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Hells Angels Leader Leaves Jail on Bail

Hearing: Judge allows drug suspect George Christie to use $2 million in real estate to go free.

January 10, 2002|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

After nearly a year in custody, Hells Angels leader George Christie Jr. left Ventura County Jail on Wednesday after a judge ruled that he could use $2 million worth of real estate to post bail.

Christie, who will be under house arrest until his drug and racketeering trial, walked out before noon and was greeted by his girlfriend, Nikki Nicoletti.

"I feel great," the 54-year-old biker said outside the jail. "I feel like a million dollars."

Indeed, $1 million was the bail set after Christie's February arrest on suspicion of running a ring that peddled prescription drugs to high school students in Ojai and Ventura. He is charged with fraud, tax evasion, firearms possession, drug sales to minors and the use of a street gang in a criminal conspiracy.

Prosecutors also obtained indictments against his son, 25; his ex-wife; and two dozen Hells Angels members and associates. Several have already pleaded guilty to criminal charges.

Christie denies the allegations, and his attorneys have fought for his release from jail for months so he could help prepare for trial. They argued unsuccessfully for a bail reduction and took the issue before the appellate court, but were rejected.

Then they turned to his friends, five of whom--all with ties to the Hells Angels--offered equity in their homes and other real estate.

At recent hearings, prosecutors questioned the source of money behind those properties. But Superior Court Judge Barry Klopfer concluded that all were obtained legally, and he allowed the defense to use them for bail.

Christie was required to put up twice the amount of bail because he secured the bond with property instead of cash.

*

Times photographer Anne Cusack contributed to this report.

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