A convicted Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officer lost his request last week for a new trial following a bribery scam and today a federal judge in Santa Ana sentenced the now disgraced, ex-undercover, narcotics cop to 33 months in prison.
In a 2009 conspiracy with Mission Viejo criminal defense lawyer Lawrence Anthony Witsoe, agent Aaron Scott Vigil, assigned to the DEA from the Rialto Police Department, repeatedly lied to Orange County District Attorney's Office prosecutors that a Witsoe client was a secret, government narcotics informant in hopes of winning the defendant favorable treatment.
Witsoe told Wayne Gillis, his Phoenix-based client who faced charges from an alleged John Wayne Airport assault on a insufferable car rental manager, that unseen magic dust would be sprinkled over his case if he paid an extra $2,500 in fees, according to surreptitious FBI recordings.
Gillis, a successful businessman, was not an informant.
Alarmed about the bribery proposal, Gillis contacted law enforcement, paid the extra fee and agreed to work at the direction of the FBI by recording telephone calls and wearing a body wire.
Michael Schwartz and Ken Julian–seasoned, private lawyers for Vigil and Witsoe–strenuously fought the charges, but a May jury unanimously determined that federal prosecutors Robert J. Keenan and Jennifer L. Waier presented a righteous case of guilt.
In an opinion issued last week, U.S. District Court Judge Andrew J. Guilford rejected claims by Vigil and Witsoe that Keenan and Waier robbed them of a fair trial with the assistance of FBI Special Agent Jessie T. Murray.
“The interest of justice does not require a new trial in this case,” Guilford wrote.
Witsoe, who was found guilty of more charges than Vigil even though he didn't directly profit from the bribery transaction, is scheduled to be sentenced inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in December.
FBI recordings indicate the veteran lawyer, speaking without knowing he was being taped, believed his deal with Vigil wasn't the first time a federal agent had tainted the justice system in OC in exchange for a bribe.