Former prosecutor who asked police sergeant to fix seat belt ticket gets probation, volunteer work
SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A former county prosecutor who asked a San Diego police sergeant to fix a seat belt ticket she got while riding with a fellow prosecutor in Pacific Beach was sentenced Friday to three years probation and ordered to perform 200 hours of volunteer work.
Allison Debow, also known as Allison Worden, resigned from the District Attorney's Office last month after being convicted of conspiracy to obstruct justice and other misdemeanor counts. She was not in court today and was represented by her attorney, Paul Pfingst.
Debow avoided jail time, but the crime will be reported to the State Bar of California, which could suspend her license to practice law.
Deputy Attorney General Mike Murphy, called the case against Debow "disheartening."
"As an officer of the court, as a lawyer, as a public official, as a public prosecutor, you take an oath to uphold the law," Murphy told reporters.
"You're held to a very high standard by the courts, and they expect you to abide by that standard both in court and out of court. That is to ensure that people have confidence that the system is going to be run by people with integrity and they are going to be equal with their application of the law," he said. "Obviously, in a case like this where someone conspires to undermine -- to obstruct justice -- the very system we're working in, that's problematic, and it is a direct betrayal of all those responsibilities."
Before sentencing was pronounced, Judge Louis Hanoian denied a defense motion for a new trial and a motion to dismiss the case, which he called "serious."
"She's (Debow) held to a higher standard," the judge said.
Debow, 37, faced up to a year in jail. Had she accepted the ticket, she would have had to pay a $142 fine as a first-time adult offender, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety.
The veteran prosecutor testified that she used "poor judgment" by telling the officer who issued the tickets to her and fellow prosecutor Amy Maund that they were deputy district attorneys.
The defendant said she told investigators from her office that she believed her friend, Sgt. Kevin Friedman, had dismissed the tickets.
"Mrs. Debow believes, and still maintains, that she told the officer (Friedman) not to do anything about the ticket. The jury disbelieved her," Pfingst said after today's sentencing.
"She will have to live with that, but it does not change her position that she called the officer who got rid of the tickets and told him not to do it," Pfingst said. "He did it out of a misplaced sense of friendship, and she is bearing the consequences of that."
Friedman told investigators that he didn't get rid of the citations, and an attorney representing Debow told her that a police official higher up the chain of command probably deleted the tickets from the system.
Murphy said Debow was a passenger in a car driven by friend and fellow prosecutor Maund, who was pulled over on May 28, 2011, because Debow didn't have her seat belt on. The two had just had pedicures.
Debow became angry when the officer issued them both citations and called her friend Friedman, Murphy told the jury. Within six hours, the tickets were out of the system, according to the prosecutor.
During the traffic stop, Debow told the officers that she and Maund were deputy district attorneys and didn't violate any laws.
Pfingst said the officer who issued the citations acted inappropriately by leaning into the car on Debow's side and invading her personal space.
Friedman, who was also charged in the case, pleaded no contest last May to destroying a traffic citation and later resigned from the department and moved to Arizona. He did not testify at Debow's trial.