Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Judge Challenges Argument That He Withdraw From Pension Fraud Case

A federal judge challenged prosecutors today about why they think he should step down from the San Diego city pension fraud case. KPBS reporter Amita Sharma has more.

Judge Challenges Argument That He Withdraw From Pension Fraud Case

A federal judge challenged prosecutors today about why they think he should step down from the San Diego city pension fraud case. KPBS reporter Amita Sharma has more.

Prosecutor John Owens told Judge Roger Benitez he took no joy asking him to withdraw from the case. But he said he had no choice. Benitez violated the political reform act in 1994 when he failed to report campaign expenses while running for superior court judge in 1994.

Owens argued that since the government's case against five former San Diego city pension officials will involve state disclosure rules like the political reform act, a reasonable person could question Benitez's impartiality.

Benitez shot back and said with that logic if a judge had once worked for the U.S. Attorney's office and still had friends there, couldn't a reasonable person assume the judge would be biased in favor of prosecutors?

Benitez said he admitted to the violations and paid his fines.

The judge didn't say when he would release his ruling on whether to withdraw.

Explore all national, state and local returns now.