Friday, March 28, 2008

The ballad of John Pettit

Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named John. The poor ex-D.A. says his story was all wrong. Remember when he told us that the money was all gifts? Well, that's all changed since the marital rift. Loans they were! Gotta repay! But not to her!

Let's start with a little history. Way back in the late '80s, a guy named Fred Brilla was arrested on drug charges, and police seized a bunch of his property and $50,000 in cash. After Brilla did his time, he went to court to get his property back. When the property was not produced, Brilla sued, and then-District Attorney John Pettit was found personally liable for failing to return Brilla’s stuff. In 2003, county Commissioners Diana Irey and John Bevec voted to bail Pettit out and pay the judgment, but controller Michael Namie balked. A legal battle ensued, but in the meantime, Pettit came up with the $75,176 he needed to pay the estate of Brilla, who had since been murdered. That’s a whole 'nother story that Pettit would rather forget. Anyway, Pettit said he put in a little of the cash, but most of the money came from about two dozens of his friends. And he was very clear that there were no strings attached to the money they gave him. Said Pettit in August 2004, "It’s important what we call these funds: They are gifts, not loans. We researched it, and an individual can give another individual up to $11,000 a year without any tax indication." Pettit has never identified the friends who showered him with cash. Fast-forward to 2008, and Pettit has finally prevailed in his legal battle with the county, with the commissioners deciding to end their appeals and pay the former DA about $140,000 to cover the Brilla judgment and Pettit's legal bills. Just one problem for Pettit. He's also embroiled in a divorce action brought by his wife, Sandra, who wants a chunk of the $140,000 for herself. This is where it gets interesting. John Pettit now claims that the money he raised from friends back in 2004 came in the form of loans that he has to repay. So, it appears that the gifts were only gifts until the point at which Pettit got his hands on enough of someone else's money (our tax dollars) to pay back his pals. It should make for some interesting explanations when the divorce case goes back before Judge Janet Moschetta Bell on April 3. Stay tuned.


Blogger Monique Ringling said...


March 28, 2008 at 11:23 AM  
Blogger Brant said...

I don't know what that means, but thank you, I guess.

March 28, 2008 at 1:56 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

I think that means Monique is laughing her friggin' butt off.

March 28, 2008 at 3:09 PM  
Blogger Amanda Gillooly said...

That was some beautiful writing, my friend. You're ability to bring Pettit and the "Beverly Hillbilly's" theme song together made me, once again, almost wet myself. Can you call me Grasshopper?

March 28, 2008 at 9:04 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

Of course, Grasshopper.

March 28, 2008 at 9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least Pettit was a DA who actually, you know, knew his way around a courtroom. Toprani appears to be afraid of doing anything more than sitting in the back of the room with his buddy.

April 3, 2008 at 12:22 PM  
Blogger Brant said...

I have no firsthand knowledge of Mr. Toprani's courtroom skills, but if he can successfully administer that office and put the people in place who can successfully prosecute criminals, what more could we really ask of him? It isn't necessary that he personally handles these cases. It's much preferable to having a DA who subverts justice and railroads innocent people just to secure a conviction. Mr. Toprani has been in office about three months. I think he needs to be given a chance to operate the office his way, and we'll know soon enough if he is succeeding.

April 3, 2008 at 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toprani seems like a nice enough guy, but the general consensus seems to be that the office was actually run better--if you can believe it--under Pettit. Thus far, Toprani has done little more than hire his buddies and, as the previous poster said, sit in the back of the courtroom.

April 7, 2008 at 8:52 AM  

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