Pagans member denies leadership role in outlaw motorcycle club

·4 min read

Mar. 11—The man authorities have identified as the president of a local chapter of the Pagans Motorcycle Club pushed back on that description Friday from inside the county jail.

Michael Allan Murphy, 49, who faces a felony count of issuing a bad check in Flathead County District Court, said the Pagans boast too few members in the area to warrant a chapter.

"To have a chapter in Kalispell you have to have a certain amount of guys," Murphy said. "There is no chapter in Kalispell; there's only two guys in Kalispell that even associate with them. It's more for riding and stuff like that."

Officials identified Murphy as the club's chapter president while announcing his Feb. 28 arrest in a press release issued March 3. Probation and parole officers, in conjunction with the Flathead County Sheriff's Office and Kalispell Police Department took Murphy into custody in the Empire Loop area on an active parole violation warrant, officials said.

Another man taken into custody on outstanding warrants at the same home as Murphy was described by law enforcement as the local chapter's vice president.

Sheriff Brian Heino said Friday that authorities determined Murphy's alleged leadership status while investigating the 49-year-old. They already knew he was in the organization from images of him sporting the motorcycle club's patches, Heino said.

"During the investigation, individuals identified, during witness testimony, that he was the president," Heino said.

While disputing the title, Murphy in a phone call with Inter Lake acknowledged his membership in the club, which he described as far less violent or criminal than reflected in popular culture.

"A lot of things you hear about the Pagans is from the old days," he said. "There are bad apples in every group."

Despite Murphy's assessment, the U.S. Attorney's Office deems the group an outlaw motorcycle gang. A man described as a national leader of the club in Raleigh, North Carolina, earned a 900 month prison sentence in early February after being convicted of drug trafficking, firearm and money laundering charges.

Murphy said he got involved in the motorcycle club looking for a way to bond with other men, often with checkered pasts, trying to help each other move forward.

"We're portrayed like we're bad asses and all that," said Murphy.

Murphy carries a lengthy criminal history, with sentences for theft, burglary, bail jumping, forgery, criminal endangerment and deceptive practices, according to records with the Montana Department of Corrections. He admitted to his prior bad behavior, but said he had spent the past several years living on the straight and narrow.

"I'm done with it," he said. "I'm done with that part of my life."

DESPITE HIS ties to the Pagans, Murphy is behind bars on a probation violation, he said. His sole felony charge in district court stems from the alleged passing of bad checks and, according to court documents, he is cleared for release on his own recognizance in that case.

Prosecutors alleged that Murphy wrote out checks worth $31,148.20 between Oct. 13-19, which were returned for non-sufficient funds. Murphy described the charge as arising from a mix-up. The checks were written from his business account and he had expected an incoming payment to cover the costs, he said.

"They're really trying to nail me to the stake right now," Murphy said. "They're trying to take me down because of the fight."

The fight refers to the massive brawl that broke out during a boxing event at the Majestic Valley Arena on Feb. 11. Officials estimated that 50 people were involved in the skirmish, which left two injured and one woman — Brandi Laree Partney of Walla Walla, Washington — facing felony charges in district court. Partney pleaded not guilty to assault with a weapon and tampering with or fabricating evidence at her Feb. 23 arraignment.

The fight, which officials said involved both Pagans and members of the Warlords Outlaw Motorcycle Club, remains under investigation by local detectives in cooperation with state officials and authorities in Washington state. Deputies were joined by Kalispell Police officers and Montana Highway Patrol troopers in responding to the brawl.

Murphy said he was involved in sponsoring the boxing matches. The event was supposed to be a good thing for the community, he said.

"It turned out to be a totally messed up situation," Murphy said.

His understanding is that the fight broke out when a patron refused to stop touching motorcycles at the event. Arriving in the middle of the fracas, Murphy said he hopped on his motorcycle and took off.

In retrospect, the entire evening was a mistake, he said.

"It's making me look like a menace to society and I'm a pretty good guy with a big heart," he said. "I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, yes, but I'm a pretty good guy."

News Editor Derrick Perkins can be reached at 758-4430 or