Hells Angel makes bail on NV casino assault charge

AP News
Posted: Oct 04, 2011 7:23 PM
Hells Angel makes bail on NV casino assault charge

The only member of the Hells Angels arrested in a fatal gun battle with a rival motorcycle gang at a Nevada casino was released from jail after his bail was reduced, his lawyers said Tuesday.

Police say defendant Cesar Villagrana, 36, of Gilroy, Calif., was with Jeffrey "Jethro" Pettigrew, leader of the Hells Angels chapter in San Jose, Calif., when a rival gang member shot Pettigrew to death on Sept. 23 in a casino in Sparks.

Villagrana, who faces assault with a deadly weapon and two other felony charges, was freed from Washoe County Jail late Monday after prosecutors agreed to cut his $500,000 cash-only bail requirement to $150,000.

Defense lawyer David Chesnoff declined to say where Villagrana was on Tuesday but confirmed he was free awaiting his appearance at an Oct. 12 preliminary hearing.

"We appreciate that the Washoe County district attorney's office professionally dealt with us when we discussed a reduced bond and it was agreed an appropriate bond in the matter would be $150,000," Chesnoff told The Associated Press.

Ernesto Manuel Gonzalez, the man accused of killing Pettigrew, remained jailed in San Francisco, pending extradition to Nevada.

Gonzalez, 53, a member of the rival Vagos motorcycle gang in San Jose, was taken into custody Thursday after a University of California, San Francisco officer spotted him in a parked car a block from campus police headquarters.

Two Vagos members were wounded in the casino shootout, and a third was shot in the stomach the next morning by a gunman in a passing car.

Villagrana was arrested the night of the casino shooting with a 9mm Smith and Wesson semi-automatic handgun that was reported stolen in Arizona in 1998, police said.

In addition to assault, Villagrana is charged with carrying a concealed weapon illegally and discharging a firearm into a structure.

Villagrana has not been charged with shooting anyone, but he can be seen on casino security video drawing the gun from his waistband and "actively firing into a crowd of uninvolved citizens, as well as rival motorcycle gang members," according to the formal criminal complaint filed by Deputy District Attorney Karl Hall.

Chesnoff said he hadn't seen the videotape but was confident prosecutors would provide a copy before the preliminary hearing.

"We look forward to reviewing it,'" he said.

Richard Schonfeld, defense co-counsel, previously told Sparks Justice Court Judge Susan Deriso that he didn't understand why the cash-only restriction had been added to the bail conditions, given that Villagrana came from a stable family and had no prior felony convictions.