In 1967, Alta Loma landlord finds the Hell’s Angels tough to evict

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How would you like to be in the shoes of landlord W.H. LaBand of West Covina when he decided to evict residents of his Alta Loma ranch in 1967?

The tenants’ lease was up on April 1, 1967, but even before that LaBand wanted them out. The touchy part was getting them to leave — no easy task because the place was the headquarters for the “Berdoo” chapter of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang.

The property, the Gray Ranch, was an 80-acre former citrus orchard with an old two-story house at the base of the mountains, west of Haven Avenue and not far from the new campus of Chaffey College. At this time, the spread of tract homes had not yet reached that undeveloped area of today’s Rancho Cucamonga.

“LaBand originally rented the property through the realty office to what he thought was a family, but soon discovered this was not the case,” wrote the San Bernardino Sun-Telegram on April 1. Sure, the rent was paid on time, but police were regular visitors, called to the place when wild weekend parties were held.

LaBand had one notice of eviction served on the gang which, not surprisingly, “was not enforced,” noted the Sun-Telegram.

Earlier, in February, the odds of getting them off his property looked better when the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department raided the Hell’s Angels hangout and arrested 21 people.

The early morning raid, on Feb. 18, 1967, apprehended 13 men and eight women, and found marijuana, 21 firearms, several switchblade knives and a large quantity of ammunition. The Angels jailed were from San Bernardino, Highland, Reseda, Pomona, Los Angeles and several places in Northern California. Four children also were sent to juvenile hall.

Based on today’s police rules for stopping and arresting suspects, it’s hard to imagine the justification for the raid. Two days before, a deputy arrested Hell’s Angels member Charles “Crazy Chuck” Forsyth and “found with what was thought to be marijuana” on his clothing, noted the Sun-Telegram on March 7.

With no more evidence than that, officers determined they had “probable cause to suspect more was at the Gray Ranch” and a search warrant was obtained from Ontario Municipal Court Judge Richard C. Garner.

Twenty-seven men were assembled for the raid, but they only found everyone asleep. The only trouble they had in rounding them up was Angels member David Friedli who had to be restrained by officers after he attacked a Sun-Telegram photographer, the paper reported.

Seventeen of those charged with marijuana possession arrived in Ontario court March 15, many dressed in their Levi jackets with “Hell’s Angels” patches on the back.

Their attorney attempted to void the whole episode, saying there was no justification for the search warrant, but that ploy failed. Four of the leaders of the motorcycle club later received permission for a change of venue to Orange County, due to the publicity the raid had gotten. It would be the first week of February, nearly one year after the raid, that convictions for the Angels were handed down in Santa Ana.

And LaBand never had to confront the Hell’s Angels about leaving.

To his relief, after their lease was up, the ranch house in Alta Loma was abandoned. Not surprisingly, the motorcycle club “left it a monument to vandalism,” said the Sun-Telegram on April 27.

“LaBand said he plans to destroy all the buildings on the property, but the outlaw gang got that project off to a good start by reducing the interior of two buildings to shambles,” wrote the Sun-Telegram.

Members of the Hell’s Angels Berdoo chapter. (Courtesy photo)

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