Former Los Angeles Councilman Arthur K. Snyder, facing political money-laundering charges, asked a judge Tuesday for permission to leave the country for a visit with his daughter, before he has surgery for a recently diagnosed cancer condition.
Prosecutors in the case said they would oppose the request on the grounds that the lawmaker-turned-lobbyist, who faces possible prison time if convicted in an allegedly vast scheme to funnel illegal donations to local and state politicians, could flee.
Snyder's wife, Delia, who also faces charges, remains out of the country, and a warrant has been issued for her arrest.
Snyder, who is free on his own recognizance, has said his wife returned to her native Taiwan and has not indicated when or if she will return.
In a motion filed late Tuesday, Snyder's attorney, Mark Geragos, said the trip is "extremely significant" to both Snyder and his only daughter, Erin, who is studying this year at the University of Ireland in Galway. The motion says Snyder, 62, was diagnosed with cancer in the past month and is scheduled to undergo surgery late next month.
Snyder, who denies any wrongdoing, was not immediately available for comment. However, a source close to the former Eastside representative said he has prostate cancer.
Snyder appeared at a brief hearing in the case Monday and afterward unleashed the latest in a series of bitter verbal salvos at the district attorney's office. In the travel request, he is described as "seriously ill."
Erin Snyder "has a spring break and he would like to visit her before he undergoes the operation," Geragos said. "I would have hoped they would have had more consideration for the situation."
But Deputy Dist. Atty. Gail Ehrlich said under the circumstances, prosecutors will object.
"Our concern is (Art Snyder) will decide to stay out of the country," Ehrlich said. "Once you give someone their passport back, there is no means by which you can control where he goes. We would have no way of preventing him from going to a country for which we have no extradition."
Snyder's law practice, home and property are here, his attorney said, insisting there is no chance his client would flee.
Snyder, his Downtown law firm and seven others were indicted in January by the county grand jury on felony charges of conspiracy to violate the state Political Reform Act. In one of the largest such cases of its kind in California, prosecutors contend that Snyder sought to bolster his lobbying influence by secretly channeling hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds to politicians.
Superior Court Judge John Ouderkirk, who is considering motions by defendants to have the indictment thrown out, is scheduled to hear arguments on Snyder's travel request this morning.