Kimberly Blough 6:28 p.m., March 9
Moores's Personal Attorney Named to High Justice Department Post
Charles La Bella, one-time personal attorney for former majority Padres owner John Moores, has joined the fraud section of the Department of Justice as a deputy chief assisting on cases being investigated and prosecuted on the West Coast, a Justice Department official said today. La Bella spent 16 years as a government fraud prosecutor, and was a U.S. attorney in San Diego, as well as chief of the criminal division in San Diego.
Then La Bella went into private practice. He got Moores off the hook in a federal investigation of gifts he had showered on former councilmember Valerie Stallings when he was angling for a ballpark subsidy, and she was one of his key supporters. Moores had been chairman of Peregrine Systems, which turned out to be one of San Diego's largest frauds. When federal investigators were looking into how sales had been inflated at Peregrine Systems, Moores said to a colleague, "I wonder if Peregrine should bring in Chuck La Bella." Moores had dumped $487 million worth of his stock during the period the fraud was committed, and $650 million, almost all he controlled, during the life of the company. La Bella quarterbacked a study of the Peregrine fraud by the law firm of Latham & Watkins. The creditors' committee in Peregrine's bankruptcy called the Latham & Watkins study "a whitewash." Matthew Gless, a Peregrine executive and close Moores associate, who confessed to his role in the fraud, testified that, "the Latham & Watkins report was designed to cover for the board of directors," according to San Diego lawyer Eugene Iredale, a defense lawyer in the government's fraud case.
The Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer in charge of the Peregrine investigation praised the Latham & Watkins study. Then he joined Latham & Watkins.