Malicious prosecution by DA alleged
Menifee resident Alfredo Rubio has filed an $11 million claim with Riverside County alleging malicious prosecution by the DA's office. Prosecutors in the office of Grover C. Trask II had alleged that Rubio falsely told customers of the firm he worked for, Air Supply Heating and Air Conditioning, that their heaters and air conditioners were unsafe. Having heard and considered evidence presented by DDA Vicki Hightower during a nine-week long trial that concluded in May, a jury acquitted Rubio of the 15 felony and misdemeanor charges that had been filed against him. Although the same jury convicted Rubio's boss, Mark Peterson, of three misdemeanors, that wasn't good enough for the DA. Disregarding comments mady by jurors that Air Supply's conduct may have been unethical, or even immoral, the DA has refiled charges against Peterson, president of now-defunct Air Supply Heating and Air Conditioning. He now faces a November trial date for five felony charges stemming from the same case, all because the first jury wouldn't convict on seven felony counts at the earlier trial. If Rubio's claim is rejected by the county and proceeds to trial, what reasonable inference may a jury draw from the DA not getting it from the outcome of the first trial and comments made by its jurors? What looks like an attitude of "if we can't get you legally, we'll get you anyway we can" in regard to Peterson, could very well serve to substantiate Rubio's allegations of malicious prosecution. And expose county taxpayer's to significant financial liability.
Similarly, an allegation of "vindictive prosecution" has been raised by the remaining Coachella Valley pyramid scheme defendant. Marianna Dorson was one of nine persons indicted by the Riverside County Grand Jury on felony charges in the 1996 pyramid scheme. Although this scam involved over 1000 people, only former College of the Desert president Dr. David George; Matt Monica; Maryann Monica; former Desert Sands Unified School District chief Dolores Ballesteros; Vickie Brown; Diana Hodgkins; Kathleen Rector; Nancy Dolensek and Dorson were charged. Representations had been made to Dorson by the DA's office that caused her to believe that her cooperation was in exchange for charges not being filed. The other defendants were given "no-time, no-fine" plea bargains. Their charges were also reduced to misdemeanors. Through her attorney, Dorson says that "If they promise not to prosecute, absent fraud on behalf of the defendant, they should not prosecute.'' "And when a person relies on the promise not to prosecute, they should not be sucker-punched almost four years later and be expected to defend themselves.'' So much for cooperating with prosecutors.