Three motorcycle gang members released from jail Tuesday after mistakenly being given reduced charges, resulting in lower bond amounts, made arrangements later in the day to turn themselves in to authorities.
The three were allowed to bond out of jail Tuesday after they were booked on lesser offenses than the first-degree felony “engaging in organized criminal activity” on which about 170 bikers have been arrested after the Twin Peaks shooting. The other bikers’ bonds were set at $1 million each.
Juan Garcia, Drew King and James Harris, all of whom are from Austin, were charged with state-jail felony engaging in organized criminal activity charges, instead of the first-degree charge. As a result, their bonds were set as low as $20,000 and $50,000. They posted those amounts and were released.
After word surfaced that the men had bonded out, state district judges Matt Johnson and Ralph Strother huddled with Jail Magistrate Virgil Bain and McLennan County Sheriff’s Capt. John Kolinek to determine what happened.
Strother said he has learned that seven of the initial arrestees were booked on the lesser charge. Strother found the bonds to be insufficient and issued arrest warrants for the men. Charges on the other four, who remained jailed, have been upgraded and their bonds reset at $1 million.
Garcia and Harris contacted a lawyer in Austin, who told them to turn themselves in to the federal courthouse in Austin. Waco bail bondsman Charlie Pickens, who originally bonded the three out of the McLennan County Jail, said Garcia and Harris were afraid to drive back to Waco because they feared being stopped by law enforcement.
Police officials confirmed early Tuesday evening that the men had turned themselves in and were in custody.
Waco police also confirmed Tuesday night that King had turned himself in to authorities in Austin.
Pickens did not know if the three will be brought back to Waco or if they will see a magistrate in Travis County and then be jailed there on the new bonds.
The Austin American-Statesman reported Tuesday that Garcia, 45, is an engineer with the city of Austin’s public works department.using the procedure in the Twin Peaks case. He said state law gives authorities only 30 days to hold a vehicle before a civil forfeiture case is filed. The civil lawsuits would have to definitely tie the property to the commission of a crime, and those cases take time to build, Schwieger said.
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