Former Hells Angel denies $500,000 payment was key to becoming police agent

A former Hells Angel denied a suggestion Wednesday by a lawyer for the notorious motorcycle club that he was motivated financially to turn on the club and become a police agent. David Atwell, who confirmed that he was paid $500,000 to become an agent and target the Hells Angels, made the comment while he was being cross-examined in court at the trial at which the B.C. government is seeking to forfeit three Hells Angels’ clubhouses.

Joseph Arvay, a lawyer for the club, suggested to Atwell that the main reason he became an agent was the money that he would receive. Atwell, a member of the Toronto chapter of the Hells Angels from about 2000 to 2007, conceded that there were financial benefits but insisted that when he signed a contract with police to become an agent, he didn’t know the amount of money that was involved.
“And are you suggesting to this court the promise or potential of making that amount of money was not a very significant factor in your decision to become an agent?” asked Arvay.
“I was surprised at that amount, but I had already agreed to sign on. That figure was not instrumental,” said Atwell, adding that the figure was “too good to be true.”

Atwell, who signed a deal to be paid $75,000 by the provincial director of civil forfeiture in exchange for testifying about his time with the club, said that he wanted to know what dangers were involved in being a police agent and something about the “job description” of being an agent.
“But there wasn’t really any talk about specific dollar figures until I signed the contract.”

Earlier, Arvay questioned Atwell about a book — The Hard Way Out: My Life with the Hells Angels and Why I Turned Against Them” — that identifies Atwell as the author along with Jerry Langton.

Atwell said that while he didn’t take any issue with the first-person account, it was Langton who was the actual writer of the book and that he himself had never read the book.

Asked by Arvay as to why he hadn’t read the book, he said it was because it was about a part of his life that he wanted to leave in the past.
“You weren’t ever curious?” said Arvay.
“Not in the least,” said Atwell.

The former Hells Angel said that he and Langton agreed to split the proceeds from the book, including $25,000 for signing a book contract and an additional $18,000 in payments.

Atwell said they hadn’t yet gotten any royalties from the book.
On Wednesday, Atwell also testified that as an agent he had participated in drug and gun purchases with a number of Hells Angels who were later convicted of those offences. The government is seeking to forfeit the Nanaimo, East End and Kelowna clubhouses of the Hells Angels. The director claims that the clubhouses should be seized because they would likely be used to commit crimes if the club is allowed to maintain control of them.

Atwell is expected to continue his cross-examination Thursday.

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