There's a 1 percent chance a former Hells Angel is behind the murder of former Centre County District Attorney Ray Gricar, Bellefonte police Chief Shawn Weaver said.
"We looked into the claim thoroughly, and there may be some loose ends, but at this point, it is unsubstantiated," Weaver said Saturday of a claim followed up on by the FBI earlier this year.
In a story published in Friday's Mirror, a state prison inmate claimed that a former Hells-Angel-turned-FBI-informant had Gricar killed.
The inmate told the Mirror that he has knowledge of the alleged murder because of his position as a ranking officer in the Hells Angels, one of the top four so-called "one-percenter" outlaw motorcycle gangs, according to the FBI.
One-percenter outlaw motorcycle gangs are defined as "any group of motorcyclists who have voluntarily made a commitment to band together to abide by their organization's rules enforced by violence and who engage in activities that bring them and their club into repeated and serious conflict with society and the law" on the FBI's website.
The FBI hasn't returned calls from the Mirror about the investigation into this claim.
Gricar vanished April 15, 2005. While his car and laptop computer have been located, no one has been able to locate the former DA, who was legally declared dead in 2011.
The latest claim centers around a man who was prosecuted by Gricar's office in 1999 in Centre County Court for aggravated assault. After a one-day trial, the man was convicted and given a four- to eight-year prison sentence.
A check of case documents show a former Hells Angel was convicted after a road rage incident in which he split a driver's head open with a baseball bat, an act described by witnesses as if he was chopping wood.
During a post-sentencing hearing in which then-Assistant District Attorney Steve Sloane sought a longer sentence, a letter from a former FBI agent that was read aloud to the court confirmed the Hells Angel member had worked as an informant for the FBI after he was released from federal prison in the early 1990s.
Records also show the man, whose name is being withheld because he is not a suspect according to police, has an active bench warrant for failing to show up in Centre County Court earlier this year for a hearing on unpaid costs and fines.
Court records show the former Hells Angel stopped making his monthly payments in 2005. Records show his next payment due was April 1, 2005, two weeks before Gricar disappeared. Since then only $5, paid in 2007, has been applied to the restitution balance currently at $4,738.
The file shows no activity in the case until August 2012 when it was taken back from a collection agency. A contempt hearing was held in early 2013, and a bench warrant for his arrest was issued in February, court records show.
Multiple independent witnesses confirmed that the FBI interviewed the inmate who contacted a Mirror reporter about the case and that agents took him to a piece of private property this spring, where he told the Mirror the bodies of Gricar and four others along with guns were buried in a mineshaft now covered by several feet of dirt.
When taken to the site by FBI agents, the inmate balked at revealing the exact spot of the shaft that was supposedly capped and covered with dirt and was returned to prison.
The inmate told the Mirror that worries of self-incrimination stopped him from revealing the spot at the time. After seeking legal counsel, the inmate now said he has immunity and is waiting for the FBI to return to follow through with his offer. The inmate is up for parole in the next two years and hoped revealing the location would help gain a release from his sentence a few years early.
Bellefonte police said Thursday the claim was still open, but there were more interviews to conduct. On Saturday, Chief Weaver went further to say the story was thoroughly checked out and the investigation into the matter is 99 percent wrapped up.
Mirror Staff Writer Greg Bock is at 946-7458.