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Witness Fails to Show Up; Now 1 Case Becomes 2

The woman was due to testify against her ex-boyfriend, accused of rape and torture. Three men have been charged with spiriting her away.

October 09, 2006|Peter Y. Hong | Times Staff Writer

On the morning she was scheduled to testify against an ex-boyfriend charged with raping and torturing her, the 20-year-old woman did not show up in court.

Her testimony was the foundation of the case against Alex Javier Izquierdo, and in the Pasadena courtroom where she was to have appeared, the prosecutor said that she had expected the young woman to be there and that she had no idea where she was.

It was Feb. 2, 2005, and Mark Geragos, the lawyer defending Izquierdo, moved to dismiss the case.

The judge rescheduled the hearing for later that month, but again the young woman did not show up.

Rather than dismiss the charges, the judge ruled that Izquierdo would be tried on 24 counts, including rape, torture and false imprisonment, based on the testimony of the police detective who investigated the case.

If convicted, Izquierdo, the 29-year-old son of a well-to-do real estate broker, faces life in prison. He is to stand trial Nov. 16.

And what happened to the woman at the center of the intrigue? Prosecutors say she was spirited away by associates of Izquierdo's father, George Izquierdo, in an intricate plot to move her out of Los Angeles and buy her silence. One case has blossomed into two.

According to prosecutors, Bradley G. Miller, a private investigator working for Geragos, joined George Izquierdo and Camilo Valentin, a real estate agent who worked for George Izquierdo, in a scheme to derail the rape case by hiding the young woman in Las Vegas and giving her money.

The three men were charged in June with conspiracy and offering to bribe a witness and are awaiting a preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence for them to be tried. If convicted, each would face up to five years in prison.

"Our system of justice is designed to bring out the truth. When someone tries to obstruct that, it is a very serious matter and a crime," said Sandi Gibbons, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office.

But Mark J. Werksman, Miller's attorney, said the conspiracy allegations are based on lies; the woman, he said, "spent several days partying in Las Vegas on her own free will because she no longer wanted to cooperate with the D.A. in the prosecution of Alex Izquierdo." The Times was unable to reach the woman.

Werksman said in an interview that the woman lied about the bribery "to avoid getting in trouble for her reckless and irresponsible behavior."

Miller has long worked with Geragos, who is among the nation's best-known defense lawyers and who has represented Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson. During the 2004 child molestation case in which Jackson was acquitted, Miller made news when his office was searched by the police. Jackson's defense lawyers called the raid -- in which computers and videotapes were seized -- a breach of attorney-client privilege.

Geragos declined to comment for this article. He had argued in a preliminary hearing that the young woman was attacked not by Alex Izquierdo but by another boyfriend.

Miller, George Izquierdo and Valentin, all of whom declined to comment, are free on bail. Prosecutors declined to comment on the conspiracy case, but court documents outline the alleged plot in detail.

The woman had briefly worked at George Izquierdo's Highland Park real estate brokerage, Las Casas Realty Inc., with Alex Izquierdo and Camilo Valentin. She and Alex Izquierdo lived together for several months in 2003 in a Pasadena apartment, where she alleged that he raped and tortured her in October, November and December 2003. She told police Alex Izquierdo had burned her with an iron, threatened to kill her and sodomized her.

She told investigators that she was approached in January 2005 by Valentin at a Highland Park laundromat. She said Valentin told her George Izquierdo would take care of her for the rest of her life if she did not testify against his son. Valentin, she said, offered to broker a deal with George Izquierdo and wanted half of the money.

Shortly after that meeting, according to a search warrant affidavit, Valentin met the woman at a Jamba Juice in Old Pasadena and gave her $1,000. They agreed then to meet on Feb. 2, 2005, the day she was to testify in court against Alex Izquierdo.

Court documents say the woman went to a Toys-R-Us store, where Valentin met her and drove her to Las Vegas, where she was put up at the Bally's and Aladdin hotels for 11 days. On Feb. 10, a boyfriend arrived in Las Vegas to travel with her to Arizona, where they were to stay with her relatives, the search warrant affidavit states. Valentin had the two sign statements that he had prepared declaring they did not wish to testify in the rape case against Alex Izquierdo, according to the affidavit.

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