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— Arizona officials have yanked the racing license of Jeremy Simms, the real estate magnate and ex-car dealer whose close connection to one-time Las Vegas casino owner and fellow La Jollan Allen Glick have raised questions about ties to organized crime, the Arizona Republic reports. Simms can continue to run Turf Paradise, a Phoenix-area horse-racing venue, while he appeals the ruling by the state's Department of Racing. Simms and a group of La Jolla investors had originally been granted a permit to operate the track in May 2000, but follow-up state investigations revealed that he had been involved with Glick in a series of $2.2 million loans. One-time Las Vegas casino owner Glick turned state's evidence and testified for the federal government against Mafia figures accused of skimming millions of dollars from his establishments. Simms was also a central figure in the bribery scandal that brought down state Senator Alan Robbins. That case involved efforts by Simms to get a state coastal permit for a lap pool at his oceanfront estate. In revoking the racing license from Simms, Arizona officials issued a statement saying that "In addition to Mr. Simms' relationship with Allen Glick, evidence, including statements made by Mr. Simms regarding his contact with 'underworld' figures, has emerged that Mr. Simms may also be involved with other organized crime figures."

Rigged To judge by the Union-Tribune's coverage, last week's elevation of Superior Court Judge Judith McConnell by Democratic Governor Gray Davis to the state appeals court met with unanimous approval. In a story about McConnell's confirmation by the state's Commission on Judicial Appointments, the U-T proclaimed that McConnell had been "heralded for breaking down barriers to women and making fair rulings." The paper quoted McConnell, as well as her supporters, including Attorney General Bill Lockyer and Fourth District appellate judge Richard Huffman, with heavy emphasis on her purported lack of bias. The story made no mention of any critics. But the Recorder, a San Francisco legal newspaper, told a different tale. It reported that Carla DiMare, an attorney at Flynn, Sheridan & Stillman in Del Mar, submitted a letter to the commission accusing the judge of "corruption, judicial misconduct and cronyism." "To elevate [McConnell]," DiMare was quoted as writing, "would be a tragedy for the state of California." DiMare, the paper reported, represented La Jolla New Age guru Deepak Chopra in a series of lawsuits that ended up in front of McConnell; his attorneys later alleged that McConnell and other members of the local bench had ruled against them as a result of their home town favoritism of certain law firms. "Although I know I will be further retaliated against if I testify and continue to practice law in San Diego," DiMare wrote in her letter, "I also know that the only way to rid the system of the bad judges is for attorneys to come forward to identify them." ... Last week's U-T announcement of the intention of Judge Bonnie Dumanis to run against D.A. Paul Pfingst made no mention of her status as one of America's few elected lesbian judges.

Brave New World As the sun set over the taxi cab lined up in front of downtown's Hyatt Regency hotel last week, a cabbie kneeled down on a small oriental rug he had pulled from the trunk of his cab, faced east, and began praying ... Richard Abbott, ex-director of development for the Hall of Champions accused of looting a New York guide dog charity of more than $167,000, has pleaded guilty to a second-degree charge of grand larceny. Abbott, who had also worked at the San Diego Museum of Art between 1985 and 1987, had worked as a fundraiser for the Hall of Champions for 14 months before submitting a letter of resignation on July 6. He was arrested there less than two weeks later ... The operator of a Tijuana cancer clinic has been arrested by police in Toronto, Canada, and accused of trafficking in prescription narcotics, the Toronto Star reports. Fifty-four-year-old Ravi Devgan is a Toronto resident who runs Natural Therapeutics Ltd. in Tijuana, specializing in "acupuncture, colon detoxification and photodynamic therapy." Before the arrest, the paper says, police seized 3000 tablets of opium-based painkillers said to be worth $33,000.

Contributor: Matt Potter

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