Warren biker club president pleads guilty to reduced charges, to be sentenced today
By Ed Runyan
Faced with having his first cousin and stepfather testifying against him at trial, Forever Two Wheelz motorcycle club president David H. Bailes Jr. accepted a plea agreement Monday instead of going to trial.
Bailes, 46, was charged with two counts of aggravated murder in the June 18, 2016, shooting deaths of two members of the Brothers Regime motorcycle club of Leavittsburg and injuring of two other members.
The shootings took place outside of Shorty’s Place tavern on Highland Avenue in Warren Township.
If convicted at trial, Bailes would have gotten a mandatory life prison sentence and might have gotten life in prison without the possibility of parole.
He could get more than 40 years in prison after pleading guilty Monday to two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of felonious assault in the deaths of Robert Marto, 54, of Cortland, and Jason Moore, 41, of Bristolville.
But Bailes is likely to get between 15 and 20 years when he is sentenced at 9 a.m. today by Judge Andrew Logan of Trumbull County Common Pleas Court.
Bailes suffered life-threatening injuries in the gun fight and remains in a wheelchair. Brothers Regime members Andrew Claypool, 50, of Girard and Walter Hughes, 41, of Warren also were hit by gunfire. Marto was Brothers Regime president.
Mike Burnett, assistant county prosecutor, declined to say Monday how many years in prison prosecutors will recommend for Bailes.
But a co-defendant, James A. Gardner, 49, of Warren, Bailes’ stepfather and a Forever Two Wheelz member the day of the shootings, is expected to get between 15 and 20 years in prison when he is sentenced next week.
Gardner pleaded guilty to reduced charges several months ago and agreed to testify at Bailes at his trial. Bailes’ first cousin, Charles C. Dellapenna III, 48, of Warren, who was also a Forevert Two Wheelz member at the time of the shooting, also pleaded guilty to reduced charges and agreed to testify in Bailes’ trial.
Bailes’ mother, Giva Gardner, is also Gardner’s wife. Giva Gardner’s twin sister, Noma Darhower, is mother of Dellapenna.
After Bailes pleaded guilty in the case, his mother cried on her way out of the courthouse, saying, “I don’t understand any of this. It’s not fair. My son’s a good boy. He was only protecting me and the rest of us.”
Giva Gardner said she and other women and children were with Forever Two Wheelz members at Shorty’s Place the day of the shootings. The shootings occurred as a result of a dispute between Forever Two Wheelz and the Brothers Regime as Forever Two Wheelz was preparing for a motorcycle fundraiser that day.
Bailes’ trial was set to begin Monday, but the plea agreement took place instead.
Dellapenna and Gardner, like Bailes, were charged with aggravated murder but Dellapenna pleaded guilty to complicity to involuntary manslaughter and two counts each of complicity to felonious assault and agreed to testify.
Gardner agreed to 15 to 20 years in prison, Dellapenna agreed to a seven-year sentence.
Bailes’ attorney, Mark Lavelle, stood with Bailes as he entered his guilty plea. Bailes has used a wheelchair during most of his hearings. Shortly after the shootings, police said they didn’t expect Bailes to live.