A prosecutor who had been suspended by the state bar for improperly withholding evidence in a 2011 child abuse case has been dismissed by the Orange County district attorney’s office, according to her attorney.
Sandra Nassar, who had worked with the Orange County D.A.’s office for nearly 20 years, began her six-month suspension in early February. It’s unclear when she was dismissed. The Orange County district attorney’s office did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
The attorney who represented Nassar in the state bar legal proceedings, Brentford Ferreira, called the decision to fire her “deplorable.”
“She had done nothing wrong,” he said. “It’s disappointing the current administration has decided to dismiss her.”
After several appeals, the state bar in August found that Nassar withheld information from defense attorneys in letters written between Carmen William Iacullo II and Lori Pincus, who had been accused of torturing Pincus’ 5-year-old son.
Nassar was relying on the child’s testimony to identify Iacullo as one of his abusers. She and investigators with the district attorney’s office testified that they were worried the defendants would try to find the child and harm him to prevent him from testifying, according to a petition for the Supreme Court to review the bar’s decision.
Because of her fear over the boy’s safety, Nassar requested a “mail cover” on all correspondence between Iacullo and Pincus, according to court records. At Nassar’s request, jail officials made copies of letters between Iacullo and Pincus and gave the copies to Nassar before the mail was delivered to the defendants.
In April 2013, when Nassar rotated out of the unit handling the child abuse case and Deputy Dist. Atty. Jennifer Duke took over, Duke said she was surprised to learn that the letters hadn’t been given to Iacullo’s defense attorney.
According to documents, Duke testified that when she asked why Nassar didn’t turn over the letters, Nassar responded: “Why would I?”
In one letter, the boy’s mother indicated Iacullo hadn’t injured her son and wasn’t present during the abuse. Iacullo had been facing up to seven years to life in prison but ended up agreeing to a plea deal with 12 years in prison, without the letters being given to his attorneys as evidence, according to court documents.
Nassar denied any wrongdoing. She appealed decisions by the state bar — which led to the lessening of her suspension from one year to six months — and petitioned for the case to be reviewed by the Supreme Court, which the court denied, Ferreira said.
Ferreira argued that Nassar’s actions were not violating any laws because there was no upcoming trial for the case (evidence is required to be turned over 30 days prior to a trial), according to court documents. Trial dates were set and continued several times.
Ferreira said the previous administration, led by former Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas, supported Nassar as she filed several appeals against the state bar’s decision to suspend her.
The attorney said he thinks his client’s dismissal comes because of changes in administration after a new district attorney, Todd Spitzer, was sworn in at the beginning of the year.