Eva Knott 7:43 p.m., April 15
Judge Dumps Criminal Pension Charges
U.S. District Court Judge Roger Benitez yesterday (April 6) dismissed fraud charges against five former San Diego pension system members who had been charged in 2006 with violations of the honest services fraud law. It was not surprising: Benitez had expressed skepticism about the government's case. Also, Benitez has always been quite easy on fraud defendants; some of his rulings in the civil cases against John Moores were utterly laughable. The former pension employees were Ron Saathoff, once one of the most powerful backstage operators in San Diego politics; Terri Webster, Lori Chapin, Cathy Lexin and Lawrence Grissom. Said the judge, "Due process forbids turning citizens into criminals through the application of novel, untested applications of a criminal statute."