State Bar Recommends One Year Suspension For OC Prosecutor

Kaitlin Washburn for Voice of OC

The Orange County District Attorney's Office headquarters in Santa Ana.

A judge for the State Bar of California is recommending Deputy District Attorney Sandra Lee Nassar be suspended from practicing law for one year, for failing to turn over evidence to defense attorneys in a 2011 child abuse case.

With the aid of jail deputies, Nassar secretly collected two inmates’ mail for more than two years without the knowledge of the inmates, Carmen William Iacullo II and Lori Pincus, or their attorneys, according to the judge’s decision.

Among the more than 1,000 pages of material Nassar intercepted was a letter in which Pincus said she wasn’t physically present to witness Iacullo’s crimes, in contradiction with a statement that Nassar later had Pincus sign.

“This court found deeply disturbing Respondent’s testimony that she would engage in the same conduct again,” wrote Judge Yvette D.  Roland in her decision. “In her capacity as a prosecutor, Respondent’s lack of insight on this subject represents a tremendous threat of future harm to the public and the administration of justice.”

Iacullo pleaded guilty in 2014 to a single felony count of corporal injury to a child for allegedly beating, burning and stabbing a five-year-old child, Pincus’s son, and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Pincus, meanwhile, was sentenced to two years for allow the abuse to continue and covering up for her boyfriend. She received a plea deal in exchange for testifying against Iacullo.

According to the judge’s decision, it was not until Nassar rotated out of the Family Protection Unit and another DA’s prosecutor took over the case that the letters were turned over to defense attorneys.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals recused Nassar from the case.

“Ignorance of the law for an experienced prosecutor for engaging in Brady misconduct is not a reasonable excuse either. That was a willful violation,” Goethals said.

Prosecutors are required to turn over any evidence that could aid the defense under a 1963 Supreme Court Case known as Brady v. Maryland.

Michelle Van Der Linden, spokesman for the DA’s Office, said the office is reviewing the decision.

“DDA Nassar will be making a decision whether to appeal the ruling within the next 30 days.  Meantime, her license and ability to practice law remain intact,” Van Der Linden said in a written statement.

The judge’s decision will now go to the State Supreme Court, which will decide whether or not to suspend Nassar.

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