Pinellas motorcycle gang member accused of killing victim believed to be a 'snitch,' sheriff says

A murder back in late April in Palm Harbor has been attributed to the work of biker gangs in the area, investigators said.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said Monday that 46-year-old Dominick Paternoster was killed by fellow motorcycle gang members on April 27 because they believed he was acting as an informant working with law enforcement.

Last Friday, a Pinellas County grand jury returned an indictment, charging Paul Mogilevsky from Pinellas Park with first-degree murder in Paternoster's death.

Gualtieri said Mogilevsky is a member of the Mongols Motorcycle Club, which is based out of California, but has local groups across the country. 

"Paternoster was not just killed, he was executed," he said. "More than one gun was used to kill Paternoster."

Photo: Murder suspect Paul Mogilevsky

(Courtesy: Pinellas County Sheriff's Office)

The sheriff said at least one other person was involved in the murder and evidence was disposed of in Tampa Bay that the agency's dive teams had to retrieve. 

"We know more than one person shot and killed Dominick Paternoster, and while Mogilevksy is the only one in custody at this time, he won’t be the last person arrested in this case," the sheriff added. "More arrests will be made."

The sheriff said the Mongols are involved in violent crimes, including "forcing women into prostitution and drug trafficking."

He said Mongol members believed Paternoster was cooperating with investigators and was "a snitch." Sheriff Gualtieri wouldn't confirm if the victim was an informant.

Photo: Murder victim Dominick Paternoster

(Courtesy: Pinellas County Sheriff's Office)

"These people are not the people you see out on Sunday on a motorcycle ride. They are really these gangs of thugs that terrorize," he explained. "They shot Paternoster very dead."

The sheriff said the victim was a member of the Raiders, described as a "feeder group to the Mongols."

"They share the same clubhouse over in Tampa," he explained. "You can get in at different levels and work your way up. It's kind of an initiation process."

READ: Speeding Ferrari driver crashes, kills two inside vehicle on Pinellas Park road, police say

The sheriff described groups like the Mongols as full-on "criminal organizations" that traffic in guns, drugs and prostitution and commit other violent crime across Tampa Bay. 

In 2017 in Pasco County, for example, the head of another biker gang was shot and killed by rival members near a busy intersection. Earlier this year, another member of the Mongols was arrested in Tampa in connection to a gang killing in Colorado. 

"This isn’t something you see in the movies or just happening in California and other places — it is alive and well here," the sheriff said.  "Most of the public is not aware of this and I think it’s important for people to know what’s going on in the community," Gualtieri said.

He added, "This investigation is far from over. We will be serving additional search warrants."

Mogilevsky is being held in the Pinellas County Jail without bond.