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VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Hells Angel's Bid to Lower $1-Million Bail Denied

Hearing: Judge, dismayed that teenagers were alleged customers, refuses defense request. George Christie Jr. will still try to post bond.

March 27, 2001|DARYL KELLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

VENTURA — Jailed Hells Angels leader George Christie Jr. lost his bid for freedom Monday when a Superior Court judge called his alleged sale of drugs to teenagers "awful" and refused to lower his $1-million bail.

Christie, 53, is charged with running a criminal gang that stole drugs from a Los Angeles Air Force base clinic and peddled them to high school students.

"I have to accept that the charges are true," Judge Arturo Gutierrez said at a bail hearing. "[If so, that] is awful, targeting minors."

Christie, arrested a month ago, will now try to raise $100,000 to pay the fee for the $1-million bond. He is prepared to offer the equity in three houses his family owns, and perhaps make monthly payments to a bondsman, his lawyers said.

But the judge said Christie must prove the bond fee is coming from legitimate sources. A hearing on the source of Christie's money is set for next Monday.

Gutierrez refused to reduce Christie's bail to $250,000 despite arguments that the national Hells Angels spokesman is a law-abiding Main Street businessman and strong family man who never sold drugs, poses no danger to the community and would not flee prosecution.

"He has family here. He grew up here," defense lawyer Anthony Brooklier said. "This case is not going to go to trial probably for a couple of years. . . . And it's going to be a stretch for [prosecutors] to include Mr. Christie in this conspiracy."

Brooklier argued that Christie never knew the young Air Force clinic clerk charged with stealing more than 700,000 Vicodin and Valium pills and funneling them through a Hells Angels associate to Ventura County adults and teenagers.

Nor did Christie ever talk to the Angels' associate, Rogelio Botello, about drugs. Prosecutors have evidence indicating that Botello asked Airman Joshua Adams to keep their relationship secret from Christie, Brooklier said.

Even if the indictment were true, Brooklier added, the last crime occurred nearly two years ago, in May 1999. "This is not a case where the crimes are going on at this point," he said.

But prosecutors argued that Christie not only sold drugs through a group of youths called "The Outfit," but is also guilty of theft, fraud, tax evasion and firearms possession. Altogether, he is charged with 23 criminal counts.

Nine Hells Angels are among 28 defendants charged in 132 criminal counts.

Lead prosecutor Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Jeff Bennett said in an interview that he is prepared to challenge the source of Christie's bail fee.

Brooklier said he's confident Christie will make bail.

"We're going to satisfy the $1-million bond," he said.

Brooklier filed 50 pages of documents stating that the veteran biker is a lifelong Ventura County resident responsible for quelling problems with local Angels, not inciting them.

On the night of their arrest last month at the Hells Angels' fortified Ventura clubhouse, Christie arranged for club members to surrender peacefully one by one, instead of trying to escape or fighting, attorneys wrote.

Christie also offered as evidence of his good character written testimonials from 15 friends, family members and local business owners--a chiropractor, restaurant owners and shopkeepers located near Christie's tattoo and body-piercing parlor in downtown Ventura.

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