Judge Denies Defense Motions, Leary Criminal Trial to Move Forward

UPDATED 10:15 pm Former Elk Grove City Council member to stand trial In a preliminary hearing in Department 13 of the Sacramento Super...

UPDATED 10:15 pm

Former Elk Grove City Council member to stand trial

In a preliminary hearing in Department 13 of the Sacramento Superior Court this afternoon, Judge Raymond Cadei turned down defense motions to drop three of the four criminal charges against former Elk Grove City Council member and current Sacramento County Deputy Sheriff Mike Leary.

Leary was indicted last October on four criminal real estate fraud charges following a Sacramento County Sheriffs Department Internal Affairs investigation. That investigation came following a complaint by Leary’s former girlfriend, Alyc Maselli, that Leary forged documents in an attempt to defraud her of property they are said to have jointly owned.

In the three-plus hour hearing there was only one witness called, Detective Mark Freeman. A real estate fraud investigator for the sheriffs' department, Freeman conducted the investigation that led to Leary’s indictment.

Arguing the people’s case was Michael Blazina, supervisor of the Sacramento County District Attorney’s real estate fraud division. Blazina questioned Freeman how the allegations surfaced and the investigations findings.

Freeman said the investigation was initiated after Maselli’s attorney contacted the sheriffs’ department internal affairs claiming that Leary had altered a title filed with the Sacramento County Recorders office. The document, which was introduced as evidence, allegedly was altered by Leary to show he had a 90 percent stake in the property that is said to have initially showed equal joint-ownership.

Subsequent to that recording, Maselli is said to have signed over a 10 percent interest in the property to Leary following personal financial difficulties. In the complaint Maselli said she was under the impression she had equal joint ownership prior to relinquishing the 10 percent interest.

It is alleged that when Leary initially purchased the property in 2005 and placed it solely in his own name as part of 1031 exchange, it was understood that Maselli would be added to the title at a later point, which it was.

Leary’s defense attorney William Portanova questioned Freeman extensively regarding title fees that were waived when the property was purchased. The title work was performed at a by a title company that at the time employed Maselli as an office manager.

Portanova sought to demonstrate that although fees may have been waived because Maselli was an employee, it did not necessarily imply ownership. Freeman acknowledged that at least one employee at the title company believed the fees should not be waived because Maselli’s name was not on the initial title recorded.

Portanova also questioned Freeman regarding whether Maselli had sufficient documentation to substantiate her claims. Freeman acknowledged that Maselli lacked documentation to back some of her claims.

During his questioning, Portanova repeatedly sought to discredit Maselli and bolster his client. At one point Portanova referenced a 2008 unlawful detainer suit (case number 08UD13662) filed by Leary against Maselli whereby Portanova said Maselli reportedly admitted to not owning the property.

After both attorneys concluded arguments, Cadei denied Portanova’s request to drop three of the charges.

“The documents more than shows a suspicion that there was legal title transfer to her,” Cadei said. “I agree with the people on this.”

Leary will be arraigned in Department 8 of the Sacramento Superior Court at 1:30 pm on Thursday, March 11. A trial date will be set then.

Leary is currently on paid administrative leave from the sheriffs department.

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