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    D.A. tells Matt Dies that the U.S. Attorney in L.A. has referred the Lois Capps “Matter” to The DOJ’s Public Integrity Section

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    By Peter Lance © 2014. May 16th. After weeks of promising Matt Dies, father of Mallory Rae Dies, the victim of a December, 2013  DUI hit-and-run, that she would ask the Feds to investigate the findings uncovered in my 5 part series for The News-Press, Santa Barbara D.A. Joyce Dudley today informed Mr. Dies by email that U.S. Attorney André Briotte, Jr. had referred the “Matter’ to the Public Integrity Section at Main Justice.  “I just got off the phone with Andre Birotte, Mrs. Dudley wrote, referencing the U.S. Attorney for The Central District of California who was recently nominated for a Federal Judgeship. “Mr. Birotte informed me that the Matter has now been referred to the Public Integrity Division for their analysis.” 

    As noted on the DOJ’s website: “The Public Integrity Section (PIN) oversees the federal effort to combat corruption through the prosecution of elected and appointed public officials at all levels of government.” Today’s disclosure by Mrs. Dudley was the culmination of a campaign by Mr. Dies which began on May 1st. At that time, the non-profit set up in his daughter’s memory had collected more than 1,000 signatures asking Mrs. Capps to come clean about my findings and for the D.A. to call for an outside Special Prosecutor.

    In response Mrs. Dudley sent some information on the case to Mr. Birotte, including my News Press series which ran from April 13th-17th and the civil complaint filed in Federal District Court the next day (April 18th) by attorney Robert Stoll. His firm, Stoll, Nussbaum & Polakov, is representing the Dies family in a suit for wrongful death stemming from the December manslaughter hit-and-run by Raymond Victor Morua III who ran down Ms. Dies as she was crossing toward EOS Lounge on the 500 block on Anacapa Street. At the time of the accident Mr. Morua, a decorated Iraq War veteran, was one of four District Representative’s for Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA).

    As I documented in the series, Mrs. Capps staff went to extraordinary efforts to protect Mr. Morua in the days following the accident, but on December 11th, after Ms. Dies was taken off life support, they did a 180 degree turn and began taking the position that he was not working for the congresswoman at the time of the crash. The consequence of that reversal in civil legal terms meant that the Dies family would be denied any real chance of recovering damages for Mallory’s death.

    On April 3rd, 2014 President Obama nominated Mr. Birotte to a federal judgeship in Los Angeles. Since he will have to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, it was unlikely, politically, that he would would have pursued any new investigation into a Member of Congress like Lois Capps. So today’s disclosure that he’d referred the matter to The Public Integrity Section at Justice takes the onus off the U.S. Attorney of having to undertake such a politically sensitive investigation.

    In the past several queries by editors from The News-Press to Mr. Birotte’s press spokesman Thom Mrozek have resulted in “no comments.” So late this afternoon I asked Mr. Mrozek in writing to confirm the referral as reported by Mrs. Dudley and to furnish the name of the “point person” at DOJ who will be looking into the referral.


    In my email to Mr. Mrozek I summarized the finding in my News-Press investigation, citing three potential “cover-ups” or “obstructions of justice.”

     1) The refusal of Mrs. Capps and her staff to admit that Mr. Morua was acting in the course & furtherance of his duties as her District Rep when he attended a holiday party thrown by The Independent the night of December 5th and drank six vodkas before getting into his Dodge Caliber with a BAC of .17. Series Parts Two & Four. 
    This aspect of the obstruction included false statements made by Mollie Culver, Mrs. Capps District Director, to Sgt. JayCee Hunter, the lead detective investigating the case for the Santa Barbara Police Department. (SBPD) during an interview on December 13th, 2013 following his service of a search warrant on. Mrs. Capps local office here.
    2) Ms. Culver’s reported forgery of Mr. Morua’s name on two Dept. of Veterans Affairs forms: FORM: 10-5345: a request for release of his medical records to Mrs. Capps office and FORM: 10-10 EZ: an Application for Medical Benefits.  As I reported, Ms. Culver filled out these forms and reportedly signed Mr. Morua’s name on December 9th, 2013, three days after the accident at 12:04 a.m.  and either sent them herself (or suborned Teresa Montoya, Mr. Morua’s fiancé, an innocent party) to send them to the VA’s Desert Pacific Network in Long Beach, CA in an effort to get Mr. Morua out of jail and into a treatment facility while Ms. Dies was still alive.
    This exercise in damage control is proof-positive that at the time Ms. Culver filled out the forms in Mr. Morua’s name she and Mrs. Capps D.C. office staff which cooperated in the conspiracy, believed Mr. Morua to have been “on the job” for Mrs. Capps at the time of the accident and thus deserving of their help.
    Then, within hours of Ms. Dies being taken off life support at 3:15 p.m. on December 11th, Mrs. Capps office, per her press secretary Chris Meagher and others, reversed that position, claiming that Mr. Morua was at The Independent’s “Holiday Bash” on his own volition and falsely reporting that he’d been fired on Sunday, December 8th, when I have U.S. House pay records proving that he was being paid through mid-day December 10th.
    When I attempted to learn the truth from Craig Lea, the VA’s Re-entry specialist to whom Ms. Culver had the two forms sent, he started to cooperate and then, over the next few days the VA circled the wagons in what has now clearly become a second cover-up or obstruction.
    On April 4th, in an effort to verify my findings, Mr. Lea made a 300 mile round-trip from Long Beach to Santa Barbara County Jail where he confirmed from Mr. Morua that those were not his signatures on the two forms. But the V.A. has since retreated into “no comment” mode. Not only would the release of Mr. Morua’s medical files under his forged signature constitute a major HIPAA violation but the second form (10-10EZ) has, on its face, a warning that any concealment of “a material fact or making a materially false statement” can, under 18 USC 1001 result in a fine and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years. Parts Four & Five.
    3) The third cover-up/obstruction is perhaps most disturbing, because it suggests an attempt at evidence tampering by Mary Beth Walker, the lawyer from the Office of General Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives who is representing Mrs. Capps and her staff. Ms. Walker was the first to notify counsel for Mr. Dies (in a December 23rd, 2013 letter) that it was the OGC’s position that Mr. Morua was “at all relevant times” acting “in his personal capacity” in the period prior to the crash.
    This is where D.A. Joyce Dudley comes into the story. On January 2nd, 2014 Ms. Walker sent Mrs. Dudley a letter asking her to “segregate” what Ms. Walker termed “sensitive official information” from Mr. Morua’s iPhone 4 — his office cell — one of two iPhones seized by the SBPD after his arrest. In that letter Ms. Walker made an assertion that she couldn’t possible support given what she knew at the time: i.e. that the “information” on that iPhone 4 was “almost certainly unrelated to the State’s case against Mr. Morua.” Later when I pressed Mrs. Dudley on whether or not she or her office had acquiseced to Ms. Walker’s request — which could amount to evidence tampering — she made this astonishing admission:  “To answer your question, and to my knowledge, the DAs office has not done anything with the cellphone records. I can’t speak to what the SBPD may have done or will do.”
    Mrs. Dudley was effectively admitting that as chief law enforcement officer in Santa Barbara County, she didn’t have control over the chain of evidence in this Watson Murder case. Further, when I examined downloads from the iPhone 4 and Mr. Morua’s personal iPhone 3s made by the SBPD I was unable to locate one key text that I had independently confirmed he’d sent to his fiancé within two minutes of the crash: “Baby, I’m done.” I also found additional evidence to suggest that content on Mr. Morua’s iPhone 3 may be missing, following the SBPD’s download of both phones on December 6th.
    So the question that any prosecutor seeking to confirm my findings would rightfully ask is this: did a lawyer for the U.S. House’s Office of General Counsel engage in obstruction of justice with regard to key evidence in defense of its civil case and did the Santa Barbara D.A. or the SBPD cooperate? Since my email to Mr. Mrozek was sent to him late in the day Friday afternoon I don’t expect to hear back from him until Monday. As soon as I do I’ll report his findings on this website.



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