Can you imagine a $2,500 bribe being worth 20 years of your life in a federal prison?
Or, in the case of Mission Viejo attorney Lawrence Anthony Witsoe, who is accused of paying that bribe to the Rialto cop now looking at 20, the relatively small change could fetch a 35-year stretch in the pen.
Agents from the FBI this morning took Witsoe and Officer Aaron Scott Vigil, 41, of Highland, into custody after they were named in a three-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on June 1.
Witsoe was representating a client facing an assault charge in Orange County Superior Court in the fall of 2009. According to the feds, he offered Vigil, who was serving on a Drug Enforcement
Administration (DEA) task force, $1,000–later upped to $2,500–to tell Orange County District Attorney (OCDA) prosecutors that the lawyer's client was a DEA informant.
Vigil is alleged to have contacted the OCDA several times and falsely reported Witsoe's client had provided valuable information regarding drug traffickers, including tips that led to a DEA seizure of $110,000 in drug money.
The OCDA dismissed the case. Witsoe is accused of then directing his client to wire $2,500 to a trust account, from which the lawyer wrote a check to the ex-wife of one of Vigil's associates, according to the FBI.
The indictment charges both men with conspiracy and
soliciting and accepting a bribe by a public official. Witsoe alone is
charged with bribery of a public official. The U.S. Attorney's office statement on the arrests claims the OCDA cooperated fully with the FBI investigation.