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Racketeering Case Against Teacher Dropped

December 22, 1999|DAVID ROSENZWEIG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Federal prosecutors have quietly dropped their case against a Los Angeles teacher who was accused of serving as a courier for Mexican Mafia leaders behind bars.

Margaret Cheryl Farrell, 50, of Reseda was indicted on racketeering charges in July along with 40 suspected members of the Mexican Mafia.

The charges against Farrell, who has been free on bond, were dismissed last week, Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, confirmed Tuesday.

Mrozek would not disclose why the case was dropped, but he said the charges could be refiled if warranted.

Reached for comment, Farrell's lawyer, Morton H. Boren, said Farrell "did carry messages to inmates but they had nothing to do with the Mexican Mafia. They were from family members."

Boren added: "She's a good lady."

Farrell taught English to immigrant children at the Foshay Learning Center, an experimental public school in South Los Angeles, for 13 years. She was placed on administrative leave without pay after her arrest.

A spokeswoman said Tuesday that the school district has been notified about the dismissal of criminal charges and that Farrell's employment status is under review. She has not yet been allowed to return to work.

Farrell, described by associates as a sincere do-gooder, was known to have stayed in touch with former students, including those in jail.

One school official said at the time of her arrest: "The trouble with her is that she is a gentle, kind and caring human being--to a fault."

According to the indictment, she once carried a message that named three people targeted by Mexican Mafia leaders for reprisal attacks.

Farrell's only other known arrest was during the 1970s when she participated in an antiwar rally.

The other defendants named in the indictment are scheduled to go on trial next year in federal court.

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