David Dodd 2:33 a.m., May 19
On Eve of Lerach Bash, Ex-Wife and Friends Give Big to Anti-Death Penalty Drive
As the anti-death penalty party to be thrown by once-imprisoned La Jolla lawyer Bill Lerach draws near, some other well-heeled San Diego attorneys are also opening their checkbooks in support of the cause.
As noted earlier, Lerach and his current wife, lawyer Michelle Ciccarelli, are set to stage the party this coming Saturday, July 28, on their oceanview estate. Hollywood's Mike Farrell and Shelley Fabares, along with other California luminaries, including Oscar nominee James Oliver Cromwell and former San Quentin warden Jeanne Woodford, are scheduled to attend.
An invitation to the fundraiser notes that "a more intimate discussion" about capital punishment will take place over a yet more exclusive dinner this Friday, to be held at an undisclosed location at an unrevealed price.
Funds raised will benefit Taxpayers for Public Safety, the political committee backing Proposition 34 on the November ballot, a measure that would replace capital punishment in the state with life sentencing without the possibility of parole.
Now, according to a campaign disclosure filing posted online yesterday by the California Secretary of State's office, Lerach's ex-wife, attorney Star Soltan of Rancho Santa Fe, has written a check for $15,000. The same day, July 17, San Diego attorney Darren Robbins of Robbins, Geller, Rudman and Dowd LLP, gave the effort $20,000. The day before, attorney Mary Blasy of Scott & Scott LLP contributed $10,000, the report says.
Another July 17 donor was New York's Atlantic Advocacy Fund, an arm of Atlantic Philanthropies, set up by billionaire Charles "Chuck" Feeney, who made a fortune with Duty Free Shoppers.
Atlantic gave the anti-death penalty drive $500,000.
According to Atlantic's website, "Mr. Feeney owns neither a home nor a car. He still travels constantly—often in economy class—and is well known for wearing a $15 watch."
No word on whether he'll stop by the Lerach estate for Saturday's party.