11:28 AM ET 10/06/98
Amish men plead guilty in cocaine conspiracy case
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Two Amish men could face years in
prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine
at youth hoedowns run by the insular religious sect known as the
Old Order Amish, federal officials said Tuesday.
Abner Stoltzfus, 24, and Abner King Stoltzfus, 23, who are
not related, entered guilty pleas in federal district court in
Philadelphia on Monday. Other charges contained in a June
indictment were dropped by federal prosecutors as part of a plea
No sentencing date was set. But federal officials said the
conspiracy charges carry penalties of five to 40 years in prison
and up to $2 million in fines.
In what was believed to be the first case of its kind to
occur within the Amish community, the two men were indicted for
selling cocaine and methamphetamines obtained from an East Coast
motorcycle gang known as the Pagans between 1992 to 1997. Drug
sales were targeted at Amish youth groups called the Crickets,
the Antiques and the Pilgrims.
The Amish, who arrived in Pennsylvania during colonial
times, formally eschew electricity, cars and other modern
conveniences for the simpler ways of the 18th century.
The insular community has been rocked by the Stoltzfus case,
which some view as the result of a community decision to relax
the strict Amish code of life known as the ``Ordnung'' more than
a decade ago. The change has allowed Amish people to leave the
traditional farm for more modern endeavors in business and the
Both Stoltzfus men worked as roofers and met their alleged
accomplices in the Pagans motorcycle gang on construction jobs.
On another religious and strange note, a preacher named 'Punkin' Brown died of a
church service rattlesnake bite here in my home state of Alabama...(Ian, when
you find a good place to live in San Jose, let me know.)
I'm familiar with the area where this happened, people around here jokingly call
it 'heathen ridge' because of the cult like holiness movement there.
The Rev. John Wayne "Punkin" Brown Jr., 34, of
Parrottsville, Tenn., died Saturday night while handling
a four-foot timber rattlesnake during a sermon,
preaching on for a quarter-hour after he was bitten. His
wife died of a snake bite three years ago.