Prosecution Criticized in Land Case
A lawyer for Marshall Redman argued Thursday that authorities cannot prosecute him for land fraud because he has already been punished as the result of a 1994 lawsuit.
In a motion, defense attorney Harland W. Braun said that forcing Redman to defend himself against seven felony fraud and theft charges in an alleged Antelope Valley land sales scheme would violate his constitutional right against double jeopardy.
“You may not like Marshall Redman, but what I don’t like is a sneaky government,” said Braun, whose high-profile clients include one of the officers in the Rodney King beating case, John Z. DeLorean, and “Twilight Zone--The Movie” director John Landis.
Redman appeared in Los Angeles Municipal Court on charges of theft and fraud in the sales of undeveloped parcels to working-class Latinos in Los Angeles, Kern and San Bernardino counties. Between 1978 and 1994, authorities have alleged, Redman’s three real estate firms took in millions of dollars annually while failing to deliver on promises about zoning and utilities.
The developer at one time owned a home in Beverly Hills, a Paris condominium and a pricey art and sculpture collection. Redman has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Dressed in a charcoal gray suit and black and white polka-dot tie, Redman said little as he stood, hands clasped in front of him, before Judge David M. Horowitz, who continued his preliminary hearing until July 29.
Last summer, Redman agreed to pay $580,000 to settle a civil lawsuit brought in 1994 by Kern County prosecutors and the Los Angeles city attorney’s office. He also agreed to turn over his three firms to a court-appointed receiver.
In a statement, Los Angeles Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti said the civil case was filed in an attempt to protect the interests of the victims and stop fraudulent sales. Redman was accused of misrepresentation and unfair business practices. The receiver is attempting to clear title to the land for the buyers, provide alternative land or a refund.
Garcetti said that if his office had filed criminal charges against the developer sooner, “Redman’s assets could have been easily diverted or concealed.”
Braun disagreed. “They basically sandbagged him,” he said. “They played a game of tag team prosecution. After neglecting the case for years, prosecutors hit him with a civil case. He paid big bucks in fines. They took over half his businesses. When he’s done with that, they say ‘Oh, by the way, we’re arresting you and taking you to jail.’ There’s something dirty going on here.”
Assistant Dist. Atty. Don Tamura, head of the agency’s real estate fraud unit that is prosecuting Redman, was tight-lipped about Braun’s move.
“I don’t believe it’s a well-taken motion,” he said outside the courtroom. “Until I see the details on paper, I really can’t comment further.”
In recent weeks, following disclosures in The Times, the district attorney’s office has come under fire from the county Board of Supervisors, who have asked why county prosecutors did not move against Redman earlier. Three supervisors have called for Garcetti to appear before the board to explain his agency’s handling of the case.
The supervisors have also formed a task force to determine why state and local agencies failed to take effective action against the land sales despite hundreds of complaints and inquiries.
Braun said he will argue that prosecution is also barred by the statute of limitations because authorities knew of Redman’s activities for more than a decade before taking any action to stop him.
“They knew about this for a long time and the statute of limitations ran its course,” Braun said of prosecutors. “They dragged their feet and deprived Marshall Redman of a chance to get on with his life.”