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Hells Angels Chief Soars as Buddies Fall : Gangs: George Christie Jr. has lectured in schools on ethics, sold his story to Hollywood and been acquitted of murder for hire.

August 25, 1991|DARYL KELLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

When the president of the Angels' Oakland chapter, the club's other spokesman, stammered a response, Christie said quickly that the bylaws were just a piece of paper whose source was unknown. "The Hells Angels is not involved in narcotics transactions as an organization," he insisted.

"Christie saved them," said a state law enforcement analyst. "They know who their speakers are, and Christie is a very well-spoken member. And he is very charismatic. . . . I've seen Christie step in and take care of business when members were getting out of control--getting out of line with law enforcement."

In general, Christie is "very difficult to investigate," the analyst said. "He's so clean. He keeps himself removed. He's not supposed to be doing the dirty business."

Martial Arts Instructor

George Gus Christie Jr., a Ventura native, has been a flattering example of Angel independence and family virtue since the 1970s.

He was one of six Angel leaders profiled in a 1983 Times story that described the "mellowing" of some members of the motorcycle gang. His wife, two children and soft-spoken manner were all noted prominently.

"Being a Hells Angel," Christie explained, "means that people listen to you when you talk, and they move out of your way when you walk down the street. There's a lot of power and you want to make sure that guys that get into the club aren't going to abuse it."

Unlike many of his colleagues, Christie not only finished high school but attended college for two years. And, in contrast to other local Angels, he has held permanent jobs for much of his adult life, court records show.

Today Christie, once a high-voltage electrician for the Defense Department and a cable splicer for General Telephone, operates small businesses out of his sprawling hillside home in Oak View. He also runs a martial arts studio in downtown Ventura.

Average-sized but fit, he is a black belt in both Japanese karate and kung fu. In his classes he mixes those disciplines with lethal Filipino martial arts. He teaches students, who have included several area businessmen, how to kill if they are attacked.

"He's not teaching how to be nice to a guy, he's teaching how to rip him open," student Wendell Mortensen said. "I was surprised to see how lethal an art form can be and still be an art form."

Christie has been the president of the local Angel chapter since its founding 13 years ago. And, court records show, he remains its unchallenged leader.

"I have to get with George first," Angel Tom Heath responded recently when asked to talk about himself.

After arrest, club members have listed Christie as the person to call in case of emergencies, or as a reference before sentencing.

On a 1989 probation report, Clark listed Christie as his part-time employer. Christie also wrote to Superior Court Judge Steven Z. Perren on Clark's behalf.

"He has always shown a concern for others while not compromising his own ideals," Christie wrote of Clark. Christie said he would be available to give the judge "a deeper insight into Jims (sic) lifestyle."

Christie also has attended the trials of his friends, testifying or lending support, prosecutors say.

"He testified in the (1990) Fabricant case," said Deputy Dist. Atty. Roger A. Inman. "That was the first time I ever saw the mythical George Christie. Let's face it, in some circles, he seems to be somewhat of a folk hero."

Christie has been called upon to represent the Angels for at least a decade.

News media interest in him peaked in 1984 and 1985, when the heavily tattooed Hells Angel ran a kilometer with the Olympic Torch. He then sued Kennedy heiress Eunice Shriver, director of the Special Olympics, to make sure the Angels' $3,000 donation went to mentally handicapped kids, not for program administration.

Claims of Harassment

Christie accused federal firearms agents of being responsible for a grenade that was thrown into the Angels' Ventura clubhouse in 1985. And he repeatedly told reporters that the FBI's nationwide crackdown on the Angels was a monumental waste of taxpayers' money.

In fact, Christie's defense in 1987, when charged with soliciting a murder, was that media attention had brought him not only acclaim but the enmity of the FBI, which targeted him for prosecution.

In the summer of 1986, federal agents sent Michael Mulhern--a leader of the Mexican Mafia and longtime informant--to talk with Christie at the Ventura clubhouse.

Prosecutors insisted that a taped conversation caught Christie authorizing the murder of Tom Chaney, a former associate of the Ventura Angels who had turned informant before going to prison on drug charges.

"I'd do it myself if he was here," Christie assured Mulhern, according to a federal transcript of the conversation.

Authorities faked Chaney's prison murder in September, 1986, and Christie soon showed up at Mulhern's Ventura motel.

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