Swiss officials have told U.S. authorities that Roman Polanski likely will be extradited to Los Angeles to face sentencing for a 31-year-old crime, according to email records released by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Polanski, 76, is the internationally famous director of such films as “Chinatown” and “Rosemary’s Baby.” Last month he was arrested at Zurich’s airport on a fugitive warrant, after had fled the U.S. three decades ago in advance of his sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. Polanski has argued that the judge in the case was corrupt. He’s moved about openly in Europe since then, and even owns a home in the Swiss resort of Gstaad. Questions have been raised about the timing of the arrest, and whether Switzerland was trying to placate the U.S. after spurning its demands to turn over the names of suspected tax cheats with accounts at Swiss bank UBS AG.
Justice Department officials and Swiss justice officials discussed the extradition in an Oct. 5 conversation, The LA Times reported. In referring to the conversation, Diana Carbajal, a deputy district attorney in the extradition services department, in an email to her supervisor earlier this month wrote, “While the Swiss officials cannot speak for the judge, the extradition will likely be ordered based upon the facts submitted in our papers,” The LA Times reported.
Last week, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office sent a package summarizing the case to DOJ officials in Washington, D.C., which they are expected to pass along to Swiss prosecutors.
According to Carbajal’s email, Swiss officials urged U.S. prosecutors to to address allegations of prosecutorial and judicial misconduct leveled by Polanski’s attorneys, The LA Times reported. Polanski is being represented by Steptoe & Johnson’s Reid Weingarten, a prominent criminal defense lawyer and close friend of Attorney General Eric Holder.
Meanwhile, it turns out that one of the Justice Department officials working on the matter is Nick Marsh, a former member of the Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) prosecution team. Marsh was moved out of the Public Integrity Section earlier this year after he and other Stevens prosecutors came under criminal contempt of court investigation for their handling of evidence.
Marsh landed at the DOJ’s Office of International Affairs, where he’s been dealing with the Swiss on the Polanski matter.
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Roman Polanski may have Hollywood on his side, but he’s not betting on Tinseltown to get him out the clink.
The prominent fugitive-director has hired Steptoe & Johnson’s Reid Weingarten, a well-known criminal defense lawyer and close friend of Attorney General Eric Holder.
Polanski, 76, was arrested last weekend at Zurich’s airport on a 31-year-old fugitive warrant issued after he skipped sentencing for having sex with a 13-year-old girl. The addition of Weingarten, who has known Holder since the two worked together in the department’s Public Integrity Section in the 1970s, means Polanski now has a powerful advocate in Washington.
The New York Times reports:
The recruiting of Mr. Weingarten was a strong signal that Mr. Polanski’s legal team intends to push hard on the Washington end of the case. Mr. Polanski was arrested on his way to the Zurich Film Festival after Swiss authorities received a letter from the Department of Justice requesting that he be held for possible extradition to the United States.
The Justice Department wrote the letter on behalf of Los Angeles prosecutors. Polanski fled the United States in 1978 after pleading guilty to having sex with a minor. As part of a plea agreement, he avoided other charges, including rape and sodomy. But he was never sentenced.
Weingarten, who declined to comment, will be instrumental in Polanski’s efforts to stop the extradition before the issue wends through the Swiss legal system. As the Times notes, Polanski could argue that his crime does not qualify, because he was sentenced to less than a year in prison, or that he effectively served his sentence during a 42-day psychiatric evaluation.
Weingarten advised Holder during the confirmation process, and he represented Holder in congressional hearings that explored the then-Deputy Attorney General’s role in the controversial pardon by President Clinton of fugitive financier Marc Rich. Weingarten also helped Holder in the founding of the See Forever Foundation, which helps disadvantaged children.