Prosecutor Accused of False Testimony Resigns

An Orange County deputy district attorney accused of false testimony last year during a hearing in the murder case against Scott Evans Dekraai has resigned, court records show.

Erik S. Petersen — who was a lead prosecutor for District Attorney Tony Rackauckas on major gang cases — filed a declaration last week stating that he won’t be available to testify in a case because he has resigned effective Sept. 18 and has accepted a job in another state.

The declaration was in response to a request from a defense attorney in a murder case for Petersen’s testimony in October. The defendant was recently convicted, but Superior Court Richard M. King is hearing defense testimony about possible trial irregularities.

This is not the only case that could be complicated by Petersen’s departure. He was also a prosecutor in multiple cases arising from the Black Flag and Smokin’ Aces operations in recent years against Mexican Mafia members operating in Orange County.

King reportedly scheduled a hearing Wednesday about seeking advance testimony from Petersen. Petersen could not be reached for comment today.

During the hearing in the case of mass murderer Scott Evans Dekraai, who in 2011 shot to death his ex-wife and seven others in a Seal Beach beauty salon, Petersen testified that informant evidence wasn’t released to a defendant in another case because the U.S. Attorney’s Office didn’t want the information disclosed.

Specifically, Petersen testified that then-assistant U.S. attorney Terri K. Flynn-Peister — now an Orange County Superior Court Judge — wanted the information withheld.

But Flynn-Peister testified before Superior Court Thomas M. Goethals in June 2014 that never occurred — in one of the more dramatic moments in the months of hearing sessions over the law enforcement misuse of informants.

In his March ruling halting Rackauckas’ entire office from the prosecution of Dekraai, Goethals specifically said the court did not believe Petersen’s testimony. , adding:

“[Petersen] unsuccessfully tried to shift responsibility for a serious breach in another case to the shoulders of a former federal prosecutor,” Goethals said.

Petersen’s resignation is the latest fallout from the Dekraai case, in which Scott Sanders, the defendant’s lead county public defender, has exposed a web of irregularities — which already have altered the sentences of more than a half-dozen defendants.

The state Attorney General’s Office is set to continue prosecuting Dekraai, but that decision is on appeal.

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  • John Claxton

    It’s just what they do at the County of Orange. They will either quit or get fired for wrong doing. The quitters will quietly be rehired in less than a year when all the dust settles. Most of the fired ones will get their jobs back after a lengthy and costly appeal if they get a decent attorney. If you use the union or employees association you are doomed.

  • Jacki Livingston

    T-Rack is corrupt. Hot Toddy is corrupt. Mike Ryan, Tony Do…it is a huge list…they are all corrupt. So why are they making an example of this guy. Nail em all or stop pretending you care.

  • John Claxton

    Ten bucks says that job won’t pan out and in less than a year he will be back to work at the DA’s office with a big fat raise and promotion.

  • Paul Lucas

    If he accused of perjury it would be prudent to issue an arrest warrant and have im placed in custody without bail so he can testify.

  • Cynthia Ward

    I don’t know that quitting and leaving the state opts him out of the system, does it? A Judge’s order is a Judge’s order, who you work for or what state you live in becomes irrelevant at some point in the process.

  • David Zenger

    Well, that’s convenient for Rackauckas.

    But why wasn’t he fired and charged with a crime.

    Oh, right. That would be justice.

    • octaxpayer

      They all are above the law.