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Two San Diego Judges, Attorney Indicted in Corruption Case

April 11, 1996 GMT

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ Two former state judges and a prominent trial lawyer were indicted Wednesday on corruption charges involving nearly a decade of alleged bribes, kickbacks and favors.

Former Superior Court Judges G. Dennis Adams and James A. Malkus and lawyer Patrick Frega are named in the 18-count federal indictment that lists 163 crimes from 1983 to 1992.

``The charges depict a pattern of misconduct at odds with the concept of an impartial judiciary,″ said U.S. Attorney Alan Bersin, whose office will prosecute the case.

The charges grew out of an investigation begun more than four years ago by the state Commission on Judicial Performance into alleged improprieties on the San Diego bench.

Last month, former presiding Judge Michael Greer pleaded guilty to bribery charges after attempting suicide in January.

Prosecutors say Greer accepted about $75,000 from Frega in exchange for favorable rulings in cases that Frega brought before his court.

The indictment alleges that all three judges helped Frega prepare his witnesses for testimony in their courts.

In one instance, Frega represented an auto dealer, James J. Williams, in a case before Adams. Adams ruled in Williams’ favor, awarding him $5.1 million and attorney’s fees.

Prosecutors say Williams and Frega then used the dealership to kick back favors and money to the judge. Last month Williams pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.

The indictment also alleges Frega paid for the judges’ health club memberships, vacations, computers and groceries. Frega allegedly paid $1,713 to a ghostwriter for Adams, who planned to write a novel titled ``Bitter Triumph.″

Frega, who is free on $1.2 million bail, has pleaded innocent. Adams and Malkus were expected to surrender Thursday. They have indicated they will testify in their own defense if necessary, Bersin said.

``It’s just a relief to know that the rumors are over. We know what we’re being alleged to have done,″ said Mario Conte, Adams’ attorney.

Greer and Malkus resigned from the bench in 1993. Adams was removed from the bench by the state Supreme Court last year.