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Cash, Painkiller Seized, Lawyer for Biker Says

May 09, 1998|DARYL KELLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VENTURA — About $100,000 in cash and dozens of bottles of an addictive narcotic painkiller were seized this week during a raid of the Ventura home of the estranged wife of local Hells Angels leader George Christie Jr., Christie's lawyer said Friday.

Another $30,000 in cash was also taken from Christie's house, attorney Robert Sheahen said.

Christie, 51, was arrested on suspicion of narcotics possession Tuesday after investigators found a small amount of cocaine in his night stand. Cheryl Christie, also 51, was arrested on suspicion of possession of drugs for sale when police found large amounts of drugs and cash in her hillside condo. Both are set to appear in court Tuesday morning, but neither has been charged yet.

Authorities have refused to say what types of drugs were found in the homes or how much cash was seized. Nor will they comment on the ongoing investigation--an apparent inquiry into the way George Christie runs his Ventura tattoo parlor and whether he has paid employee taxes. Cheryl Christie is the bookkeeper for the business.

But Sheahen said Friday that the seized cash totals about $130,000, and that the seized drug was Vicodin, a common painkiller that has become popular with prescription drug addicts and other drug users needing a cheap fix.

"[The cash] represented their life savings," Sheahen said. "Because of years of police interference with their legitimate bank accounts, Mr. and Mrs. Christie chose to maintain their personal savings at home in safes. Not one penny of the Christies' life savings is in any way related to drugs or any other illegal activity."

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The lawyer said he did not know how so many bottles of Vicodin--which he estimated as fewer than 40--made their way into Cheryl Christie's hall closet where investigators found them. But they did not belong to the Christies, he said.

"We know that apparently the tablets were found in a hall closet and there was clothing in the closet that doesn't match up to either Mr. or Mrs. Christie, and we are investigating," Sheahen said.

Previously, he had said that the half a gram of cocaine discovered in George Christie's night stand was found with women's clothing and a women's magazine, and did not belong to Christie, a national spokesman for the Hells Angels.

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Sheahen said he could not say who else had access to Cheryl Christie's house and could have left the drugs in her closet.

Vicodin is usually sold legally as a prescription drug for pain. But in recent years it has become popular on the illegal drug market. Hydrocodone, its chief ingredient, is a synthetic codeine.

"It's actually a drug I use for my back pain," said Los Angeles defense lawyer Barry Tarlow, who has consulted with both Christies on their cases. "It's a very common painkiller. . . . But I suppose if you take a couple or three, it probably gets you high."

Authorities say the drug has become a relatively cheap way for addicts to get high because pills can sell for as cheaply as $5 each on the street. Vicodin was also the drug on which star Green Bay Packer quarterback Brett Favre became dependent in 1996 after taking it for an injury.

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