Ex-assistant DA is seeking to change plea in battery case

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Ex-assistant DA is seeking to change plea Posted on September 12, 2003 at 07:52:04 PM by Desert Dawg Ex-assistant DA is seeking to change plea in battery case By FELISA CARDONA Staff Writer SAN BERNARDINO A former top county prosecutor convicted of beating a woman at a San Bernardino restaurant says state prosecutors withheld evidence that could have exonerated him. Daniel C. Lough, former assistant district attorney, is asking a San Bernardino Superior Court judge to allow him to withdraw his no-contest plea to a charge of misdemeanor battery. The 54-year-old lawyer was accused of punching and pulling the hair of Tammy Wenszell, a 35-year-old investigator for the Public Defender’s Office, during a Sept. 19 altercation at the Castaway Restaurant in San Bernardino. Lough has also filed a motion for a dismissal of the criminal case and a motion to sanction Deputy Attorney General Scott Taylor and Senior Assistant Attorney General Gary Schons for withholding conflicting statements he says Wenszell gave about how she obtained her injuries. A hearing on the matter is set for Oct. 31. Several attempts to reach Lough for comment were unsuccessful Monday and Tuesday. Taylor did not return a Tuesday call for comment. Schons couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday. After he entered the no-contest plea, Lough was sentenced to three years of probation, ordered to pay a $1,500 fine and also had to complete a 52-week batterer’s program at a cost of $25 a week. Sixteen days after Lough entered his plea, he was fired from the District Attorney’s Office, where he had been assigned to the real estate fraud unit. Lough was demoted to that position in April 2001 from his post as assistant district attorney in connection with an incident involving the criminal investigation of 5th District county Supervisor Jerry Eaves. Upon his firing in the battery incident, Lough was provided with copies of the police reports and a personnel investigation that was done by Terry Andrus, a private attorney hired by the district attorney to conduct an investigation into the Castaway altercation. Lough says his and Wenszell’s jobs were threatened if they decided not to cooperate with Andrus and give a statement about the incident. In those reports, Wenszell gave conflicting statements to Andrus and a San Bernardino police detective about what happened to her that night and how she was injured, Lough said in his motion. If Lough had known of the conflicting statements, he says, he would never have pleaded no contest to the charges against him. He accuses Taylor and Schons of keeping the information from him before he entered his plea. Lough also says the two state prosecutors had run-ins with him in the past related to the Eaves investigation and should have never been assigned to handle the battery case. In court papers, Lough cites two separate and unrelated cases in which convictions were reversed on appeal because Schons did not provide proper discovery to defendants. ” Gary Schons and Scott Taylor violated their duties under settled United States and California law to provide Defendant with material evidence ” Lough wrote. “Whether that failure was intentional or negligent is irrelevant; its occurrence undermines the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system and creates an impression that our government officers are our worst enemies, not our public servants.” He also accuses District Attorney Michael A. Ramos of having wanted him fired and allowing his office to assist the Attorney General’s Office with his prosecution. “Ramos ran for election as (district attorney) in 2002. During the campaign he was reported to have said he would have fired (Lough) in 2001 (over the Eaves matter). In January 2003, Ramos was sworn into office.” When contacted Tuesday, Ramos declined to comment about Lough. “He is no longer working for the District Attorney’s Office and I have no further comment because it is a personnel matter,” Ramos said. Deputy District Attorney David Whitney, a person Lough had a “riff” with, was asked by Taylor to provide information to San Bernardino police about the details of Lough’s relationship with Wenszell, Lough said in his motion. Whitney said he cooperated with the investigation only because he was a potential witness in the case. Wenszell called him after the incident to tell him what happened, Whitney said, and he had prior knowledge of her relationship with Lough. The actions of the state attorney general and San Bernardino County district attorney denied him material, “impeaching and exonerating evidence,” Lough wrote in his motion. “As a result, Defendant was denied due process of law and the right to an informed competent attorney at the time of his plea and conviction.” Source: http://www.redlandsdailyfacts.com/Stories/0,1413,209~22484~1623259,00.html http://b4.boards2go.com/boards/board.cgi?action=read&id=1063414324&user=SoCA

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