Dunlap sues over arrest – Lompoc Record

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Dunlap sues over arrest By Mark Abramson — Staff Writer Dec 5 2003 12/5/03 Solvang attorney Gary Dunlap, who described his arrest and prosecution last summer as an emotional drain on his family and a financial fiasco for his practice, has filed a $10 million federal lawsuit against Santa Barbara County District Attorney Tom Sneddon. Dunlap was acquitted in June of six charges, including perjury, witness intimidation, filing false documents and preparing false documents stemming from a case against one of Dunlap’s clients. If convicted, Dunlap could have served up to 12 years in prison. A 102-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles last month alleges that Sneddon and his office violated Dunlap’s civil rights. The complaint seeks $10 million for compensatory and special damages and asks for punitive damages and attorney’s fees. Dunlap and his attorneys, Burbank-based Joe Freeman & Associates, have requested a jury trial to resolve the suit. The district attorney’s office conspired against Dunlap, maliciously prosecuted him, and is guilty of racketeering and witness tampering, according to the complaint. It also accuses Sneddon and his office of conducting illegal searches of Dunlap’s property, violating his civil rights and defaming him. “In fact, it is difficult, if not impossible, to discern any ethical standards on the part of the defendants; they appear to have been intellectually destitute and morally bereft during the entire sequence of events giving rise to this complaint,” according to Dunlap’s complaint. Sneddon, who is preparing to file child molestation charges against pop icon Michael Jackson, said he could not comment on the Dunlap suit. He said all the defendants have been advised to withhold comment. Jake Stoddard, the county attorney handling the case, said he has not read the complaint. The lawsuit also names Assistant District Attorney Christie Schultz-Stanley; Deputy District Attorneys Jerry McBeth, Kevin Duffy, Gerald Franklin, John McKinnon and Josh Webb; and district attorney investigators Tim Rooney and Mary Brizzola. “I think they did it because I have a history of being a very aggressive litigator,” Dunlap said. “I’ve always been a big critic of the district attorney’s office. They tried to get me disbarred before I was even convicted.” After his acquittal in June, Dunlap filed a $10 million claim against members of the district attorney’s office and the county. The claim was denied by the Board of Supervisors. Dunlap had represented Agustin Salas Jr., who was arrested in June 2002. Salas’s mother, Barbara Buontello, was recruited by the FBI to help investigate Dunlap. Buontello wore a recording device during a discussion of her son’s case, trying to engage Dunlap in an extended conversation, according to court documents. The aim was to record Dunlap’s alleged willingness to commit perjury. “Every time I interview a client, I have to wonder whether or not they are wired,” Dunlap said. “Economically, yes, I’ve suffered and I continue to suffer, but the major loss is the pressure I felt and the emotional aspect of what this did to my family. “It went on for a year, and that was pretty disconcerting. When your life is in the hands of 12 strangers (the jurors), that is a frightening thing.” Staff writer Mark Abramson can be reached at 736-2313, Ext. 126, or by e-mail at mabramson@lompocrecord.com. :nav Source: http://www.lompocrecord.com/articles/2003/12/05/news/news15.txt

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