Bustamante Lawyer Accuses DA of ‘Egregious’ Conduct

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The attorney for Carlos Bustamante, the Santa Ana city councilman accused of multiple sex crimes against women who worked for him at Orange County Public Works, is asking the courts to dismiss all charges, accusing District Attorney Tony Rackauckas of “egregious” conduct that will prevent a fair trial.

Newport Beach attorney James D. Riddet filed papers July 16 in Superior Court, arguing Rackauckas permanently tainted the case with a series of “inflammatory” comments at a news conference and on a Los Angeles talk radio station in the days after Bustamante’s arrest July 2.

In addition, he said that a video of Bustamante’s arrest as he was enroute to a Santa Ana City Council meeting was replayed numerous times by local television stations and that Rackauckas’ news conference comments were widely published. The district attorney’s conduct was a “clear and flagrant violation” of state rules of professional conduct, Riddet contended.

Riddet’s motion lists examples of what he called excessive comments that crossed the line of acceptable legal conduct. A hearing on the issue is scheduled tentatively for July 26.

At least seven women who worked at Public Works while Bustamente was an executive were victims of his sex crimes, according to the charges filed against him.

Among the Rackauckas comments that Riddet listed: “We want to know how a wolf was kept in charge of his prey for so long” and phrases like “groomed his victims” and “targeted women who were ‘emotionally vulnerable.’”

“Can there be any doubt that this conduct has had the expected result of tarnishing Mr. Bustamante as a sexual offender of the worst sort?” Riddet wrote in his motion to dismiss more than a dozen charges pending against the former Public Works Department executive. “Can there be any doubt that this conduct will prevent any possibility of a fair trial for Mr. Bustamante?”

Bustamente, once a promising potential Republican candidate for higher office, held his county position for eight years.

In the aftermath of Bustamante’s arrest, Public Works Director Jess Carbajal was fired and Deputy CEO Alisa Drakodaidis, who was in charge of the Public Works Department, reportedly put herself on leave.

Rackauckas and County Counsel Nicholas Chrisos are refusing to release a letter written by Drakodaidis, which reportedly contains allegations of improper actions by several county supervisors and Rackauckas.

— TRACY WOOD

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