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Art Snyder Sues Man Over Letter

Court: Ex-councilman says an e-mail that allegedly called him a Satanic priest is libelous.

July 19, 2001|RICHARD WINTON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Former Los Angeles City Councilman Art Snyder has filed a $2-million libel suit against a member of the Altadena Town Council for allegedly writing an e-mail calling him a child-molesting Satanic priest--who aided the Hillside Strangler.

Snyder, an attorney, filed the lawsuit in Pasadena Superior Court against Steve Lamb last week, accusing the town councilman of sending the e-mail May 31 "with malice and reckless disregard for the truth."

"The letter is libelous on its face," wrote Snyder, the legendary Eastside councilman, who served from 1967 to 1985.

Lamb sent the e-mail to three people, including an aide to county Supervisor Mike Antonovich, after a meeting about controversial plans to develop parts of Altadena.

Snyder, 68, said the e-mail was given to him by Antonovich.

"I cannot believe anyone thought they could get away with saying this about anyone," Snyder said. "People today say the most irresponsible things about people. We've got to stop it. This is utterly malicious."

In the e-mail, Snyder is allegedly called a child molester who was once secretly photographed officiating over a Satan-worshiping ceremony. The suit also alleges that the e-mail says Snyder befriended Angelo Buono, one of two men convicted in the Hillside Strangler murders of the late 1970s, and gave him parking passes to city and county yards during Buono's killing spree.

The e-mail said Snyder "died a couple of years ago of prostate cancer" and "Snyder's daughter came forward and claimed he molested her," according to the suit.

A district attorney's investigation in 1985 found insufficient evidence that Snyder molested his daughter, then 9. The accusation was made during divorce proceedings with his wife.

Snyder was convicted of misdemeanor laundering of political contributions in 1996 and was required to wear a monitoring bracelet.

Lamb could not be reached for comment but e-mailed several people Monday, including a reporter: "It is my understanding that all of my e-mails are private, privileged correspondence among friends, given in confidence and restricted to the listed recipients only. If you do not accept this understanding, please notify me that I may permanently remove your e-mail from my list."

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