Monday, June 14, 2010

Perata Buddy Quits During SF Police Lab Scandal

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Jun 14, 2010 at 10:52 AM

Russ Giuntini, ex-state Senator Don Perata's choice for Alameda County district attorney, has abruptly retired from the San Francisco DA’s Office after getting caught up in San Francisco’s police crime lab scandal. According to the Chron, Giuntini had come under fire for failing to pass on key information about police civilian technician Deborah Madden, who allegedly had been stealing cocaine and other drugs from the crime lab for her personal use. Madden’s actions have caused numerous drug cases in San Francisco to unravel and could sabotage the campaign of SF DA Kamala Harris, who is the Democratic nominee for state attorney general.

Giuntini, who was Harris’ top deputy, not only failed to relay concerns about Madden expressed by San Francisco’s lead drug prosecutor, Sharon Woo, but he downplayed Madden’s actions as well:

Woo wrote that the situation at the understaffed drug lab was becoming "ridiculous" and that Madden's bosses feared she was intentionally sabotaging the lab's work.

But Giuntini made no mention of Woo's concerns about Madden in a subsequent e-mail to police officials. Instead, he touched on the lab understaffing and offered to tell Woo to prioritize prosecutors' requests for drug tests "so no needless lab time is expended."

Last year, Giuntini, a longtime close friend of Perata, had expressed strong interest in becoming Alameda County’s District Attorney when DA Tom Orloff retired. And despite getting Perata’s backing and support from other East Bay politicians, Giuntini was passed over by the Alameda County Board of Supervisors, who instead chose Orloff’s top deputy, Nancy O’Malley.

The board appears to have made a wise choice when it ignored Perata's lobbying efforts. After the SF police crime lab scandal broke, Giuntini, a former Alameda County prosecutor, decided not to run against O’Malley in the June Primary. O’Malley ran unopposed and won reelection. Giuntini is retiring June 30.

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