The first Los Angeles County jailhouse informant to be charged with perjury has died while awaiting extradition from New York. Sidney Storch died of complications from AIDS Sunday night, New York City jail authorities said.
Storch, a 46-year-old heroin addict and check forger, was arrested in Queens last month on a Los Angeles indictment that charged him with lying about past favors he had received from prosecutors while testifying in 1988 as a key prosecution witness against Sheldon Sanders.
Storch, who testified as a prosecution witness in at least eight cases in Los Angeles and repeatedly won leniency for himself, testified in Sanders' case that he had never received any benefits for giving testimony. Storch testified that Sanders confessed to a gang-related killing to him on a jail bus. Sanders is serving a life term.
Storch's indictment could lead to Sanders' conviction being overturned. However, Deputy Dist. Atty. George Palmer said his office will not re-examine the integrity of the conviction until Sanders' attorney files a petition challenging it.
Meanwhile, a prosecutor for the California attorney general's office, which brought the Storch indictment, confirmed Monday that the jailhouse informant investigation is continuing, and suggested for the first time that prosecutors, as well as informants, might be targets.
So far, only one other informant, Leslie Vernon White, has been indicted for perjury.
"There is a continuing investigation," said Deputy Atty. Gen. Tricia Bigelow.
However, when she was asked whether the investigation involved prosecutors or others in law enforcement, Bigelow alluded to a footnote in the 1990 report of the county grand jury, which spent a year looking into the misuse of jailhouse informants.
The footnote said the grand jury had referred "several matters that suggest provable criminal cases to the district attorney for consideration." The district attorney's office, citing a conflict of interest, passed the materials to the attorney general's office.
"I think it's public knowledge that the information turned over to us from the grand jury included the names of some persons who were district attorneys and involved in law enforcement," said Bigelow.