December 16, 2020 – Midwest biker boss James (Big Frank) Wheeler, The Outlaws Motorcycle Club’s International President in the late 1990s and early 2000s, died behind bars last week of natural causes at 78. Wheeler’s era atop the monster criminal organization was a time of transition, coming on the heels of the prosperous near two-decade reign of iconic Outlaws shot caller Harry (Taco) Bowman.
Big Frank Wheeler came from the club’s “Green Region” and Indianapolis chapter, but was indicted out of Tampa, Florida in the fall of 2002 for drugs, racketeering and murder. Convicted the following year, Big Frank was sentenced to life in prison. He had moved to Florida upon taking power in the club five years earlier.
Before he became boss of The Outlaws in 1997, Wheeler was known as the club’s Poet Laureate and overlord of club activities in Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky, the so-called Green Region. When Taco Bowman was brought down by the feds in an August ’97 bust and went on the run as a fugitive of the law for the next two years, Wheeler assumed control of the club on an acting basis, helping hide him and being his conduit to the street.
The enigmatic Bowman died of cancer last year serving a life sentence. More than 2,500 peoples, including Outlaw luminaries and crime lords from across the country, attended his funeral held at the Ohio State Fairgrounds in Dayton.
Under Bowman’s leadership, The Outlaws upped the ante on its longstanding war against the Hells Angels. Wheeler participated in the infamous September 1994 brawl between The Outlaws and the Hells Angels at an upstate New York racetrack (Lancaster Speedway near Rochester) that ended in the deaths of members in both clubs.
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