Tossed in Jail for Contempt of Court : He Slams a Door; Judge Does, Too

Times Staff Writer

One-time Buena Park City Council candidate Steve A. Grasha, accused of lying on nomination papers in 1985, was sent to jail for contempt of court Tuesday when he stormed out of an Orange County courtroom, slamming a door, after the judge ruled against him on a legal motion.

The 27-year-old Grasha, who now lives in Palm Springs, was charged in 1985 with four counts of perjury and one count of filing false statements on nomination papers. He was accused of falsifying his address on papers filed for the November, 1985, election. At the time, he allegedly did not live in Buena Park.

A judge dismissed four of the five charges, but they were reinstated after an appeal by the Orange County district attorney's office last November.

No Contest Plea

On Feb. 25, 1987, Grasha entered a no contest plea before Superior Court Judge Kathleen E. O'Leary to a misdemeanor charge of filing a false statement. In return, the prosecutor agreed to dismiss the four felony perjury counts.

On Tuesday, Grasha's attorney, Deputy Public Defender Lawrence Buckley, made a motion to withdraw Grasha's plea.

Grasha had argued that he was the victim of discriminatory prosecution, citing the district attorney's failure to prosecute Orange County Sheriff Brad Gates for failure to list his actual address on candidacy papers.

At the time, Gates claimed that delays in a real estate transaction caused some confusion over his legal residence, which is now in San Clemente. He previously lived in San Juan Capistrano.

After Grasha's plea was entered, Buckley said, it was learned that U.S. Rep. Robert K. Dornan (R-Garden Grove) had done "the same thing" as Gates.

"But we didn't know that at the time Grasha entered his plea, which is why we made a motion to set aside his plea," Buckley said.

When O'Leary denied the motion, Grasha became upset.

"He made some verbal comments overheard by the judge, then went outside and slammed the door," Deputy Dist. Atty. Nathaniel Glover said.

Glover said O'Leary seemed willing to overlook the verbal comments "but not slamming the door."

Bailiff Sent to Fetch Him

O'Leary ordered a bailiff to bring Grasha back to court on a contempt charge, Buckley said.

The judge then sentenced him to five days in jail but ordered him released about 3 p.m. from a holding cell at the North Orange County Courthouse. The judge could not be reached for comment.

Grasha's sentencing date on the no contest plea was scheduled for July 8.

His attorney said he was expecting some leniency from the judge, but after his actions Tuesday both attorneys expressed uncertainty.

"As for a sentence, it would be up to the discretion of the court," Glover said.

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