George Christie was sentenced yesterday to serve a year in federal prison.
Christie was the long time president of the Ventura, California Hells Angels charter. He was indicted for conspiring to firebomb two tattoo shop competitors out of business on July 29, 2011. The two shops, named “Scratch the Surface” and “Twisted Ink” were firebombed in July 2007. As his case lingered, Christie was forced to sell his shop.
Christie’s prosecution was unusually perverse even by the standards of federal justice. Christie was not indicted until months after he retired from his motorcycle club. The evidence against him comprised statements made by the men who actually set the fires. Those men were entrapped and then offered leniency if they helped the FBI get Christie.
The case went to trial last January. Christie faced two charges that carried minimum sentences of 30 years each and another charge that carried a mandatory sentence of life. Much of Christie’s defense would have examined the means and methods used to entrap and bully members of motorcycle clubs. Both former Mongol Al Cavazos and former Bandido President George Wegers were prepared to testify on Christie’s behalf. The judge in the case, George H. Wu, practically begged the adversaries to reach a plea deal. A handshake deal was agreed to on February 1. Since then, virtually every document filed in the case has been sealed including all the motions to seal.
There has been no public notice of Christie’s sentencing. There was no public notice that Christie was about to be sentenced. Assistant United States Attorneys Jay Robinson and Carol Chen are apparently so ashamed of their case that they have taken extraordinary steps to hide the Chrstie matter from public scrutiny. For example, Christie, his attorney Michael Mayock, and friends and relatives of Christie were all instructed by the court not to talk to The Aging Rebel. The prosecutors were also livid about Christie’s appearance in a documentary film that went into production before Christie was indicted and continued in production after Christie’s informal plea deal was negotiated.
After he retired from the Hells Angels and before he was indicted, Christie agreed to appear in a film by the British documentarian Nick Mead. The film was originally conceived as an homage to Easy Rider and would simply follow Christie around the country and record conversations he had about the state of freedom in America. The first of those conversation was with Michael Blake who wrote both the screenplay for Dances With Wolves and the novel on which the film was based.
Christie was indicted shortly after that interview. Mead continued to film and the movie became a record of Christie’s life as the United States Department of Justice tried to crush him. The title of the documentary is The Last American Outlaw. The film includes interviews with Al Cavazos, Wegers and several well informed attorneys about federal racketeering cases brought against motorcycle club members. The author of this page also appears in the film and wrote most of the narration.
Art And Justice
Prosecutors literally tried to blackmail Mead and Christie into locking the film in a box and throwing away the key. Mead cancelled a June screening of the film for potential distributors after prosecutors threatened that they would “make sure Christie gets prison time” if the film “was shown.” Neither Robinson nor Chen has seen the film so their objections obviously say far more about them and their own shame than any opinions Christie or Mead might voice in a thousand films.
Prosecutors spent much of yesterday’s sentencing hearing complaining about the film they have not seen. Prosecutors alleged that it evolved out of the FBI’s pursuit of Christie. Christie explained that the film had started off as something completely unrelated to the state of American justice and its narrative had simply followed a road the FBI and prosecutors made.
Robinson insisted that Judge Wu sentence the 65-year-old Christie to three years in prison.
Obviously even prosecutors understand that federal justice is a lot like sausage. They are afraid people won’t buy it anymore if they get a glimpse of how it’s made.