The Westminster Police Department officer arrested by the FBI in August with a Little Saigon businessman for allegedly running a loan-sharking operation has dumped his Newport Beach defense lawyer for a Hollywood celebrity attorney who once worked as a federal prosecutor.
According to court records, Anthony Duong Donner booted court-appointed John W. Barton to retain Donald Etra, who has represented rapper Snoop Dogg, singer Rihanna (against slugger Chris Brown) and actress Fran Drescher.
In two separate criminal actions (drug and weapon counts) against Snoop Dogg in Orange County, Etra--who is a President George W. Bush appointee to the board of the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.--claims he won reductions in charges.
Federal prosecutor Brett A. Sagel's U.S. Department of Justice investigation resulted in the arrest of Donner for using his job as a police officer to enforce the illegal loan-sharking operations of Kevin Khanh Tuan Do, who, according to the government, charged more than 60 percent annual interest.
Both men pleaded not guilty and are free on bail.
With the aid of wiretaps, FBI agents claim they recorded Do, owner of Do Construction & Design Inc. in Garden Grove, and a campaign contributor to Republican Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen, using on- and off-duty law-enforcement officers, including Golden West College graduate Donner, as the muscle in the alleged loan sharking business.
U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter, the presiding judge in the case, has scheduled the trial for July 15 inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse.
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In December, Donner asked Carter for permission to travel to New Orleans to be a groomsman in a friend's wedding, but the judge denied the request.