The Star-News


Motion withdrawn, D.A. stays

Fri, Jul 13 2012 05:42 PM Posted By: Allison K. Sampité

A defense attorney in the Sweetwater Union High School District corruption case this morning withdrew his motion to recuse the District Attorney from prosecution.

The withdrawal came after Superior Court judge Michael T. Smyth denied Allen Bloom’s request for more time to investigate whether District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis politicized the case in a mayoral commercial she ran earlier this year.

Bloom argued that Dumanis engaged in the “selective prosecution” of his client, Arlie Ricasa-Bagaporo and three other defendants.

In a subpoena he served Dumanis with two weeks ago, Bloom requested information surrounding the cost of ad production.

“It was clearly something that was thought about beforehand,” Bloom said. “The court can’t evaluate how politically-tainted this case is without this information.”

Smyth said a response to the subpoena indicated the cost of running the ad as well as the demographic of those who saw it. He called the need for further investigation “of marginal relevance.”

“I don’t see what production cost has to do with anything,” Smyth said. “It sounds like you’re speculating.”

District Attorney Gary Schons said that further time to investigate allegations of conflict should have been done earlier and argued there was no justification for a continuance.

Quinones’ attorney Marc Carlos supported the recusal and further investigation.
 
“My client has been the subject of intense scrutiny because of the ads,” Carlos told the judge. “…We’re not in the habit of filing frivolous motions.”

According to Bloom, campaign records show that Dumanis spent approximately $180,000 publicizing her tough stance on prosecuting corruption cases. He also estimated that some 500,000 people were exposed to the ad, affecting a large percentage of the voter population as well as potential jurors.

“The willingness of Ms. Dumanis to violate state bar rules is a strong indicator that she has a political motive,” Bloom said.

In January, Dumanis indicted Ricasa-Bagaporo, current district board president Pearl Quinones, former superintendent Jesus Gandara and former board member Greg Sandoval on multiple felony and misdemeanor charges of corruption. The school officials are accused of creating a “pay-for-play” atmosphere at the South Bay school district for accepting lavish gifts from contractors while working with the district.

During a May 11 hearing, all four defense attorneys made statements to Smyth, saying the commercial affected their clients’ right to a fair trial.

Bloom said he would continue to investigate.

“It’s not just the boss,” Bloom said in court. “It’s the boss of the whole office that’s done this. “…If there is nothing to hide, transparency is the best answer.”


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