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Montgomery's Attorney Summoned : Moorpark: Lawyer outraged over being ordered to appear with councilman before grand jury in investigation of his client's financial dealings.

October 07, 1995|SCOTT HADLY | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

MOORPARK — The attorney for Moorpark City Councilman Scott Montgomery has been ordered to appear with his client next week before the Ventura County grand jury, which is probing possible financial ties between Montgomery and a trash company executive.

Expressing outrage about what he calls a disregard for attorney-client privilege, lawyer Daniel Schmidt said he was served with a subpoena Friday to produce receipts and invoices related to business transactions between Montgomery and Manuel Asadurian Sr., a top official at G. I. Industries, the east county's largest trash hauler.

"Either they are very close to the line or they already have stepped over the line of prosecutorial misconduct," Schmidt said angrily. "They are trying to step between an attorney and his client . . . forcing them to divulge confidential attorney-client privileged matter. I am outraged."

The district attorney's office would not comment on the case. Officials there would not even confirm whether the grand jury was looking into the matter.

While unusual, the aggressive move to subpoena Schmidt is still legal, experts say. Schmidt agreed, but said that he would not have to answer any questions about discussions he has had with Montgomery, because those discussions are protected under attorney-client privilege.

But if Schmidt has evidence that has bearing on the case, the law requires that it be turned over to the district attorney's office, Schmidt said.

In addition, the prosecutors could ask Schmidt about information he may have learned outside of his representation of Montgomery.

Schmidt, who started representing Montgomery only after he became an attorney in June, 1994, has worked and been friends with Montgomery for more than a decade.

Schmidt's subpoena is the latest in a series of subpoenas issued by Deputy Dist. Atty. Mark Aveis in a grand jury investigation into Montgomery's dealings with Asadurian.

Montgomery already appeared before the grand jury twice last week answering questions about a $3,500 payment he received from G. I. Sweeping, a street-cleaning and graffiti-removal company owned by Asadurian.

Asadurian was serving as the chief executive officer of G. I. Industries at the time, and Montgomery was voting on trash hauling contracts with G. I. Industries and serving on the Ventura County Waste Commission.

Asadurian and several other officials from the company testified before the grand jury on Monday.

Montgomery insists the payment was for the sale of a computer and software to G. I. Sweeping, which is independent of G. I. Industries, but Asadurian said the money was a short-term loan that has yet to be repaid.

Schmidt said Montgomery told him the grand jury's questions seemed to focus on whether the payment was adequately disclosed on campaign financial statements and whether Montgomery's votes on trash contracts with G. I. Industries presented any conflict of interest.

But Schmidt also said district attorney prosecutors have taken a heavy hand.

"They are obviously trying to intimidate me and my client, who is struggling to cooperate yet preserve his rights," Schmidt said. "Scott has a right to effective assistance of counsel, yet . . . numerous times during his grand jury appearance, the D.A. has attempted to prevent Scott from seeking that assistance. [The D.A.] has tried to humiliate him, attempting to pulverize him in front of the grand jury, and make [Montgomery] look like he's got something to hide, when all he really wants is to talk to his attorney."

Schmidt and Montgomery are scheduled to appear before the grand jury at 11 a.m. Wednesday.

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