PALM SPRINGS — Former Mayor Steve Pougnet said he is pleased that a Riverside County Superior Court judge determined to make public about 800 pages of the grand jury transcripts that led to an indictment against him.
“The previously sealed proceedings show that the case against (me) is based on mere speculation,” Pougnet told Uken Report. “Not a single witness testified that (I) ever received a bribe, or that (I) ever suggested to anyone else how they should vote.”
The transcripts were released earlier this month.
“The unsealed documents also show that had the DA chosen to actually present and discuss (my) 14-page letter and 200 pages of supporting exhibits (my) counsel had sent to the grand jury, the jury would have likely concluded that, similar to all the other members of the Palm Springs City Council, (I) received and reported income for work (I) actually performed outside of his public duties on the (City) Council.”
Pougnet’s statement begs the question as to why the District Attorney did not present or discuss his letter and supporting exhibits.
Malcolm Segal, Pougnet’s attorney, explained to Uken Report that the case was being scheduled for a preliminary hearing and the district attorney wasn’t quite fast enough. So, she decided to present the case directly to the grand jury and as part of that process, she by letter, invited the defense team to submit any information to the grand jury that it believed was exculpatory.
And, rather than present it to them, which ordinarily means that you tell the grand jury, ‘Here is what the defense has said, here are exhibits, do you what to discuss it?’ What she did was say, ‘It’s over there if you want to read it in what I considered to be a dismissive way,” Segal said in a telephone interview. “We believe that information was very important for the grand jury to consider because it demonstrated … that Steve Pougnet performed services, as did other city councilmembers, outside of his job as mayor. He was paid for those services and he reported them as being received from the person who paid.”
Pougnet is expected to be in court next on April 10. That is when a judge is scheduled to consider the defense’s motion to dismiss the case.
Segal said feels “good” about succeeding with his motion, because “I believe the law is on our side.”
Segal added, “When a jury gets the opportunity to hear all of the evidence from both sides he will be vindicated.” Segal has been named in “Best Lawyers in America” for the past 20 years.
Collectively, Pougnet, and developers John Wessman and Richard Meaney were indicted on 30 felony counts of bribery, perjury and conflict of interest in August 2019.
Pougnet, popular and charismatic, served as mayor from December 2007 to December 2015. Pougnet said he looks forward to the trial of this case and to his “complete vindication.”
- Malcom Segal: Malcom Segal
- Grand Jury: Shutterstock