Former detective shares insights on outlaw biker code – Park Rapids Enterprise

Former Hennepin County Sheriff’s Detective Chris Omodt shared a program about the crimes, culture and clashes of outlaw motorcycle gangs (OMGs) on Tuesday, April 2 at the Headwaters Center for Lifelong Learning.

Omodt, who lives part-time in the Nevis area, was scheduled to share the podium with Pat Matter, former Minnesota Chapter president of the Hells Angels and co-author with him of “Breaking the Code: A True Story by a Hells Angel President and the Cop Who Pursued Him.” However, Matter could not be present due to illness.

According to his presentation, Omodt retired as a captain in 2012 after 32 years in law enforcement, including 11 years with the Edina Police Department.

“After I retired, I got together with a guy that I actually sent to prison,” he said, leading to their 2014 book.

At the sheriff’s office, Omodt specialized in investigating organized crime, including OMGs. He also spent a year cleaning up internal issues as commander of Minnesota’s Financial Crimes Task Force, and later took command of the Metro Gang Strike Force.

“It was beyond belief how dirty it was,” he said. “There was no saving it, so I actually shut it down. I had a lot of threats in 2009 over that.”

A sometime crimiinal justice instructor at Brown College, and expert witness on OMGs in federal court, Omodt currently helps defense attorneys review cases involving outlaw bikers.


The Event Room in Park Rapids was packed Tuesday, April 2, as the Headwaters Center for Lifelong Learning presented author and former organized crime investigator Chris Omodt.

Robin Fish / Park Rapids Enterprise

Meanwhile, Matter brought himself up due to a “pretty grim” family situation. “He pretty much did his own thing since about age 11 and built his own life,” Omodt said.

Quitting school after seventh grade, Matter started hanging with a rough crowd. Starting in the Fort Dodge, Iowa, chapter of the Grim Reapers, he was an outlaw biker for over 31 years. After moving to Minnesota, he became president of the Minneapolis Grim Reapers and led the club through the process of joining Hells Angels, serving as the Minnesota chapter president for 21 years.


Outlaw biker Pat Matter rides a chopper in downtown Minneapolis.

Contributed / Chris Omodt

He also raced motorcycles professionally and founded and owned Minneapolis Custom Cycle, selling his own line of V-twin motorcycles called MCC Thunderbolts. Omodt said Matter was well on his way to becoming a legitimate millionaire when the law caught up to him.

“His history caught up with him,” said Omodt. “He’d been investigated many times by the feds, the locals, you name it. He had been in prison a couple times on various charges. But no one had ever gotten him for his lifelong dope dealing and other things he was involved in.”


Police mugshots show a young Pat Matter with his criminal career already underway.

Contributed / Chris Omodt

In the 1990s, Omodt said, Matter orchestrated the Hells Angels’ expansion into Illinois and Indiana – triggering a turf war with the rival Outlaws and leading to at least two attempts on his life. In one instance, his pickup was blown up when a bomb detonated prematurely.


A bomb detonated early under Pat Matter’s truck, one of at least two attempts on his life during a gang war between Hells Angels and Outlaws.

Contributed / Chris Omodt

Gang violence spread to other states, including two grenades being thrown into an Outlaw leader’s home in Buffalo, N.Y.; an aborted shootout in Indiana where law enforcement seized an armored van full of weapons; an attempted hit – ordered by Matter – on an Outlaw member in Chicago, and a clash between the two gangs that left two dead on a race track in New York.

Further bombings followed, including what was then the third most powerful bomb detonated in the U.S. when the Outlaws attacked a Hells Angels prospect gang’s Chicago clubhouse. Around the time Indiana and Illinois chapters of Hells Henchmen made “full patch” as Hells Angels, gang members on both sides of the war were shot dead in the Chicago area.

“He led a pretty violent life, once upon a time,” Omodt said of Matter. “But in the end, he turned his life around.”

Omodt described Matter as five-foot-six, “tough as nails,” with “balls of brass.”


Pat Matter had a successful, legitimate business building custom motorcycles like this MCC Thunderbolt.

Contributed / Chris Omodt

“I don’t know anybody that’d want to fight the guy, because he’s pretty tough,” said Omodt, “but he’s very deceiving. If you look at him, you don’t think he’s as tough as he is.”

Omodt said Matter was racing on a track in rival gang territory, and members of the local gang were in the stands, threatening to harm his crew. Matter walked up them and said, “Stop it. I’m trying to race.” And they backed off.

Violence was a regular part of OMG culture. Omodt said weekly chapter meetings, known as “church,” rarely ended without some disgraced member being beaten. Bar fights involving gang members ended in injuries and even death. Matter lost some close friends that way.

There were also times when a gang would kill one of its own, to silence someone suspected of cooperating with the law.

Despite all the violence and drug dealing, it was a motorcycle theft ring that ultimately led to his bust. Ironically, Matter’s gang weren’t the culprits.

In fact, Omodt said, Matter’s friend, Mark Armstrong, was among the victims when the thieves pried the siding off his garage, broke in through the side wall, loaded three bikes onto a truck and drove off. The thieves didn’t notice that a large amount of illegal drugs was stored in that garage.


Investigation of a theft ring that made Minnesota a bad place to park a Harley-Davidson in 1993-97 led to a chop shop full of stolen and after-market motorcycle parts that were being reassembled, many of them as fake Harleys.

Contributed / Chris Omodt

Omodt shared clips of news coverage as authorities looked into a 1993-97 crime wave in which Minnesota led the nation in Harley-Davidson thefts, with 500 bikes stolen and unrecovered, worth over $10 million.

The case started to break when a thief crashed a Harley in south Minneapolis and fled, leaving behind a pager that was traced back to Tony Morales and his criminal associates.

Morales, described as being addicted to stealing motorcycles, was caught a month later, trying to steal a Harley despite having a broken leg. A subsequent search warrant turned up some freshly stolen motorcycles and items belonging to Armstrong.

Further investigation uncovered a theft ring and a chop shop full of stolen Harley parts, Omodt said. The theft ring was apparently using stolen and aftermarket parts to build new bikes, sometimes falsely badged as Harleys, and using fraudulent vehicle identification numbers.

Meanwhile, police perked up when Armstrong posted a $3,000 reward for “info” on his stolen bikes – a generous offer for mere information.

Omodt also noted that during the bike theft wave, Hells Angels marked their bikes with stickers to warn thieves off, and put out word that if anyone unknowingly stole a gang member’s bike, they could just leave it on the street and phone in its location.

Omodt and his team spent several years building a case against Matter and Armstrong before they were indicted in 2002. Once he decided to cooperate, Matter would only talk to Omodt, who attributed this to his way of treating others as he would want to be treated. Despite Omodt helping bust Matter, the two formed a mutual respect.


Pat Matter and his wife, Trish stood by each other, despite his 10 years in prison.

Contributed / Chris Omodt

“I believe in giving people second chances,” said Omodt. “We kind of had a little bond, there. It started from the first day I picked him up at the Anoka County Jail. He said, ‘I’ve got to do my time, and I’m doing it for my wife.’”

Omodt noted that Matter’s wife, Trish, stood by him the whole time he was in prison. Before going into prison, Matter asked Omodt to look out for her, though Hells Angels usually leave family members alone. “Out of respect, I did do that,” said Omodt. “I did keep an eye on her for 10 years.”

Omodt said law enforcement had heard that Matter had money buried in his yard. When the prosecution offered him 10 years in jail and a $500,000 fine, Omodt said, Matter whispered something to his attorney and the attorney said, “That’ll be fine. We’ve got to wait for the ground to thaw.”


Hells Angels Minnesota President Pat Matter poses for his U.S. Marshals mug shot. According to Omodt, his middling stature is deceptive; Matter is a tough guy you wouldn’t want to mess with.

Contributed / Chris Omodt

Matter ended up pleading guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to distribute meth. Despite the prosecution’s offer of a shorter sentence, the judge upped it to 17-1/2 years in prison – which Omodt said made him angry because it went back on their deal.

Part of that deal involved Matter breaking the gang’s “code of silence,” testifying against other members of Hells Angels.

As a result, Omodt said, Matter did his time in a prison wing devoted to federal witness protection inmates – a place where no one on the outside can find out where you are.

A mural on the gang’s Minneapolis clubhouse once depicted Matter and two other Hells Angels leaders. After he cooperated with prosecutors, the mural was defaced – literally – with Matter’s head replaced by a black oval.


Pat Matter’s face was blacked out of a mural at the Hells Angels Minneapolis clubhouse after he decided to cooperate with prosecutors.

Contributed / Chris Omodt

Nevertheless, upon his release in 2012, Matter moved back to the same home where he had lived before his arrest, as if unconcerned about retaliation.

Talking about gang culture

“Before I retired, I was asked to come down to Peoria (Ill.) to speak at the Midwest Outlaw Motorcycle Gang Investigators conference,” said Omodt, who asked if he could bring along a former Hells Angels president as his co-presenter and was told, “Hell, yeah.”

He called Matter’s wife and asked if Pat would join him to tell cops from all over the country how the Hells Angels operate, and she said, “Will he get paid?” Omodt said yes, and she said, “He’ll be there.”


Omodt said the sticker on this phone at the Hells Angels Minneapolis clubhouse reflects the gang’s paranoia, adding that law enforcement actually hadn’t tapped their phones.

Contributed / Chris Omodt

“Two weeks after he gets out of prison, we’re on a plane to Peoria,” said Omodt, saying their presentation was well received. “We couldn’t even get out of there afterwards. The line to talk to him was very long, and everyone was very respectful to him.”

That led them to discuss writing a book together. Omodt had already started writing a book on the investigation, but he pivoted and worked with Matter on it.


Retired Hennepin County Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Omodt, at left, and former Hells Angels Minnesota Pres. Pat Matter are co-authors of a book titled “Breaking the Code: A True Story by a Hells Angel President and the Cop Who Pursued Him.”

Contributed / Chris Omodt

Last summer, they also took part in shooting a documentary series, “Secrets of the Hells Angels,” slated to premiere Sunday, April 14 on A&E. Omodt said they helped enlist other Hells Angels presidents, and even a hitman, to be interviewed for the show.

Since Matter went to prison, Omodt said, Hells Angels has expanded to four chapters in Minnesota, a rapid expansion that Matter says will become a problem for the gang, already facing fresh legal trouble on the Iron Range.

Hells Angels are “very prevalent across the nation, and the world,” said Omodt. “When people think about organized crime, the first thing that comes to their mind usually is Italians coming to the United States. The Hells Angels is the first organized crime group to go from the United States to other countries.”

Quoting a gang member saying, “The club comes first, family second,” Omodt said, “That’s absolutely true. The club comes first and foremost, before anything.

“But that’s where Pat changed. He said he’s had enough of it and he wants to have a family life. That’s what I saw of him.”


This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.