(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) - The defense attorney for a restaurant owner accused of Corrupt Business Influence, Fraud, and Identity Deception wants the judge on the case removed.
Adolfo Lopez and his wife Maria own or co-own several Acapulco’s Mexican Restaurant locations in southeast Indiana. The establishments were raided by Indiana Excise Police September 24. Over 100 arrests were made of the owners and their employees.
Lopez has pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces. He remains held in Dearborn County’s jail on $3 million surety bond and $250,000 cash bond after an earlier request for a lower bond was denied November 21 by Dearborn Circuit Court Judge James D. Humphrey.
Lopez’s defense attorney Doug Garner filed a motion on Monday titled “Motion for Removal of Judge James D. Humphrey Because He is Biased in Favor of the Dearborn County Prosecutor, Aaron Negangard.”
Garner’s motion asks that Humphrey grant a change of judge in the case or recuse himself so that a special judge can be appointed.
“Judge Humphrey acquiesced or participated in a procedure employed by Mr. Negagnard to use bond as a tool of law enforcement to obtain statements from co-defendants Mr. Negangard would have been otherwise unable to obtain,” Garner’s motion states. Three former Acapulco’s employees who had been arrested and released on bond testified on behalf of the state during a November 15 bond hearing.
The motion alleges that Humphrey has ceded control of who is released on bond in the Acapulco’s case to Negangard. In an affidavit attached to the motion, Garner listed reasons backing his argument.
Garner said during Adolfo and Maria Lopez’s initial hearing on September 25 he approached the bench and observed a hand-written chart listing the bonds set for the Lopezes and other co-owners.
“Counsel reasonably believes the Court determined the amounts of those bonds prior to the initial hearing,” Garner stated in the affidavit.
Another allegation made is that many of the co-defendants in the Acapulco’s case had their bonds set or reduced only after waiving their Fifth Amendment rights and providing statements to the prosecutor.
Gardner said the “facts suggest the prosecutor is determining which defendants are being released on bond in the Acapulco Cases and the judge of this Court is assisting with the prosecutor’s use of pretrial incarceration to force the waiver of constitutional rights.” He added that a defendant waiving their constitutional rights is not an appropriate factor in setting bond, under Indiana law.
The motion for the judge’s removal also states that Humphrey was a victim in a recent case that Negangard prosecuted. Blogger Dan Brewington is serving a five year sentence for convictions of Intimidation of a Judge, Intimidation, Attempt to Commit Obstruction of Justice, and Perjury.
Brewington, who had a child custody case in Humphrey’s court, was convicted in October 2011 when Negangard convinced a jury that Brewington’s Internet blog writings were meant to intimidate Humphrey and his wife.
Humphrey and Negangard each attended an Indiana Court of Appeals oral argument in Brewington’s case held the morning of November 21 in Indianapolis. That afternoon Humphrey issued a ruling to uphold Adolfo Lopez’s high bond.
Garner referenced prior Indiana case law stating that the issue is not whether the judge believes himself to be impartial, but whether a reasonable person aware of all the circumstances would question the judge’s impartiality.
Eagle 99.3 News sent Negangard an e-mail inviting him to respond to Garner’s motion on Monday afternoon. A response was not received as of the publication time of this article.