Audra M. Marino Gets a Killer Fee

[Moxley Confidential] The odd case of the accountant who made a killing in the Sandra Jessee murder trial

According to Derby, I am making "an assumption" that Marino's $35,000 fee was just for work on the two Jessee trials. But my "assumption" isn't an assumption; it is based on Marino's unambiguous testimony. The prosecutor asked this witness multiple times if the fee applied just to this case, and she answered affirmatively.

To clear up any possible confusion, I asked Derby to reveal details of Marino's bills, her hourly rate and the terms of her contract. She declined. "The payment records are privileged," Derby said.

Translation: In her view, the public doesn't have a right to inspect these government-spending records.

Box Brown


I have no evidence that Derby is anything but an honest public servant. However, in a county with continual spending debacles, her anti-disclosure stance fuels suspicions of mismanagement or worse. Given the sensational size of the fee—an entire annual salary for some county workers—the public deserves to know the now-mysterious facts.

What's clear at this point is that, at least in the Jessee murder, you can make substantially more from a homicide as an accountant holding a calculator than an assassin armed with a blood-drenched hunting knife.

Note: This column was written as the lawyers made their closing arguments in the trial. For up-to-date coverage, visit our Navel Gazing blog.


This column ran in print as "Killer Fee: The odd case of an accountant who made a killing in an OC murder trial."

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As a CPA with 25 years of experience, I have a couple of thoughts on your article:-If Audra stated or implied in any way that she was a certified public accountant, please report her to the California Board of Accountancy ( Their online license lookup shows her license as delinquent, having expired 9/30/10 ( -I'm puzzled how the public defender can claim her contract and billing are privileged when she was a testifying expert. I have testified as an accounting expert, and all of my bills and time records were discoverable (if she was a non-testifying consultant, I could see their claim).


"Eventually, she admitted that even though she was testifying as an expert on Jessee's spending, she hadn't bothered to double-check the defendant's checkbook assertions with available bank records."

I have worked in accounting. I scrutinized expense reports more than Marino did with this creep's checking account and register. I hope she is not a CPA, but I have a feeling she is.

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