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Former Chula Vista Aide Seeks To Undo Plea Deal Over Dumanis Call

Former Chula Vista Mayor states in a sworn declaration that District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis asked him in phone call to appoint her aide to a vacant City Council seat.

An aide to former Chula Vista Mayor Steve Padilla wants a court to set aside his misdemeanor guilty plea he said he wouldn’t have made if he’d known about a call District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis reportedly made to his boss back in 2005.

The District Attorney’s Office charged Jason Moore with five counts of felony perjury in 2006. Moore was found snooping at an event for his boss’s political opponent during work hours. Moore was accused of lying to a grand jury about when he turned in a slip at work to take the time off. Testimony by another witness before the grand jury was that Moore was not required to submit a slip, according to court papers.

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Moore later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. Now he wants that conviction overturned.

Moore's lawyer, Knut Johnson, said he would have advised against that guilty plea if he had known that District Attorney Dumanis had called Moore’s boss, Padilla, months earlier.

In a sworn declaration, Padilla said Dumanis asked him to appoint her aide Jesse Navarro to a vacant city council position. Padilla said he turned her down. Within weeks of the refusal, Dumanis opened investigations into Chula Vista city officials.

Johnson says the call was “a critical piece of information” because an impartial prosecutor is an essential feature of Moore’s right to a fair trial.

“Prosecution by someone with conflicting loyalties calls into question the objectivity of those charged with bringing a defendant to judgment,” Johnson wrote in court papers. “It is a fundamental premise of our society that the state wield its formidable law enforcement powers in a rigorously disinterested fashion.”

The DA's office said it could not comment on the case because it's pending litigation.


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Amita Sharma
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an investigative reporter for KPBS, I've helped expose political scandals and dug into intractable issues like sex trafficking. I've raised tough questions about how government treats foster kids. I've spotlighted the problem of pollution in poor neighborhoods. And I've chronicled corporate mistakes and how the public sometimes ends up paying for them.

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