Convicted tax evader Nancy Hoover Hunter was moved suddenly Friday from a downtown San Diego jail to a federal prison in Northern California, a transfer that caught even her defense attorneys by surprise.
Robert Brewer, Hunter’s San Diego defense lawyer, said he was “furious” when he learned that Hunter had been transferred Friday morning from the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown San Diego to a federal prison in Pleasanton, Calif., about 35 miles east of San Franciso.
Hunter, convicted last December of four counts of tax evasion linked to the collapse of the J. David & Co. investment house, is scheduled to go to trial again May 1 on 192 other counts on which her first jury deadlocked. Those remaining counts deal primarily with fraud and conspiracy charges stemming from her role at the failed La Jolla firm.
The transfer out of San Diego was unexpected, Brewer said, because “we were in the process of preparing for her next case. We will take all steps necessary to get her back as soon as possible so we can prepare.”
“This is a jail facility for people who have active cases in the federal court in (San Diego),” said Joseph O. Barda, executive assistant to the MCC warden. “She no longer has an active case. Her trial is over.”
Although Hunter’s second trial is to begin in four weeks, Barda said she was moved because MCC is crowded. “When you’re a jail facility, every bed counts, and we’re well over capacity here,” he said. “So if there isn’t an active case, bed space is precious to us.”
MCC, which has an official capacity of 546 prisoners, held 828 people Friday, Barda said.
Nearly 1,500 investors lost about $80 million in the J. David fraud, a Ponzi scheme in which money from new investors was used to pay off old investors and little actual trading of stocks or money market funds was done.
Prosecutors allege that Hunter played a key role in the scheme, creating false documents to lure investors to J. David and to lull them into maintaining their accounts while the firm slid toward bankruptcy in February, 1984.
After an eight-month trial, a jury convicted Hunter Dec. 11 of the four tax counts, finding that she evaded about $1 million in taxes from 1980 through 1983. The jury deadlocked, 11-1, for conviction on the 192 fraud and conspiracy counts and acquitted her of one other tax charge.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Earl B. Gilliam sentenced Hunter to 10 years in prison on the four tax counts.
Hunter’s ex-lover, firm founder J. David (Jerry) Dominelli, pleaded guilty in 1985 to fraud and tax evasion in connection with the Ponzi scheme. He is serving a 20-year sentence at the same federal prison in Pleasanton to which Hunter was transferred Friday.