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Ventura County

Judge Refuses to Set Trial Date for Hells Angels

Hearing: Drug case won't begin until lawyers agree they've had time to prepare.

January 26, 2002|STEVE CHAWKINS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Attorneys for several defendants in the massive Hells Angels drug and racketeering case lost their bid Friday to receive a trial date in March 2003.

Judge Bruce Clark said it would be "premature" to set a trial date until lawyers for all nine defendants at Friday's hearing felt they had adequate time to prepare. The defendants are jointly charged and prosecutors plan to try them together.

The decision disappointed attorney Scott Spindel, who said he could be ready for trial in 14 months. Spindel said lawyers must pore over an extraordinary volume of material, including 120,000 pages of court documents, 13,000 pages of grand jury transcripts and about 200 videotapes.

Spindel represents Kenneth Collins, who is facing a variety of charges stemming from alleged drug sales.

Outside the courtroom, defendant George Christie Jr., leader of the Hells Angels in Ventura, declined to comment on the case. After being jailed for 11 months, he was released on $1-million bail earlier this month but must remain at his home except for court appearances.

Christie said he plans to ask for permission to visit his terminally ill mother.

"She's had to get out of her deathbed to visit me," said Christie, 54, who must wear an electronic monitoring bracelet at all times.

Another hearing on a trial date was set for May 2.

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