A county prosecutor was convicted Wednesday of conspiracy to obstruct justice and other misdemeanor counts for asking a San Diego police sergeant to fix a seat belt ticket she got while riding with a fellow prosecutor.
Allison Debow, also known as Allison Worden, faces up to a year in jail when she is sentenced Feb. 20. The veteran prosecutor with the San Diego County District Attorney's Office has been on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal case.
The defendant looked stern and stared straight ahead as the verdicts were read.
"Mrs. Debow is obviously devastated about the verdict," her attorney, Paul Pfingst, said outside court. "She never had any idea that any tickets were going to be destroyed."
District attorney's spokesman Steve Walker issued a statement saying, "The District Attorney's Office respects the jury's verdict and will take the appropriate action."
Besides the conspiracy count, Debow was convicted of two counts of alteration or destruction of a traffic citation. Jurors deliberated about a day before reaching their verdict.
The defendant testified that she used "poor judgment" by telling the officer who issued the tickets to her and fellow prosecutor Amy Maund that they were deputy district attorneys.
Debow, 37, said she received a letter of reprimand for her actions but was told her career was going to be OK.
The defendant said she told investigators from her office that she believed her friend, Sgt. Kevin Friedman, had dismissed the tickets.
Friedman told investigators that he didn't get rid of the citations, and an attorney representing Debow told her that a police official higher up the chain of command—possibly someone who knew her father, a former assistant chief—probably deleted the tickets from the system.
Deputy Attorney General Michael Murphy said Debow was a passenger in a car driven by friend and fellow prosecutor Maund, who was pulled over on May 28, 2011, in Pacific Beach because Debow didn't have her seat belt on. The two had just had pedicures.
Debow became angry when the officer issued them both citations and called her friend Friedman, Murphy told the jury. Within six hours, the tickets were out of the system, according to the prosecutor.
During the traffic stop, Debow told the officers that she and Maund were deputy district attorneys and didn't violate any laws.
"She (Debow) asked, 'Is there anything you can do for us?"' the prosecutor said.
Debow then said, "I'm going to call Kevin (Friedman)," Murphy told the jury.
When Maund told Debow they could lose their jobs over the incident, Debow replied, "You can blame it all on me if it ever comes up—which it never will," Murphy said.
Murphy said Debow gave a false statement to a deputy district attorney investigating the incident, telling him she never asked Friedman to do anything.
Maund testified that she was upset by Debow's actions.
"I was shocked about Ms. Debow using our titles (as deputy district attorneys)," Maund testified.
Pfingst said Debow released her seat beat for a moment so she could send a pre-written text message telling her husband that she was "en route" to meet him at a local bar, where he was watching a soccer match with friends.
Pfingst said the officer who issued the citations acted inappropriately by leaning into the car on Debow's side and invading her personal space.
Friedman, who was also charged in the case, pleaded no contest last May to destroying a traffic citation and later resigned from the department.
-City News Service