New Brunswick

Biker club president pleads guilty to manslaughter

Matthew Thomas Foley pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Thursday in connection with the shooting death of a Saint John man outside of the Bacchus Motorcycle Club's headquarters earlier in July.

Michael Thomas Schimpf was shot on July 14

The Bacchus Motorcycle Club on Pitt Street taped off police continued to investigated the murder of Michael Thomas Schimpf earlier this month. (Matthew Bingley/CBC)

Matthew Thomas Foley, 50, pleaded guilty to manslaughter on Thursday in connection with the shooting death of a Saint John man outside of the Bacchus Motorcycle Club's headquarters earlier in July.

Foley, who was the president of the local motorcycle club, was originally charged with the second-degree murder of Michael Thomas Schimpf, 31.

Schimpf's body was found July 14, at the corner of Pitt and Leinster streets, in the city's south end.

Several rounds were fired from a handgun.

Foley pleaded guilty to manslaughter in a Saint John court on Thursday.

He entered the court handcuffed and in leg shackles, wearing a grey prisoner's uniform.

Police from the tactical unit — some carrying large assault rifles — along with four members of the bikers' club were also in court.

Evidence introduced

The Crown introduced a number of pieces of evidence Thursday, including photos of the crime scene, 9-millimetre shell casings, blood on the sidewalk and Schimpf's blanketed body.

Crown prosecutor James McAvity said Schimpf died from a gunshot wound to the chest.

The Crown also showed video seized from the clubhouse, which was taken by cameras attached to the building.

The video shows Foley in full biker colours, with others partying outside of the clubhouse, according to the CBC's Matt McCann.

The legs of the victim walk into view on the street, then the video shows Foley turn, hand his drink to another person, pull a gun from his vest and follow Schimpf off screen, according to McCann.

The others then jump up and look down the street. Foley then returns, reloads the gun and leaves again.

The Crown then read from a written statement Foley gave police after turning himself in. The letter says the victim threw bricks through the window of Foley's tattoo shop earlier in July.

Both incidents were reported to police.

Foley also said Schimpf threw rocks at him and at a woman in the shop, all of which led to the incident on July 14.

He said in the statement a friend drove him away from the scene.

He said he tossed the gun out the window while on the Courtenay Bay Causeway in Saint John, before stopping at his house where he threw the empty clip into some bushes.

They then went to Moncton to get "one good last drunk on."

Police do not believe Schimpf's death was connected to organized crime. But police do believe Schimpf and Foley knew one another.

While the Bacchus have long maintained they are simply a riding club with no connection to organized crime, Criminal Intelligence Service Canada considers Bacchus an outlaw motorcycle gang.

Last year, police raided the Bacchus clubhouse, based on allegations it housed an illegal bar.

Alcohol, cash and other related items were seized and police suggested the club move.

The property was listed for sale, but has since been delisted, with no explanation.

Schimpf's death is the city’s first confirmed homicide of the year.

Foley will return to court Aug. 15 for sentencing.