Lawyers for the former wife of Hells Angels leader George Christie Jr. argued Thursday that $500,000 bail for the 54-year-old Ventura woman is excessive, because she has never committed a crime and is guilty of nothing worse than marrying the boss of a motorcycle gang.
"At best, [Cheryl] Christie is a peripheral member, perhaps, of this wide-ranging criminal conspiracy," lawyer Kay Duffy told a state appeals panel. "She is not a flight risk. She is not a threat to public safety. She was never connected with any activity of selling drugs to anyone."
Cheryl Christie was indicted in February on 19 criminal counts in a broad drug-and-racketeering case that charges her husband with running a gang that stole drugs from an Air Force base and sold them to high school students in Ventura and Ojai. They both have been in custody since. His bail is $1 million.
Duffy, arguing before the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Ventura, said that Cheryl Christie's bail is five times the recommended bond for her alleged offenses and asked the justices to cut it to $100,000. The panel took the matter under review.
In a rare move, the appeals court had agreed to hear Cheryl Christie's appeal. On Thursday, Presiding Justice Arthur Gilbert seemed inclined to grant a bail reduction.
Gilbert pointedly asked prosecutors why they considered the longtime Hells Angels bookkeeper a risk, whether they think she would sell drugs to students if freed and why they think she would flee prosecution since she surrendered in February.
Prosecutor Michelle Contois said the bail is so high because the case is so serious--about 750,000 tabs of Valium and Vicodin were allegedly sold by the gang and its teenage assistants.
"There really is nothing about this case that is average or normal," Contois said.
There is no evidence that Cheryl Christie ever sold drugs, the prosecutor acknowledged. But tens of thousands of pills were found in her condo, along with $106,000 in cash.
Contois also said that releasing the defendant would endanger witnesses, because Cheryl Christie had been in charge of "information on all the members of the gang."
Gilbert was unconvinced. "Another member of the gang could do it anyway," he said of potential threats.
Without naming the case, Gilbert referred to a December decision by the same justices to lower the $10-million bail of accused date-rapist and Max Factor heir Andrew Luster to $1 million. Superior Court Judge Arturo Gutierrez set both the Luster and Christie bails.