A defense attorney Wednesday accused an Orange County prosecutor and Newport Beach police of an “abuse of power” in a domestic violence case to get even with a defendant who won a new trial motion on attempted murder charges.
An Orange County Superior Court judge on Thursday will consider a motion to revoke the bail of Jordan Adrian Salkin, who is facing new charges as he awaits a new trial on the attempted murder case.
Salkin’s attorney, Michael Molfetta, told City News Service he believes the prosecutor on the case, Mark Geller, has engaged in an “abuse of power” because he was angered by the defendant winning a new trial motion based on allegations that Geller failed to turn over 3,600 pages of medical records in Salkin’s attempted murder case.
Molfetta said the failure to turn over evidence was a “Brady violation,” but Geller insisted he was not found to have violated the law governing a prosecutor’s responsibility to turn over evidence to defense attorneys.
Salkin was convicted Feb. 6, 2019, with attempted murder and corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, both felonies with sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury in a domestic violence incident. That conviction was overturned in January by Judge Cheri Pham, who will hear the motion to revoke bail, Molfetta said.
Salkin was charged with beating his live-in girlfriend in Irvine so badly she fell into a coma and remains hospitalized, Geller said. Salkin’s previous attorneys in the first trial argued that the girlfriend attacked Salkin and jumped on his back from a counter and fell and hit her head.
Geller said his trial expert testified that the woman will never recover, is on life support and is in a persistent vegetative state.
Molfetta said Geller inflamed the jury with an argument that “she was as good as dead in a vegetative state, unable to feed herself and was on a feeding tube — all sorts of nonsense that would enflame any juror and he was convicted.”
Molfetta said there “were some 3,600 pages of medical records that existed at the time of trial that were not turned over to the defense … and on three separate occasions during the early phases of the trial the defense was asking for medical records and were being told by Geller that’s all there is.”
Molfetta said Geller “never subpoenaed a medical record, never contacted anybody about medical records, so when he represented as an officer of the count that that’s all there is that’s simply not true because he had not checked.”
Molfetta added, “Had he looked at the medical records he would see she was improving, she was not on a feeding tube and not in a vegetative state… He either knew that was untrue or didn’t know her true state, and he is either lying or incompetent. Either way it’s not good.”
Molfetta said during a private discussion in the judge’s chambers that Pham told Geller and the defense attorney she was going to grant the new trial based on the failure of turning over the medical records.
When Geller objected, Pham advised him that an evidentiary hearing that could lead to a Brady violation would harm his career, Molfetta said.
“She said she didn’t want to find Brady error because of the ramifications on the prosecutor,” Molfetta said.
Prosecutors could face discipline from the state bar or criminal charges for a Brady violation.
“Without saying it, it was her way of saying, `I’m doing you a favor,’ ” Molfetta said.
The current allegations stem from an incident June 10 with another live-in girlfriend in Newport Beach, Molfetta said.
Salkin got into an argument with his girlfriend, and a nanny told police she overheard the defendant threaten the victim, Molfetta said.
Salkin went on a business trip and nothing happened until Sunday when police came by their home in Newport Beach for a welfare check, Molfetta said.
The woman, her 9-year-old son and Salkin were not home because they went to stay at the Montage resort in Laguna Beach, Molfetta said. On Monday, police interviewed the boy, who denied any violence or threats, Molfetta said.
The boy, however, said the nanny had threatened to hit him, Molfetta said.
On Tuesday, a new trial date was set on the attempted murder case, but Geller did not raise any objections then based on the new domestic violence case, Molfetta said.
Later that day about 5 p.m., Newport Beach police returned to Salkin’s home saying they received an anonymous tip that a “female and young child were heard screaming in the house,” Molfetta said.
The girlfriend, however, told police she was at the store at that time and showed officers a receipt to prove it, Molfetta said. Molfetta complained to police they had no right to be in his client’s home and told them to get a search warrant.
Later, Molfetta told a Newport Beach detective officers could check the house and they found nothing incriminating.
About 10:30 p.m., a warrant was issued to do a detailed search of the house, which was done around midnight, Molfetta said.
The warrant was based on a complaint made by a “drunk, abusive nanny” and did not yield any evidence, Molfetta said.
Molfetta said the alleged victim has not been interviewed.
“We have a prosecutor who is exposed for not turning over thousands of pages of evidence and he’s seized an opportunity to try to create a problem for a client, who had exposed him,” Molfetta said.
Geller told City News Service Salkin turned himself in to police Wednesday afternoon and he was charged with two counts of criminal threats and domestic violence with a sentencing enhancement for committing a crime while out on bail on a separate case.
Geller said, “Pham found on the record it was not a Brady violation. That is specifically the actual finding.”
Geller would not go into details, but said Molfetta was “misrepresenting” the facts in the current case.
“He’s never even read the police reports,” Geller said. “He has no idea what is contained in those reports.”
Police were looking for a shotgun that Salkin allegedly threatened to use to kill his girlfriend and her son, Geller said.
“The search warrant was authorized by a judge, not me,” Geller said. “It was submitted to a judge under penalty of perjury by a police officer.”
Geller said, “I will sleep fine tonight knowing what I did was right and ethical.”
The prosecutor said Salkin is a “dangerous person.”
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