District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer testifies in Leticia Perez conflict of interest case

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Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer testified Friday during a preliminary hearing in Supervisor Leticia Perez’s conflict of interest case. Perez faces two misdemeanor conflict of interest charges relating to her ties to the marijuana industry.

Zimmer was called to testify by Perez’s attorneys, who attempted to prove former District Attorney Lisa Green prosecuted Perez out of political retaliation for her support of Zimmer during the 2018 race for district attorney between Zimmer and Scott Spielman .

Perez’s attorney, H.A. Sala, called witnesses in hopes of proving former D.A. Green, who endorsed Spielman during the election, brought the conflict of interest charges against Perez to retaliate against Perez for supporting Zimmer during the election.

Zimmer testified, in part, about Perez’s role in Zimmer’s campaign, noting Perez was not formally involved nor did Perez ever publicly endorse Zimmer.

She spoke about one instance in which at least four members from Green’s office attended Zimmer’s campaign kick off event. Green later confronted the employees in anger because they had attended the event, according to Zimmer.

Another witness, private investigator Dean Tarricone, said an employee during an internal interview recalled a luncheon in which Green privately told some of the D.A. staff who had just door-knocked for Zimmer that many homeowners now have cameras attached to door bells. Green then reportedly said she was “100 percent” in support of Spielman for district attorney.

It is the theory of Perez’s defense that Green later filed the charges because she was angry Perez supported Zimmer, but Prosecutors Friday maintained Green never prosecuted anyone based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or political beliefs.

It has been more than a year since the D.A.’s office charged Perez with two conflict of interest misdemeanors regarding her husband’s ties to the marijuana industry while Perez was the lone supervisor to vote to legalize medicinal cannabis back in 2017.

Judge Thomas Clark said he will decide by Monday whether to institute a court order to obtain any evidence on the matter. If obtained, the defense could use the evidence in trial to attempt to prove Perez’s prosecution was brought about for political retaliation.

Clark is expected to make that decision on Monday.

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