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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Hells Angel Gets High-Profile Defense Lawyer

March 08, 2001|DARYL KELLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VENTURA — Veteran criminal defense lawyer Anthony Brooklier will represent national Hells Angels leader George Christie Jr. against charges of running a criminal gang that stole drugs from an Air Force clinic and peddled them to high school students.

In the same case, Hells Angel William "Gunner" Wolf, 30, was freed Wednesday on $1-million bail after his Ventura parents emptied a savings account and agreed to pay $1,000 a month for more than four years to cover a $100,000 bond fee.

Brooklier, whose clients have ranged from his late father, a reputed Los Angeles Mafioso, to Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss, confirmed Wednesday that he will defend Christie in the broad drug-and-racketeering case filed two weeks ago against 28 motorcycle gang members and associates.

"We've filed a formal notice in Superior Court, declaring ourselves as the attorneys," said Brooklier, 54, of Century City. His partner, Donald B. Marks, will also represent Christie.

Brooklier said he had read the indictment but would not comment at least until Christie is arraigned on 23 criminal counts Monday.

Christie said before his Feb. 23 arrest that he expected prominent Los Angeles lawyer Barry Tarlow to represent him. But a source close to Christie said Tarlow's price was too high.

Lawyers have said they expect pretrial motions to last a year, and the trial itself perhaps nine months.

Brooklier first gained attention three years out of law school when he quit his job as a deputy state attorney general to defend his father, the onetime powerful Mafia boss in Los Angeles, against federal racketeering charges. The aging don died in prison, but the son's handling of the case won him a reputation for meticulous preparation and a disarming courtroom style.

Then for two decades, Brooklier--tall and perfectly coiffed--and Marks built a respected law firm that defended white collar criminals, cocaine barons, corrupt public officials, stock swindlers and even law enforcement agents.

In 1999, Brooklier found himself in trouble, pleading guilty to failing to file federal income tax returns for 1993 and 1994, misdemeanor offenses that allowed him to keep his law licenses. After receiving a sentence of eight months in a community correction facility, he pledged to repay $400,000 he owed the Internal Revenue Service in unpaid taxes from 1985 through 1996.

Over the last 18 months, Marks and Brooklier have defended Patrick J. Naughton, the former executive at Walt Disney Co.'s Go.com Internet site, who pleaded guilty last March to crossing state lines with the intent to have sex with a minor.

As Christie, who is being held in lieu of $1-million bail, signed up his defense team, Wolf walked out of Ventura County Jail.

The onetime dockworker was freed after his parents, Gary and Linda Wolf, turned over $51,000 in savings and pledged another $49,000 to a bail bondsman, who posted the $1-million bail.

Gary Wolf, a longshore foreman at the Port of Hueneme, agreed to pay $1,000 a month for 49 months, said the son's lawyer, Jim Farley of Ventura.

Before the release, Farley had to prove to prosecutors' satisfaction that the money was legitimately earned. Prosecutors questioned where the Wolfs had obtained money to buy two rental properties, a house and a duplex, in Ventura, Farley said. They proved they bought the dwellings about 1985, when their son was only 15 years old and long before he became a Hells Angel.

"This shows that his father and mother really love him and have a lot of trust and faith in him," Farley said. "And I'm saying my client did not sell any drugs near any school or anywhere else for that matter. I'm saying he's innocent."

Wolf and Christie are among seven defendants facing $1-million bails. Six others have $500,000 bails.

Of the 28 suspects indicted on 132 criminal counts, all but two are in custody after Zorana Katzakian, manager of Christie Ink House tattoo parlor in downtown Ventura, was arrested Monday, lead prosecutor Jeff Bennett said.

Prosecutors charge that Christie--operating out of the Main Street tattoo parlor and the Angels' clubhouse in west Ventura--oversaw a criminal gang that sold drugs at schools in Ventura and Ojai, evaded employee taxes and hid large amounts of money in secret bank accounts.

Christie, 53, is also charged with fraud and grand theft.

Prosecutors--along with city police and sheriff's deputies--say they spent four years documenting the operations of a Christie-led syndicate that sold Vicodin, Valium and other drugs to children and adults--including several police informants.

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