Charges against former city retirement board members dismissed

A federal judge Wednesday dismissed charges against five former members of the San Diego retirement board, saying the honest services fraud law under which they were charged was a “model of vagueness.”

Ronald Saathoff, former head of the city firefighters union, was originally indicted in January 2006 on wire fraud, mail fraud and conspiracy charges, along with pension board members Cathy Lexin and Teresa Webster, former pension system administrator Lawrence Grissom and ex-pension board attorney Loraine Chapin.

A superseding indictment in 2008 alleged the five schemed to have the retirement board pass a plan in 2002 to underfund the pension system.

Prosecutors contended the defendants supported a city plan to put less money into the retirement system for enhanced benefits and a special retirement benefit for Saathoff.

The judge overseeing the case, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez, ruled Wednesday that the defendants were charged under a “novel, untested” application of the vague mail and wire fraud honest services statutes for carrying out pension fund business.

“A reasonable person of ordinary intelligence would not have known that what the defendants were doing violated the federal mail and wire fraud statutes,” the judge wrote in his 28-page ruling.

“Under our Constitution, people are not to be punished for `violating an unknowable something,’” he said.

Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court dismissed conflict-of interest charges against several former pension board members, including Lexin and Webster. The state’s high court, however, did not dismiss charges against Saathoff.

Related posts:

  1. Judge rejects SD City Employees’ Retirement System lawsuit
  2. Seal judge dismissed, hearing postponed
  3. Local man faces fraud charges
  4. SD Superior Court judge admonished publicly
  5. Hauze pleads not guilty in Solana Beach-based Ponzi scheme case

Short URL:

Posted by on Apr 7, 2010. Filed under Archives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply



Bottom Buttons 1

Bottom Buttons 2

Bottom Buttons 3

Bottom Buttons 4

Bottom Buttons 5

Bottom Buttons 6



  • Athletes welcome to La Jolla Cove’s Triathlon Challenge
    Registration is underway for the San Diego Triathlon Challenge Oct. 19 at La Jolla Cove, where 200 challenged and 550 able-bodied athletes will compete in a one-mile ocean swim, 44-mile bike ride and 10-mile run to fund adaptive athletic equipment. […]
  • Everything You Need to Know about Smart TVs
    By Otto Benson, Modern Home Systems Everything seems to be going smart these days, and that now includes our television sets.  But if you’re wondering if it is wise to go smart with your entertainment system, here are answers to all the essential questions. What is a smart TV? “Smart TVs”, or what used to […]
  • Murfey Construction to build apartments in Hillcrest and Famosa Townhomes in Point Loma areas of San Diego
    Murfey Construction is ready to break ground in September 2014 for a five-story apartment building that will house 36 “luxury” apartments on the corner of Washington Street and Eighth Avenue in Hillcrest. “They are our main focus now,” said sales manager Jesse Lyons. […]