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Bruiser Bedlam arrested on street

By BILL DUNPHY -- Hamilton Spectator

Bruiser Bedlam on his way to the ring with manager Pandora on a recent ICW show in Hamilton. -- Greg Oliver, CANOE
  The former president of a notorious bike gang was arrested on a downtown street yesterday after a passing patrol sergeant saw a man being slugged in the face.

The arrest of Ion William Croitoru, busted like some common hood in a street brawl, is a measure of how far the former Satan's Choice motorcycle club president has fallen in the three years since police decided to target local bike gangs.

Croitoru, better known by his wrestling tags, Bruiser Bedlam and Johnny K-9, has been stripped of his biker "colours" and his club disbanded, police say.

It's a major victory for Hamilton-Wentworth police, who as much as promised to run the bikers out of town three years ago when the Satan's Choice members opened up their Biggar Avenue clubhouse.

"This is a direct result of Project Dismantle," Inspector Dave Bowen said yesterday after confirming Croitoru had been through the humiliation of being stripped of his "colours" -- the distinctive grinning devil that only club members are permitted to wear.

Dismantle was a multi-agency police task force that targeted Satan's Choice for several years culminating in the April 1997 seizure of their clubhouse under federal proceeds of crime legislation. "After the loss of their clubhouse, the national organization disbanded the Hamilton franchise," Bowen said.

"The remaining members have mostly quit, and a small number have joined the Toronto chapter."

According to police, yesterday's punch-up was between two ex-Choice members and was witnessed by acting-Sergeant Steve Holt who was patrolling on Park Row at 1:45 p.m.

"He noticed a man lunging at another and throwing a right cross which struck the man in the mouth," police spokesman Sergeant Dennis Waddle said.

According to Waddle, the victim received a bloodied lip in the attack, but told Holt he didn't want to lay a complaint.

Nevertheless, after an investigation, police charged Croitoru with assault, possession of a concealed weapon, and failing to comply with recognizance, a legal term for violating court-ordered release conditions.

The arrest has placed the bodybuilder behind bars facing the possibility he may remain in jail until the start of an upcoming trial on charges he and several other bikers planted a bomb at the Sudbury police station Dec. 15, 1996 that caused $133,000 in damages to the station and a neighbouring bank.

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