Report Raises Suspicions About Grand Jury Target-Tied Contribution To District Attorney
Potential police lineup: What is Mayor Miguel Pulido in the middle of now?
Embattled in a scandalous civil dispute in 2008, wealthy, Republican, socialite Dick Marconi wanted Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, a fellow Republican, to enter the battle on his side by converting the matter into a criminal case against his opposition.
Marconi and his wife Priscilla contributed $3,200, then-the maximum campaign contribution, to Rackauckas on June 4, 2008, and seven days later government agents swung into action in the year-old dispute that had previously involved negotiating lawyers.
Working behind the scenes with Rackauckas' staff, Newport Beach police detectives arrested Irvine-based civil attorney Jim Toledano, former chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party, and his client, then-fitness trainer Michael Roberts, on extortion charges.
The move effectively gave the GOP power couple a victory in the dispute and left a shocked Toledano and Roberts facing felony counts--charges so weak and suspicious prosecutors have worked to delay a trial even to this day, more than four years later.
At the heart of the DA's case is the laughably absurd assertion made by prosecutor Rebecca Olivieri to fooled grand jurors: civil lawyers never seek to resolve disputes by requesting monetary damages for their clients prior to the filing of lawsuits.
Now comes Adam Elmahrek's Sept. 16 Voice of OC article revealing that one of Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido's closest pals sent money to the DA this year while prosecutors ponder indicting Pulido on corruption charges.
"The $1,900 contribution on Jan. 22 was the first time in nearly 10 years that [Dennis] DeSnoo has given to any candidate for countywide office and the first time ever for DA, according to Shirley Grindle, the county's campaign finance watchdog," Elmahrek wrote.
Elmahrek calculated that the DA has taken $5,000 so far this year from Pulido allies, though assigning motive gets tricky because several contributors have multiple interests with Rackauckas' office.
Susan Kang Schroeder, Rackauckas' chief of staff, said there is no correlation between campaign contributions to the DA and DA office actions.
"I have never heard of [DeSnoo] and no one who is working on the case has any idea who he is," said Schroeder. "The Voice article was a farce."
Rackauckas and Schroeder
OC Weekly photo
But the best part of the article is Elmahrek's accompanying photograph of the DA and Pulido, who has been in office for 28 years, sitting together at a June event in Santa Ana.
Go HERE to see Pulido's pricelessly awkward facial expression.
Contribution considerations aside: After contemplating that photo, what do you say are the odds Rackauckas won't indict the mayor?
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts