D.A. recuses self from case after salacious court filing
ST. FRANCISVILLE – A lengthy motion to have District Attorney Sam D’Aquilla recused from prosecuting another attorney paints a dirty picture of a small-town political scandal – ranging from favors for family to destroying evidence and a federal investigation.
The motion, filed Monday, asks to have D’Aquilla removed from the case against David Opperman, his political adversary and wife’s former attorney.
Opperman was arrested last December, accused of molesting a teenage girl in 2003.
Opperman, who has argued the allegations are unfounded, also ran for district attorney against D’Aquilla in 2014 and lost.
Opperman’s attorney asked that D’Aquilla be recused from prosecuting the case because of the pair’s “long animosity towards each other” and that “D’Aquilla’s personal interest will surely conflict with the fair and impartial admiration of justice,” Opperman’s attorney Jim Boren wrote.
> NEW: D'Aquilla recused himself from the case Thursday, days after the court filing and the original report on WBRZ.com and the 10 o'clock news.
"Some prosecutors have the view, ready, shoot, aim," Opperman's attorney Jim Boren said. "I don't think that's fair. If you are going to be arrested with a life altering allegation, you should be brought in and asked your side of the story. What evidence do you have that this person is telling the truth. That never happened, and now it will."
In the court document, Opperman’s legal team spells out the case against him as retaliation.
The court filing accuses D’Aquilla of having a sexual relationship with the former coroner, Laura DeJohn.
Opperman, his attorney said, represents the new coroner and poses a threat to D’Aquilla as he uncovers the “schemes and crimes of the former coroner, DeJohn.”
DeJohn pleaded not guilty to malfeasance in office, criminal conspiracy, and injuring public documents in June. DeJohn is accused of failing to keep records and submitting fraudulent billing invoices for unlicensed medical services.
“D’Aquilla has a personal interest in prosecuting [David Opperman] by seeing to it that he does not investigate the DeJohn matter more to discover D’Aquilla’s possible involvement,” Boren said in court records obtained by the WBRZ Investigative Unit.
D’Aquilla and DeJohn have been videotaped together – most recently while leaving court, D’Aquilla escorted DeJohn from a WBRZ television camera.
Court records outline that the district attorney admitted to his wife his relationship with DeJohn. Opperman was privy to the coroner and district attorney’s tryst because he was the attorney for D’Aquilla’s wife, Kelly, when she considered filing for divorce.
Opperman shared the information with federal authorities in a two-hour meeting with the FBI. The meeting focused on “domestic abuse of Kelly, sexual affairs and planting of evidence,” according to the court filing.
After his arrest, FBI agents distanced themselves from Opperman, his attorney said. Boren believes that was D’Aquilla’s intention.
A potential federal investigation “gives D’Aquilla a personal interest in the arrest and prosecution.”
D’Aquilla’s also accused of destroying DNA that ties his bloodline to a man convicted of sexual crimes against children. D’Aquilla orchestrated a sweetheart plea deal where the man only received a three-year sentence, Boren claimed.
In addition to the official court filing, Boren included nearly 80 pages of other records he argues support the claims against D’Aquilla.
> CLICK HERE to read the court filing
Opperman is scheduled to be arraigned on the molestation charges Thursday morning. At the hearing, D'Aquilla recused himself from the case. The state attorney general will make a decision on who will prosecute Opperman.
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