Skin guru acquitted of murder plot sues L.A. County sheriff's officials

Skin guru acquitted of murder plot sues L.A. County sheriff's officials
Dawn DaLuise in court last year. She was found not guilty. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A skin care guru to the stars acquitted of plotting to kill a rival has sued Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives alleging they conducted a shoddy investigation that led to her being jailed for more than 10 months before her trial.

A jury took only an hour in January to find Dawn DaLuise not guilty of solicitation of murder and solicitation of assault charges.


In a lawsuit filed last week, DaLuise alleged that investigators claimed they had a "solid case" but actually relied on a witness they later arrested on suspicion of stalking her.

Sheriff's investigators arrested DaLuise last year, saying that text messages she sent showed she was serious about having her West Hollywood business rival, Smooth Cheeks owner Gabriel Suarez, killed. Authorities accused her of approaching a former NFL player to carry out the task.

But the suit alleges a search of her 6,000 messages by authorities yielded only two text messages related to Suarez and that one of those messages ended with the phrase LOL -- meaning "laugh out loud." The messages were not intended to be taken seriously, the suit said.

The texts mention "taking out" Suarez but actually refer only to "hurting his hands (tools of his trade) not to kill Suarez," the suit claims.

Her attorney has previously said DaLuise was just venting to a friend and never intended to hurt her business competitor. The man she was accused of asking to carry out the killing, the suit noted, later told a detective he was never asked to kill anyone.

DaLuise, whose clients have included celebrities Nicki Minaj, Jennifer Aniston and Alicia Silverstone, alleges she was actually the victim of a stalking.

According to the suit, she began noticing lewd emails, fliers and at least one craigslist posting targeting her in 2013. The craigslist posting said she wanted to be part of a rape fantasy and resulted in several men knocking on her door in response to the ad.

The lawsuit alleges that the stalking was the work of a then-friend, Edward Feinstein, who was also telling detectives that DaLuise was colluding with him to make it look like Suarez was targeting her. Feinstein, the suit says, provided detectives with the texts that were ultimately used as evidence against DaLuise.

Feinstein was arrested and released last year on suspicion of stalking DaLuise but has not been charged. Feinstein could not be reached for comment Monday.

The lawsuit accused sheriff's officials of failing to properly investigate Feinstein before they arrested DaLuise.

Sheriff's Capt. Shawn Mathers on Monday said he could not comment on the lawsuit because he has yet to see it. Mathers, along with the sheriff and two others investigators, was named in the suit. In January, following DaLuise's acquittal, he defended the investigation, saying the department believed it had a strong case despite the jury's verdict.

The lawsuit noted that prosecutors had offered DaLuise a deal before the trial: Plead guilty to felony solicitation for assault and go free. DaLuise turned down the offer, insisting on her innocence.

The suit seeks unspecified damages for DaLuise, saying she suffered financially and emotionally as a result of her arrest and prosecution. She says she lost two businesses and suffered humiliating strip searches -- and body cavity searches -- during her time awaiting trial in the county's jail.

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