shortly thereafter, another known member of the Rhode Island chapter of the Hells Angels arrived at the clubhouse and removed a digital video recorder (DVR) that had captured footage of the shooting incident. This individual was also arrested and charged with misprision of a felony (concealing a crime).


During the investigation of the shooting, members of the Rhode Island State Police Tactical Team executed a warrant at the clubhouse on Messer Street and seized evidence, including three handguns and various types of ammunition.


The State Police also recovered the .25 caliber bullet fired by the defendant in the passenger-side door of the truck.


“I applaud the exhaustive investigative efforts of our Troopers and the Attorney General’s office for bringing Mr. Lancia to Justice,” said Colonel James M. Manni, “The illegal, dangerous, and reckless behavior of this defendant put children and other bystanders in grave danger during this incident and I’m glad he will be off our streets for a number of years.”



2020 Assault


Had the case proceeded to trial, the State was prepared to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that on the evening of February 29, 2020, the defendant punched an individual during a fight involving members of the Hells Angels at a Providence strip club, causing him to lose consciousness. Members of the Providence Police Department who were on scene at the time of the assault immediately arrested the defendant.


Members of the Rhode Island State Police Intelligence Unit, Detective Theodore Michael of the Providence Police Department, and Assistant Attorneys General James R. Baum and Joseph J. McBurney of the Office of the Attorney General led the investigation and prosecution of the cases.