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Supervisor Candidate Schaefer Ordered Jailed for Contempt of Court

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Former San Diego City Councilman Michael Schaefer, a current candidate for the county Board of Supervisors, was jailed Wednesday by a San Diego federal judge for contempt of court connected to a multimillion-dollar state court lawsuit.

U.S. District Judge Rudi M. Brewster ordered Schaefer jailed indefinitely after finding that the millionaire slum landlord persisted in filing legal papers on appeals and settlement talks in the state court suit after he had been told to desist. In that suit, a jury awarded Los Angeles tenants of Schaefer’s $1.83 million in damages.

Schaefer, a San Diego attorney, was led away immediately to the federal Metropolitan Correctional Center.

In a related development, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge approved a settlement Wednesday in the state court suit under which the the tenants would receive $1.95 million.

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Schaefer, 52, is a candidate in the June 5 supervisorial primary for the 4th District seat held by Leon Williams. Willie Blair, a former aide to San Diego Mayor Maureen O’Connor, is the third candidate in the race.

Schaefer was a City Council member from 1965 to 1971. He has since lost more than a dozen races in San Diego and in two other states, including contests for mayor, city attorney, district attorney, judge, state Senate, Congress, State Board of Equalization, secretary of state in Nevada and the U.S. Senate in Maryland.

In 1986, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury returned the $1.83-million verdict against him in a suit brought by former tenants in a Mid-Wilshire building. The jurors found that Schaefer had allowed the building, which he bought in 1977, to become overrun by 1981 with rats, cockroaches and violence.

The tenants have yet to receive a penny of the money. However, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Barnet M. Cooperman approved the $1.95-million settlement Wednesday, leaving only a June 5 hearing on the deal in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in San Diego, according to attorneys involved in the case.

The case is in bankruptcy court because Schaefer filed for bankruptcy protection in July, 1987, to avoid or delay paying the tenants.

As part of the bankruptcy, a trustee took over control of all of Schaefer’s assets, resulting in his being excluded from involvement with further action--appeals or settlement negotiations--linked to the lawsuit.

Last October, Brewster made it formal, issuing an order directing Schaefer to refrain from involvement with appeals or settlement talks without prior written permission from the bankruptcy trustee or Bankruptcy Court.

However, Schaefer filed briefs with four different courts--two of which are still pending--asking himself for help, according to court documents.

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Saying Wednesday that Schaefer was “biting himself in the tail,” Brewster ordered him jailed until the two pending briefs are withdrawn.

Schaefer’s attorney, Floyd Morrow, could not be reached Wednesday for comment.


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