By Meghann M. Cuniff The Spokesman-Review
SPOKANE — Twelve years before he was gunned down while working on a car outside a Spokane home, Jack Thomas Lamere explained to a federal judge how he might meet his demise.
“I’ve been told … that the Hells Angels are going to kill me, that the Gypsy Jokers are going to tear me to pieces,” Lamere, who in 1997 helped federal authorities crack a major methamphetamine ring, testified at the time.
Spokane police say they’re aware of Lamere’s past role as a federal informant who helped send the leader of an outlaw motorcycle gang and others to prison for decades, but they say they have no reason to believe his Sept. 26 slaying involved anything other than a dispute over a vehicle trade.
Police believe the killer is Merle W. Harvey, 27. Harvey has no apparent ties to the bikers Lamere ran with a meth ring that investigators described as one of the biggest busted in Spokane.
Police think Harvey may be staying with a sister in Las Vegas, according to a search warrant for phone records filed Wednesday.
“There’s no indication it was any type of retaliation,” said Spokane police Lt. Dave McGovern. “We’ll see when it all plays out.”
Witnesses say Lamere had traded a Cadillac to Harvey for a Blazer and Harvey wanted the Blazer back.
According to police reports, Lamere, 41, and his friend Jacob J. Potter, 45, were working on the Blazer in front of a home where Lamere was staying with his girlfriend when Harvey showed up in a beat-up flatbed truck driven by his girlfriend, Diane L. Richardson, 34.
Lamere and Harvey argued for several minutes before witnesses say Harvey pulled a .22-caliber rifle from the truck and fired several times, then fired what police think was a .30-06-caliber rifle before fleeing in the truck, witnesses told police. One witness said he heard the shooter “say something to the effect of, ‘This is for ripping me off,’ ” according to a search warrant.
Autopsies showed Lamere and Potter died from gunshot wounds to the chest from a .22-caliber rifle.
Potter had been released from prison in July after serving more than 4 1/2 years for identity theft. Lamere was released from federal prison in September 2008 after serving nearly 11 years of a nearly 13-year sentence for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine, amphetamine and cocaine and possession with intent to distribute meth.
Lamere told jurors in 1997 he served as a bill collector and enforcer for a drug ring masterminded by Richard “Butch” Forrest II, the former president of the Iron Horsemen, a biker gang with ties to the Hells Angels.
Lamere said he helped the group kidnap and torture people over drug debts. Forrest is due to be released from a medium security federal prison in Sheridan, Ore., in 2018.
Lamere spoke of numerous death threats he’d received in jail. One came in an envelope with a photo of a man holding a dead duck.
Lamere’s name was penciled on the bird, according to previously published reports.
But friends said Lamere seemed to have left that life behind. He’d completed a work release program before being released from prison and was described as “an excellent worker.”
At a court appearance two weeks ago for Mark H. Toner, who’s accused of helping hide Harvey, Lamere’s mother said in an interview she knew her son had enemies.
“A lot of people loved him, a lot of people not. That’s up to them,” she said. “He was a human, and he didn’t deserve to die like he did.”