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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Lawyer Told to Reveal Who Paid Client's Fees

August 08, 2000

LOS ANGELES — A federal judge Monday ordered a criminal defense lawyer to tell a grand jury who paid the legal fees for a former state narcotics agent now serving a life term for drug trafficking.

But U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder delayed her order for 30 days so attorney Richard A. Hamar, of Beverly Hills, can appeal it to a higher court.

Hamar and his wife, Maria, represented Richard Wayne Parker, 45, a veteran agent with the state Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement, during two trials that resulted in his conviction last year on charges of conspiracy and drug distribution.

Parker was implicated in the theft of nearly 650 pounds of cocaine from the bureau's Riverside office in July 1997.

Several months after his conviction, FBI agents arrested Parker's half-brother, George Michael Ruelas, 44, a California Highway Patrol officer, on charges of staging the burglary. Ruelas is awaiting trial.

Federal prosecutors obtained a grand jury subpoena for Hamar's records in June. He asked Snyder to quash the subpoena, calling it a "veiled attempt" to investigate the case against Ruelas.

In a court document, he complained that the subpoena also asked for extensive information about his employment of private investigators, expert witnesses and consultants as well information about Parker's friends and family members.

He denounced the subpoena as an abuse of the grand jury process. But Snyder, citing information provided to her by the prosecution behind closed doors, ordered Hamar to comply.

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