Monday, May 10, 2010

DA may examine Leary’s personnel file, judge rules;
Ex-sheriff’s honcho’s fraud trial set for June 29

Prosecutors may inspect former Sacramento County sheriff’s lieutenant Michael P. Leary’s personnel file the defense told a superior court judge Monday in a lightning-quick hearing Monday.

With that detail out of the way, prosecutor Michael Blazina and defense attorney William Portanova told Sacramento County Superior Court Judge Gary E. Ransom they were set to go for a trial readiness conference scheduled for June 8.

Leary was present at the hearing, but made no statements.

His trial on multiple felony counts arising from a disputed property transfer is scheduled to begin June 29. Both Blazina and Portanova avoided making any predictions whether a pre-trial settlement might be in the works.

Leary, who is also a former Elk Grove City Council member, faces four criminal allegations stemming from a disputed transfer of title for a house at 3301 Marina Cove Circle, Elk Grove, which was purchased for $610,000.

Leary, 49, was arrested and arraigned in October 2009 on charges of grand theft fraud and forgery stemming from the troubled property transfer between himself and his former live-in girlfriend Alyc K. Maselli in 2006.

Leary pleaded not guilty to all charges. If convicted, he faces up to 12 years in state prison and a fine of $75,000. He remains free on bail.

The case – People v. Leary, #09F07685 – has been tied up for six months with hearings on various pre-trial motions.

After his arrest, Leary left the Sheriff’s Department where he served for 27 years. His last rank and post was as a lieutenant serving as the jail watch commander.

Leary had served on the Elk Grove City Council for 10 years before losing a re-election bid. Prior to that, he had served as Elk Grove’s community services director.

Leary’s current situation has been described by his attorney, Portanova, as the sort of misunderstanding that can occur when a non-lawyer tries to manage his own division of property during a marital break-up.

This is not the first time Leary has been embroiled in an Elk Grove controversy in recent years.

He and sheriff’s Capt. Jim Cooper – who is now running for county sheriff – were chastised by the 2004-2005 Sacramento County Grand Jury for allegedly abusing of their official positions.

The two were sworn peace officers with the sheriff’s department and elected officials on the Elk Grove City Council at the time.

The grand jury concluded they had acted improperly when they both voted on a contract for the county sheriff’s department to provide police services for the city.

The grand jury also publicly criticized the pair for allegedly bullying the city manager and the police chief of Elk Grove.

Leary’s current woes trace back to 2005 when he and Maselli together purchased the property in question, according to statements asserted in a court affidavit.

On the initial purchase documents only Leary’s name appeared on the deed, but some five months later the deed was changed to add Maselli’s name and the two described as “joint tenants.”

Things later became complicated when Leary allegedly altered the deed by doctoring the deed with handwritten notes to indicate he owned 90 percent of the home, allegedly without telling Maselli about the changes.

Maselli lived alone in the home alone, made her portion of the mortgage payments, paid her half the property taxes and wrote off half the interest on her taxes, the court documents state.

Maselli made her payment by check, the court affidavit further stated, while Leary allegedly paid his portion in cash to avoid a paper trail that could force him to pay increased additional child support payments to an ex-wife.

Leary and Maselli were slated to marry, but they broke up in early 2008, court documents indicated.

Maselli subsequently missed mortgage payments and the dispute about their home ownership deal deteriorated into acrimony, with Leary eventually seeking to evict her from the property.

Legal actions ensued.

by Tom Nadeau for the Elk Grove News


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