SAN DIEGO - An aide to a former Chula Vista mayor wants a judge to throw out his 2007 conviction based on recent allegations that San Diego County District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis had a conflict of interest when she launched an investigation into the city council.
A judge will hear a motion Thursday in San Diego County Superior Court regarding whether a contempt of court conviction should be thrown out for Jason Moore, a former Chula Vista mayor's aide. In 2007, Moore, who worked for then-Mayor Steve Padilla, was charged with five counts of perjury following a San Diego District Attorney's Office investigation into the Chula Vista City Council.
At the time, according to KPBS, prosecutors contended that Moore had spied on Padilla's political opponent during work hours. They argued that after he later lied about whether he was off the clock when he spied while testifying before a grand jury in August 2006. Moore was indicted on perjury in March 2007. In June 2007, he agreed to plead guilty to a lesser misdemeanor count of contempt of court.
However, in a KPBS report last month, Padilla said that in 2005 he received a call from Dumanis lobbying him to support one of her aides, Jesse Navarro, in his run for an open Chula Vista City Council seat. Padilla allegedly told her that Navarro would not be a good fit.
Weeks later, Dumanis opened an investigation into the Chula Vista City Council over allegations that it collected pay from redevelopment corporation meetings that it did not attend.
Although no serious charges were filed, in 2006, Dumanis launched a probe into allegations that then-Councilman Castaneda had received special favors from a developer. He was later charged with multiple counts perjury, but was acquitted by a jury.
In his motion filed May 19, Moore's attorney Knut Johnson said that Moore's lawyers would not have advised Moore to take the plea deal if they had known about Dumanis' alleged behind-the-scenes political maneuvering.
"Counsel in this case would have counseled Mr. Moore to not plead guilty to the misdemeanor if he had known about the call and would have known about the call and would have moved to recuse the Office of the District Attorney," Johnson wrote.
The motion also requests that Dumanis release all internal documents that relate to the alleged phone call she had with Padilla. Dumanis has so far refused to make any such documents public or comment on the claims she meddled in the Chula Vista City Council.
"On its face, the DA's use of a grand jury to investigate whether Mr. Moore had asked for two hours of leave before or after he left work seems ridiculous, petty and a massive waste of government resources," Johnson wrote in the motion. "Now, with the knowledge that DA Dumanis had personal, professional, and political reasons to oppose Mayor Padilla (and support his opponents), the investigation of Mr. Moore appears corrupt, biased, and for the personal, professional, and political gain of DA Dumanis."
Steve Walker, communications director for the San Diego County District Attorney's Office, issued this statement Thursday afternoon:
"This motion amounts to a fishing expedition seven years after the fact and the court has no jurisdiction to hold a hearing on the matter at this time. The defendant pleaded guilty to lying to a grand jury and was held responsible for his crime. Following that plea, the Attorney General's Office was made aware of issues raised in this motion and found no reason to take any action or investigate."
Dumanis campaign spokesperson Jennifer Tierney also issued a statement Thursday:
"This is nothing more than a publicity stunt orchestrated by our opponent less than two weeks before Election Day. Shame on him for wasting the court's time and resources for political gain."