updated 7/13/2004 9:15:09 AM ET 2004-07-13T13:15:09

Guest:  Dean Johnson, Gloria Allred, Trent Copeland, Trevor Potter, Stacey Honowitz, Anne Bremner, Joshua Berman, Mike Deguerin

DAN ABRAMS, HOST:  Coming up—why did Scott Peterson‘s girlfriend call police before his wife Laci disappeared?  Might the defense suggest Amber Frey was somehow involved in Laci‘s disappearance?  And the detective testifies he found bloodstains on the Peterson‘s bedspread—all the latest coming up. 

Plus, counterterrorism officials discuss postponing the election if terrorists try to disrupt it. 

And she‘s in prison because she had sex with her 12-year-old student.  Now he‘s 21.  They have two children.  But when Mary Kay Letourneau gets out next month, she won‘t be allowed to see him.  Can a judge do that? 

The program about justice starts now. 

ABRAMS:  Hi everyone.  First up on the docket, is the defense in the Scott Peterson case going to suggest that Peterson‘s girlfriend Amber Frey may have been involved in Laci‘s disappearance?  “The Modesto View” reporting that cell phone records show Amber Frey made at least three phone calls to the home of a Fresno police detective between December 21, 2002 and January 2, 2003.  Why is that significant? 

Well Laci Peterson went missing on December 24 and so the defense may ask why was Amber Frey calling a Fresno detective before Laci went missing if she didn‘t even know that Peterson was married?  Now remember, Amber lived in Fresno at the time and the prosecutor will say she knew the detective.  They were friends.  “The View” reports that Frey placed an almost hour long call to the detective‘s home on the night of December 21, just three days before Laci disappeared.  Frey contacted Modesto police six day after Laci was reported missing. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Amber Frey had contacted the Modesto Police Department on Monday, December 30, 2002.  She met with detectives and gave the information about the relationship with Scott Peterson. 

AMBER FREY, SCOTT PETERSON‘S FORMER GIRLFRIEND:  When I discovered he was involved in the Laci Peterson disappearance case, I immediately contacted the Modesto Police Department. 


ABRAMS:  And an application for a wiretap filed by a criminal investigator working on the case shows that police were concerned early on about Amber‘s possible involvement. 

Quote—“We believe these telephone conversations if intercepted, will show Scott Peterson‘s further involvement and possibly the involvement of Amber Frey in Laci Peterson‘s disappearance.”

Now, they cleared her officially in the case only a few days later.  We don‘t expect to see Amber on the stand this week, but we now believe she could be called next week.  Gloria Allred is Amber Frey‘s attorney.  Also joining me is former San Mateo County prosecutor Dean Johnson and defense attorney Trent Copeland.  You saw them in reverse order there.  Thanks to all of you for coming on the program.

All right, Dean, are you getting the sense that the defense is going to suggest that Amber Frey may have been involved in Laci‘s disappearance? 

DEAN JOHNSON, FMR. SAN MATEO COUNTY PROSECUTOR:  Well Mark Geragos has said all along as early—as late as a few weeks ago that he was going to suggest that Amber Frey might be involved.  It sounds like this just adds fuel to the fire.  I mean not only was Amber Frey talking to this homicide detective from Fresno on the 21st, but there is an indication that she may even have been with this officer on the 24th when Laci went missing. 

And interestingly enough after the phone call on the 21st, records suggest that Amber‘s next phone call was to Scott Peterson.  So you know—

I mean Mark Geragos has been blaming the devil cults, the neighbors, the transient, everybody he can point a finger at.  You know he‘s going to jump right on this and suggest yes that Amber Frey was involved. 

ABRAMS:  You know, Gloria, I know you have been reluctant to talk about evidence in this case, but you know this doesn‘t seem to me to be necessarily evidence and I would think you might want an opportunity here to defend your client. 

GLORIA ALLRED, AMBER FREY‘S ATTORNEY:  Well thank you, Dan.  It is going to be evidence in the case.  I would suspect that prosecutors will ask her about that and you know for Mark Geragos, Dan, to try to suggest that she was involved, especially after the facts come out on the witness stand I think will be just an example of his I made up my mind, don‘t confuse me with the facts approach if, in fact, he tries to discredit Amber Frey.  Because once she testifies and explain this, it will make a whole lot of sense to everybody.  And all I can say is I‘m very proud of everything that she said and did...

ABRAMS:  She...

ALLRED:  ... during the course of these events. 

ABRAMS:  Now, she was friends with this guy, right? 

ALLRED:  Well, I don‘t want to impinge on her testimony.  I think because I have respect for the jurors that they should hear it first, and they should hear it from Amber.  And so I‘m going to let her speak for herself from the witness stand. 

ABRAMS:  All right.  Well, Trent Copeland, she was friends with this guy.  I just was hoping that Gloria was going to say that for us officially.  Does this matter then?  Let‘s assume that this Fresno police officer is a friend of hers.  Let‘s assume—you know let‘s just assume it at that level for a moment.  And she calls him and they talk on the phone, et cetera.  Does that have an impact?  I mean would it have an impact if she had been having some sort of relationship with him and does it even matter? 

TRENT COPELAND, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well you know, Dan, I think first of all, you know for the prosecution‘s benefit, she better have been a friend of this detective and she better not have been calling this detective on December 21 -- remember, he is a Fresno homicide detective—she better not have been calling him for any other reason other than a personal reason.  And again, that takes us to your question, which is does it matter? 

Does it matter—I think it does matter because it calls into question the credibility issue.  You know Gloria knows this is as well as anyone.  Amber Frey said and you saw it in the piece earlier that on December 30 -- and she used the words I immediately called the police department and advised them of my relationship with Scott Peterson.  I mean I‘ve got a hard time buying it and I think this jury will as well and Mark Geragos will make that very clear—I have got a pretty hard time understanding that she could have on December 21 after having spoken to her very close friend on December 21, who is a Fresno...


COPELAND:  ... homicide detective, not have known about this case.  I mean look...

ABRAMS:  Wait a sec.  She only went missing on December 24.  I mean we‘re talking December 21 that she has this hour-long conversation with him.  Laci Peterson is reported missing on the 24th

COPELAND:  And it‘s not until the 30th that she advises the police...

ABRAMS:  Right.

COPELAND:  ... she has any indication of this.  I mean Dan, Saddam Hussein in that hole that he was living in must have known about Laci Peterson and her disappearance.  Scott Peterson‘s face and Laci Peterson‘s face was plastered all over the place.

ABRAMS:  Yes...

COPELAND:  And I just have a tough time...

ALLRED:  With all due respect...

COPELAND:  ... believing this was the first time...

ALLRED:  ... I haven‘t heard any—you are jumping to conclusions.  I haven‘t even heard any evidence that Saddam Hussein had the Internet or television down in that hole, and likewise, you were jumping to conclusions about what the evidence will be.  I have no doubt, and I will say this really clearly that once you hear the evidence, once you hear the testimony, and by the way, I think that Mark Geragos knows what Amber Frey‘s testimony is going to be because the police are certainly aware of the chain of events, that there will be no doubt that she did the right thing and that she wasn‘t involved.  And she didn‘t know before the date that she said that she did know...


ALLRED:  ... that he was...

ABRAMS:  ... let me read this...

ALLRED:  ... a factor in her disappearance.

ABRAMS:  This is from Detective Jacobson—remember, he filed this application for a wiretap and he said at one point, obviously Amber Frey is no longer telling us the truth in this investigation.  I suspect she may be disseminating information to Scott Peterson concerning what law enforcement knows.  He went on to say that Amber Frey still has a desire to have Scott Peterson in her life and that she may even lie or conspire with him to withhold evidence. 

I mean Dean, the defense isn‘t going to suggest that Amber Frey was in cahoots with Scott Peterson on this, are they? 

JOHNSON:  Well I don‘t know what their theory is.  Mark Geragos seems to come up with the red herring of the day.  I don‘t know if he‘s going to suggest that somehow Amber Frey worked with Scott Peterson, but I think for the defense theory, I think it‘s going to be that Amber Frey and maybe somebody else conspired to do Laci in.  I think Trent is absolutely right. 

The prosecution really has to slam dunk this whole issue of Detective Byrd because there are a lot people in there who after hearing Shawn Sibley‘s testimony, the person who introduced Amber to Scott, they are wondering—you know Shawn knew about Scott being married a long time before even December 21 and there are a lot of people saying we know how people talk in these intimate relationships.  Obviously the first thing Shawn is going to do is go to Amber and say you know we think this guy is married and then they‘re going to start trying to figure out whether that is the case.  So, they need to nip that in the bud and say look it‘s absolutely certain that Amber Frey did not know until...

ABRAMS:  Right.

JOHNSON:  ... she said she knew. 

ABRAMS:  Very quickly, Gloria, are we expecting—we know—we‘re not expecting Amber Frey this week.  Are we expecting her on the stand next week? 

ALLRED:  Dan, we don‘t have a specific date yet for her to testify.  So, there are only three court days left in this week.  I think it‘s highly unlikely that it will be this week.  We don‘t have any idea about whether or not it will be next week. 

ABRAMS:  We don‘t have any idea.  All right.  Well, look I have a sneaking suspicion it‘s going to be sometime next week, but you know just a suspicion.  We shall see. 

All right, all of you please don‘t go away.  When we come back, we get to today‘s testimony.  The detective says he found drops of blood on the Peterson‘s comforter. 

And later, Mary Kay Letourneau, remember her?  She‘s about to get out of prison after serving more than six years for having sex with her 12-year-old student.  Now her prison cellmate is speaking out about what Letourneau told her, and we ask can the judge prevent her from seeing her now 24-year-old man when she gets out? 

And the first woman convicted in the wake of the Enron scandal reports to prison, but Lea Fastow wasn‘t even working for Enron when it went bust.  I don‘t say this very often, but I think she might be getting too much time.  We‘ll debate.

Your e-mails abramsreport@msnbc.com.  I‘ll respond at the end of the show. 


ABRAMS:  Coming up, day 21 in the Scott Peterson trial.  A detective says he found blood on the comforter in the Peterson‘s bedroom.  What‘s that about?  Coming up. 


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  Now to today‘s testimony in the Scott Peterson case.  Prosecutors focused on what was found inside Scott and Laci‘s home when police arrived.

MSNBC‘s Jennifer London is live outside the courthouse in Redwood City with the latest.  Hi, Jennifer. 

JENNIFER LONDON, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT:  Hi, Dan.  Well detectives from the Modesto Police Department dominating today‘s testimony.  We heard from detective Ray Coyle.  He was present during the search of the Peterson home on 12/26 and 12/27/02.  He said that among the items he was looking for black maternity pants and a white top.  He also said that he was looking for any trace of evidence. 

Prosecutor Rick Distaso asking, did you go into the bedroom and look for any trace evidence?  Coyle said, yes.  Distaso:  Blood splatters of that nature, hair fibers.  Did you find anything?  Coyle said, yes, a couple of spots on the comforter.  Now one thing to point out, Coyle did not elaborate on the spots on the comforter nor was it made clear in court who the blood spots may have belonged to. 

Also today we heard from a detective who was involved in searching the San Francisco Bay after the bodies of Laci and her unborn son Conner were discovered.  He testified that they had numerous searches of the San Francisco Bay and they never found any evidence that would help in this case.  Under cross-examination, Mark Geragos asking Detective Rick Armendariz on September 18, how many locations specifically grid areas were targets of interest? 

Armendariz:  Twenty-three. 

Mark Geragos:  Out of 23, you found five things—two tires, a pipe, a stick, and a plastic bag. 

Armendariz:  Looks to be correct. 

Geragos:  During all those times and searches you were out there, the sum total of evidence related to this case that you recovered from the bottom of the bay floor was zero? 

Armendariz:  On the boat that I was on that is correct.

Now, why this may be important the defense has argued that Laci Peterson‘s body was not dumped in the bay as the prosecutors have said.  Rather, the defense claims the real killers abducted Laci while she was walking her dog.  They killed her and then they dumped her body along the shoreline to frame Scott Peterson. 

Now jumping back to Detective Coyle‘s testimony, there was an unexpected recess, this coming over some discovery items.  Detective Coyle was talking about some of the sex offenders and parolees that they were interviewing in the area—we‘ve talked about this before.  Geragos suddenly saying wait a minute.  There is a list that‘s being presented in court.  I don‘t know anything about it.  Dan, they have excused this detective, but they will call him back after they have had a chance to look at the discovery items. 

ABRAMS:  All right, Jennifer London, thanks a lot. 

Dean Johnson, not dumped in the bay, dumped on the shore?  So how does the body become so decomposed?  They dumped it in some other body of water and then they said (UNINTELLIGIBLE) let‘s wait a second.  Let‘s go find the body, grab it out of the water and dump it on the shore—I mean is Geragos really going to argue it was dumped on the shore? 

JOHNSON:  Well, you know that‘s exactly the question.  And the most powerful evidence here is that the prosecution has is that both bodies are seriously decomposed and that Laci‘s body is much more decomposed than Conner‘s body, which suggests that Conner was inside of Laci for a long time.  I think they may refine the theory a little bit further and we‘re beginning to see that, this is the defense will.  They are now trying to suggest that, in fact, rather than the bodies being placed on the shore by the real killers that the body of Laci probably with Conner still inside, was dumped off of the Richmond Bridge, which is nearby. 

And there is some construction debris near the sites of both bodies, which might suggest that that was a possibility.  But, of course, the problem with that is that Geragos already has another inconsistent theory, which is that this baby was born, and in fact, developed outside of Laci for quite some time.  So he has put that theory out there, too. 


JOHNSON:  Of course, that would negate the theory that it‘s dumped off the bridge...

ABRAMS:  Trent...

JOHNSON:  We‘ve got theories going in all different...

ABRAMS:  Well that‘s what I want to ask Trent Copeland about.  Does he have to have—I mean this is the beauty of being a defense attorney, is it not Trent?  You don‘t have to have consistent theories.

COPELAND:  Well that‘s exactly right you know and I was going to say I think Dean is perhaps making a better case than the prosecution and the reality is you know they do not carry—the defense does—they do not carry the burden of proof.  You know Mark Geragos can throw disparate theories out there, some of them connected to reason, some of them unconnected to anything at all, but if the jury happens to believe it and disbelieve the prosecution‘s theory, you know they‘ve got to look in the direction of innocence.  I mean he doesn‘t have to prove this case.  He can simply throw out those disparate theories out there, Dan, and it doesn‘t really matter whether they all...

ABRAMS:  But it should...


ABRAMS:  ... I mean shouldn‘t it matter Gloria...

JOHNSON:  Trent, here‘s the problem with that. 

ABRAMS:  Go ahead, quickly, Dean, yes.

JOHNSON:  Trent, here is the problem with that.  I agree with you on the burden of proof, but the problem is the defense is throwing out so many different theories.  We have got the devil cults, we‘ve got the clairvoyant stalker, we‘ve got the discarding off the bridge, we‘ve got holding the child in a house in Tracy, so many different theories that people in the courtroom, including that jury are beginning to roll their eyes and it‘s beginning to undermine the defense credibility...

ABRAMS:  All right.

JOHNSON:  ... for any theory or anything they say. 

ABRAMS:  Let me let Gloria...

JOHNSON:  That‘s their problem...


JOHNSON:  ... and that‘s the big problem with the defense here.

ALLRED:  Well you know I think also the question is you know also, although they don‘t have to present evidence to support it, what evidence do they have to support any of these theories?  And as Dean pointed out, are these theories conflicting with each other?  Are they contradicting each other?  And again, is there going to be...

ABRAMS:  But Gloria...

ALLRED:  ... a major credibility gap from Mark Geragos? 

ABRAMS:  But...

ALLRED:  I mean he said—you know he‘ll make some of these arguments with a straight face, but...

ABRAMS:  But Gloria, he will get up there...

ALLRED:  ... is the jury—are the members of the jury...

ABRAMS:  You know what he‘s going to say.  He‘s going to say it‘s not my job to figure out what happened and how it happened.  All I‘m telling you is it wasn‘t my guy.  And now I‘m trying to tell you how it might have happened, it could have happened, who knows—so if he does that, I mean I think he‘s got to be honest when he says that in the way that I just—I mean he doesn‘t have to...

ALLRED:  Well...

ABRAMS:  ... say it exactly the way I did, although of course I would recommend that he does, but anyway...

ALLRED:  I was just going to say I was wondering—you know the jurors might begin to wonder at some point are the real killers that are still out there, are the ones he‘s suggesting are still out there, are they the same real killers that O.J. Simpson is still looking for? 

ABRAMS:  I don‘t know.  Trent, you know do you think...


ABRAMS:  ... very quickly, does Geragos have to be honest about this and say, look, you know I‘m not telling you that I know how it happened, but Geragos said at the beginning I, going to prove to you Scott is factually innocent.  I think that‘s going to be a tougher case for him. 

COPELAND:  You know look Dan, he doesn‘t have to prove it. 

ABRAMS:  But he said he would. 


ABRAMS:  He said he would...


ABRAMS:  He said he‘d prove factually innocent.

COPELAND:  I agree with that.  I think he overstated the case.  I think he probably should have understated and over-delivered.  I don‘t think he did that, but I don‘t think it gets him in trouble because as much as we talk about these disparate theories not making sense for Mark Geragos, the prosecution‘s theories thus far haven‘t made a lot of sense either. 

ABRAMS:  Yes...


ABRAMS:  I‘ve got to...


ALLRED:  ... made a lot of sense.

JOHNSON:  That‘s where I disagree with you Trent...

ABRAMS:  All right.  I‘ve got to wrap this up.  But Dean, we never heard an explanation of—what kind of blood it was on the comforter.  I think we we‘re going to end up hearing that it was Scott Peterson‘s blood. 

JOHNSON:  Probably.  He did say he cut himself that day. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right.

ALLRED:  What a coincidence. 

ABRAMS:  A la O.J. 


ABRAMS:  Gloria Allred, Trent Copeland, and Dean Johnson, thanks a lot. 


ABRAMS:  Appreciate it.  Coming up, counterterrorism experts discuss postponing the election if there‘s a terror attack in the days before?  Can you do that? 

And teacher Mary Kay Letourneau gets out of prison next month after serving six years for having sex with her former student who was 12.  Now that student is 21.  A judge has ordered still can‘t see him, the boy, the man.  Can the judge do that to two adults? 


ABRAMS:  We‘re back.  It‘s never happened before.  There‘s no hard evidence it‘s going to happen now, but according to “Newsweek” magazine the Department of Homeland Security has the Justice Department analyzing—quote—“a proposal that could allow for the postponement of the November presidential election?”.  It comes after this warning from Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge. 


TOM RIDGE, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY:  Credible reporting now indicates that al Qaeda is moving forward with its plans to carry out a large-scale attack in the United States in an effort to disrupt our democratic process. 


ABRAMS:  Like the Madrid terror bomb last March that killed 191 people and helped turned Spain‘s ruling popular party out of office in voting three days later, now members of the Homeland Security Committee are split on Ridge‘s warning. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  We are preparing for all of these contingencies now. 

REP. JANE HARMON (D), CALIFORNIA:  I think it‘s excessive based on what we know. 


ABRAMS:  Can you really delay, though, a national election?  How would the law have to be changed?  Would it have to be changed? Would it be giving into the terrorists to let that alter the American political system even as an emergency measure? 

I‘m joined by former Federal Election Committee chairman and election law attorney Trevor Potter.  Mr.  Potter, thank you very much for coming on the program.  Can they do that?  Can they change the date of the election? 

TREVOR POTTER, FMR. FEC CHAIRMAN:  Well the first thing to remember is who is responsible for these decisions and the Constitution is clear it‘s Congress and it‘s the state.  So there is no constitutional role for the president or the Department of Homeland Security.  The Constitution says that Congress will set the time, place, and manner of presidential elections and, of course in our federal system, remember, you have elections going on in all 50 states and cities and towns across the country electing not only House and Senate candidates and the president, but also lots of local leaders...

ABRAMS:  So you need the state legislatures—I mean it seems—let‘s say something happens three days before an election, sure, Congress can have an emergency session.  Are you saying that as a legal matter you think that all the states would also have to have sessions? 

POTTER:  Well remember that in New York we actually have already had this because 9/11, the attack fell on a city election date...


POTTER:  ... and the governor, using his emergency powers, postponed that election.  It didn‘t take any federal action to do that.  The states have really a quilt of emergency powers that would allow governors or mayors to take action if there was something that was localized.  You mentioned the possibility of something happening three days before an election.  It seems to me the question is depending on what happens and where, is there an impossibility in that location of going forward with the election?

As Spain showed, three days later the entire country could go ahead and vote.  If something happens the day of the election and voters are as they were in New York on 9/11, unable to get to the polls, then you‘ve got a different situation.  But I think my point would be it‘s to start with a local situation, not a national one.  The question before Congress would then have to be, do they want to change anything in terms of the procedures now in place or do they want to wait and let it play out at the state and local level. 

ABRAMS:  So again, to be clear, you are saying that in order to change something on the national level, there couldn‘t be an order from the president, for example. 

POTTER:  That‘s correct.

ABRAMS:  It wouldn‘t be the U.S. Supreme Court.  It would simply be Congress would have to come into session and make that decision just by a majority vote? 

POTTER:  One thing we learned in 2000 is that we have no idea what the U.S. Supreme Court would do, but I think a clear reading of the Constitution is that it‘s up to Congress to set the rules here.  There are many people who would argue that because that‘s Congress‘ responsibility, they ought to look at it now and set the rules in advance of the election so that you don‘t get into a partisan dispute right afterwards about whether something was correctly postponed or not or whether electors from one state should be seded or not, which is the sort of situation we ended up with in 2000 with Florida. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  Trevor Potter...

POTTER:  ... Congress.

ABRAMS:  ... thank you very much for taking the time and sharing your expertise.  Appreciate it.

POTTER:  You‘re welcome. 

Coming up, Mary Kay Letourneau went to prison for having sex with her 12-year-old student.  Now she is getting out.  The judge‘s ruling says she still really can‘t see the student even though he‘s not a student anymore.  He‘s 21.  They have two children together.  Can the judge do that? 


ABRAMS:  Coming up, Mary Kay Letourneau in prison for having sex with her 12-year-old student.  She‘ll be released next month.  He‘s now 21.  Can a judge prevent these two adults from seeing each other?  First the headlines.


ABRAMS:  We are back.  Remember Mary Kay Letourneau?  The teacher sent to prison for six months after it was discovered she was having an affair with a 12-year-old student.  The judge in the case ordered Letourneau to never contact the student again, at least without some sort of supervision.  But after her release, police caught Letourneau again with the same student.  That time a judge sent her back to prison for seven and a half years. 

After serving more than six years of her sentence, Letourneau due to be released next month.  The court ordered her not to see her former student Billy Vili and that order is still in place, but Letourneau and Vili, who is now 21, have two children together—they‘re raised by Vili‘s mother.  Vili, who does not live with her, visits.  The children are allowed some supervised visits with Letourneau in prison, and Vili told the “New York Post” that he dreams about a future with his former teacher. 

Quote—“I have been imagining and thinking about what our life would be like together for a long time, but I can‘t say what will happen.  No one can.  I want to know what her true feelings are first.  We‘ll see what happens after that.”

That‘s a pretty mature way to look at it, I guess.  Before we talk about whether a judge can continue to prevent them from seeing one another, reporter Alyssa Hahn (ph) from NBC Seattle affiliate KING (ph) talked to Mary Kay Letourneau‘s close friend and former cellmate who says Letourneau still thinks they are destined to be together. 


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I have talked to Vili since my release.  I don‘t know all of his intentions, but I know he loves that woman.  And he is not 12 anymore or 14 anymore.  And I know Mary‘s never stopped loving him. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice-over):  Former inmate Christina Dress says becoming close friends with Mary Letourneau was the last thing she expected.  Dress was doing time for forgery, but was an avid writer, so she couldn‘t resist approaching the notorious child molester after Letourneau arrived at the prison.

CHRISTINA DRESS, FMR. CELLMATE:  I think I just wanted a piece of the Letourneau pie, maybe like any other writer or media person. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  They became good friends and cellmates.  Soon the two women, along with convicted killer Tama-Lisa Johnson began writing a book called “Mass With Mary”.

DRESS:  But it‘s the real untold story.  It‘s from Mary‘s words. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  Dress says the former schoolteacher has many regrets, especially concerning Vili Fualaau. 

DRESS:  She wished she would have waited.  She wished she would have waited.  It caused her family a lot of grief, caused her to be separate from Vili. 

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER:  When Dress got out of prison last January, this card from Mary was waiting in her mailbox.  With Letourneau‘s scheduled release next month, we asked her cellmate what she thought will happen between the former teacher and student? 

DRESS:  My sense is, and even in the—just the brief talks I have had with Vili, he cares about what happens to Mary.  What they do is their business and I guess I like that he‘s not a minor anymore. 


ABRAMS:  That was Alyssa Hahn (ph) reporting from Seattle.  Now they are both adults how can a court tell Letourneau and Fualaau they can‘t see one another?  Another teacher in Letourneau‘s county, Mark Blilie, had an affair with a 15-year-old former student.  He spent four years in prison for the crime.  When he was released the judge in the case reversed an order banning him from contacting the former student.  The two later married.

So could that, should that happen here?  Joining me now defense attorney Anne Bremner who represented the city of Seattle when Mary Kay Letourneau‘s teenage lover and mother sued the city for damages and Broward County Florida prosecutor Stacey Honowitz.  All right, good to see both you...


ABRAMS:  Stacey, here‘s my take on this.


ABRAMS:  I think that at this point you‘ve got a family here.  You can talk about she served her time.  She committed a crime.  She served her time as she should.  The bottom line is this boy is now 21 years old.  They have two children together.  I think it should be in the state‘s interest to allow this family to be together if they want to be together. 

STACEY HONOWITZ, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA PROSECUTOR:  Well certainly you can ask Ann that if she thinks it‘s in the state‘s interest now when she had the case back then, but a judge—you asked the question early on, can a judge keep this order enforced?  Certainly, we all know that the judge based on the decision made in this case or based on his violation of the previous order can do whatever he wants.

But in any case like this, in my child molestation case where a judge orders that the molester have no contact with the victim, those orders can be reversed all the time.  So what‘s going to happen in this case is they‘re going to go before the court, they‘re going to tell the court there‘s changed circumstances, they‘re going to tell the court that this is a family that needs a mother and a father and a judge is going to have to make that decision whether or not it‘s in the best interest for these children to know that their father was a father at age 13 or 14 and that‘s what‘s going to happen...

ABRAMS:  But this is not a custody case.  This is not just what‘s in the best interest of the children.  It‘s also you know the fact that you have two individuals who if they want to see each other, Anne Bremner...


ABRAMS:  ... it seems to me that you know the court should stay out of it.  I mean look I‘m not suggesting that the court should stay out of cases where you‘ve got children involved.  The court did get involved.  She served her time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  She served seven years...

ABRAMS:  Yes.  Now she‘s being released and it seems to me to be nuts to just make the situation worse by saying oh they can‘t see each other ever again.  We‘re going to keep this enforced.

ANNE BREMNER, DEFENSE ATTORNEY:  Well it is.  In a lifetime no contact order is very rare in any event.  It was given in this case just because our law in Washington State is silent on this and there are two children involved and they know their father was a father at 13.  They see Mary in prison every two weeks and they should all be reunited.  I mean this is—the most important thing is to keep the family unit.  And most importantly, Mary wants to be with Vili.  Vili wants to be with Mary and he is 21.  He‘s an adult.  You know back at the time I had the civil case, there was a quote from a Hollywood producer and he said you know if you squint your eyes this all kind of makes sense even back then and it was a very odd case, but now he‘s grown up and he has two children.

ABRAMS:  What do you mean it all makes sense?  What do you mean?

BREMNER:  What—no the producer said back when if you squint your eyes it all makes sense, this whole relationship when he was 12, 13, which it doesn‘t.  I‘m saying now...


BREMNER:  ... he‘s an adult and it does. 

ABRAMS:  All right. 

HONOWITZ:  And that could never make sense.  That is the most ridiculous line you could ever hear somebody say.  But, Dan, the bottom line is this lifetime no contact order, you certainly can bet your bottom dollar that next month when she gets out of court the first thing they‘re going to do is they‘re going to go right into the courthouse and tell the judge just what you were saying before, this is ridiculous ad he has to make a decision...

ABRAMS:  What do you think he should do Stacey?

HONOWITZ:  ... whether or not it is in the best interest...

ABRAMS:  What do you think he should do?

HONOWITZ:  I mean...

ABRAMS:  He or she...

HONOWITZ:  ... I think that he has to weigh the pros and cons of it. 

He really has to make a decision...

ABRAMS:  I know that. 

HONOWITZ:  ... this is what you did when you were 12 and 13...

ABRAMS:  What—but tell me what the con is.  I mean I understand the pros, I just laid out.  What is the con to letting them see one another and possibly bring up their children together?  What is the downside to this? 

HONOWITZ:  Well according to them there is no con.  They are in love and there‘s a true-life love story between the two of them.  So the judge has to decide whether or not what happened seven years ago is enough to keep them apart now. 

BREMNER:  You know...

HONOWITZ:  If the crime was so heinous back then that she molested this child and had two children with him, it was so heinous back then he should keep them apart forever. 


HONOWITZ:  What do I think a judge is going to do?  I think he‘s probably going to reverse his order. 

BREMNER:  Well it‘s a she judge, actually Judge Lau.  In handling the civil case I had for nine and a half weeks, Vili Fualaau has had at lot of time to think about this, a lot of counseling, a lot of evaluation, and I think that he‘s at this point you know in a position where he can make up his own mind.  He is an adult. 

ABRAMS:  Let me ask you this Anne.  Does the court‘s ruling say she is not allowed to see him except if someone is supervising? 

BREMNER:  No, it is no contact whatsoever. 

ABRAMS:  Because I‘m reading from the court of appeals opinion here.  It says the court order Letourneau have no contact for the maximum term of life with the victim or with any minors without the supervision of responsible adults...

BREMNER:  Exactly Dan...

ABRAMS:  I guess that‘s just with regard to minors, right...

BREMNER:  Exactly.  It‘s with regard to minors.  And actually the court of appeals reversed part of the sentence as it pertained to her own children and contact with her own children. 

ABRAMS:  Yes.  All right, so...

HONOWITZ:  This is pretty standard stuff. 

ABRAMS:  Is it standard stuff to say for life...


HONOWITZ:  ... here‘s the thing.  I don‘t know why people are so you know up in arms about this.  Anne knows this is pretty standard stuff in a criminal case.  If there is a molester, the person is 12 years of age, there is to be no contact with that person...

ABRAMS:  Until...

HONOWITZ:  ... end of discussion. 

ABRAMS:  Right.  Until...

HONOWITZ:  Unless there are changed circumstances...

BREMNER:  But Stacey...


BREMNER:  ... one other thing on that, though, is any state it‘s for the duration of your sentence, but in Washington State because the law is silent, it can be for life even if your sentence is 10 years or seven years, et cetera.  So it‘s a real anomaly, especially when you have two children involved, I think. 

ABRAMS:  I‘m going to—I want to read this final statement from Mary Kay Letourneau in an interview she did with Court TV in 2001.  She was doing an online chat.  She said, “I do expect that, but I am also realistic that I have two and a half long years left here—this was before she was released.  I know in some form, of course, we‘ll be together because we have two children.”

I also imagine that we will both need some kind of counseling to help sort out what has happened over these years.  As people have seen it‘s not set up in the courts that when he turns 18 it‘s lifted.  We have to go into the courts and have it lifted, and at that point we can start working out our future.  I am expecting to be together with him and I believe that he is expecting to be with me. 

What a bizarro case this is.  Anne and Stacey...

HONOWITZ:  There better be some psychological counseling...

ABRAMS:  Oh that‘s for sure.  I would think so, yes.

All right, thanks to both of you.  Appreciate it.

BREMNER:  Thank you.

ABRAMS:  Coming up...

HONOWITZ:  Thanks Dan.

ABRAMS:  ... this is the second person to be sent to prison in the wake of the Enron corruption scandal, but she didn‘t work at Enron at the time the company went broke.  And I say she is getting a sentence that is too tough.  You heard me right. 

Plus, why the renewed effort to pass a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage is misguided.  It is my “Closing Argument”...


ABRAMS:  The second person to be sentenced in connection with the Enron scandal started a one-year term in a high-rise federal lockup on Monday, even though the crime that put her behind bars isn‘t really directly related to the shady financial deals that wiped out the company.  Lea Fastow is 42 and the mother of two young boys, a former Enron assistant treasurer.  She pled guilty in May to one misdemeanor count of willfully delivering a partially fraudulent tax return to the IRS. 

She is also the wife of former Enron Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow.  And by threatening her with jail time, prosecutors apparently succeeded in getting her husband to agree to a plea that will see him testify against other Enron executives or as a lawyer familiar with the case—quote—unquote—told “TIME” magazine, “they just indicted his wife and let him and his lawyers draw their own conclusions on what that would mean for his family.” 

Now Lea Fastow pled guilty to a crime and even told the court she made errors in judgment that she‘ll always regret, is it right to pressure a wife and mother with jail time to get her husband to come forward?  And why did this judge push so hard to make sure she served more time than even the prosecutors wanted? 

Mike Deguerin is Lea Fastow‘s attorney and Joshua Berman is a former federal prosecutor who handled terror organized crime and white-collar prosecutions in New York. 

All right, I would usually start with Mr. Deguerin, but I want to ask a pointed question to Berman because I think on this one I‘m going to support Mr. Deguerin‘s position on a lot of this.  You know the bottom line is this is a woman who admitted failing to report $47,000 in income.  The prosecutors had initially agreed to five months in prison, five months of home detention, a 10-month sentence entirely consistent with the federal sentencing guidelines for this crime.  The prosecutors fought hard to get her that.  Now she—the judge says, no, she is getting even more time now.  She‘s effectively going to serve a year.  Isn‘t she getting a raw deal here? 

JOSHUA BERMAN, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR:  No, Dan, not at all.  In fact, she got a sweetheart deal here and that‘s what I think upset Judge Hittner.  What happened here is she was facing six federal felonies.  She was facing upwards of 37 years in jail.  She got out of this relatively easy.  She could have been spending significant time even if the government hadn‘t sought any enhancements.  Moreover, because of this deal, her husband is getting to cooperate.  Without this sweetheart deal, without signing onto this, her husband—I mean he wouldn‘t get out—his kids would be in their 50‘s when he got out of jail. 

ABRAMS:  Yes, you know, I don‘t know.  Mr. Deguerin, I‘ll just let you respond to it. 

MIKE DEGUERIN, LEA FASTOW‘S ATTORNEY:  Well, it‘s—what happened was the government did ask for a five-month sentence.  Not only did they ask for it, they backed it up with statistics and laws and reasons why a five-month sentence would be harsh in a normal situation.  And when the judge instead sentenced her to 12 months, they pointed out that this was two times—over two times as harsh as any sentence for someone in her situation.  And that‘s not even counting people that have prior criminal records and she was a first offender.  Go ahead. 

ABRAMS:  Yes I was going to say—and Mr. Berman, the bottom line is she was going to plead.  I mean they had this worked out so we can‘t say that Andrew Fastow would haven‘t come forward because part of the deal was she pleads and her husband comes forward.  Fine.  You want to say that they can strong-arm her to make him come forward, fine.  But to then stick it to her like this on the issue strictly of filing a partially false tax return and for you to say, oh, she could have faced 37 years, I mean the prosecutors didn‘t want 37 years.  No one in the court, except for the judge, seemed to want this incredibly stiff sentence. 

BERMAN:  But she did a heck of a lot more according at least to the initial indictment than simply 40-some odd thousand dollars in fraud.  You are talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars in profits skimmed from the partnership of which she knew quite a bit about.  And remember, she is not some unwitting spouse who didn‘t know what she was signing.  Here‘s someone with an MBA.  Here‘s someone who worked as an assistant treasurer in the company for seven years and here‘s someone who tried to hide the money as gifts in her children‘s tax reporting or tax forms.  I mean this is someone who knew what she was doing, so it was a lot more than errors in judgment. 

ABRAMS:  Mr. Deguerin, some of my viewers are going to say, look, Enron stole so much money from the public and they‘re going to say I lost money in my 401 (k) and if she was hiding any of that money, I‘d like to see her serve a stiff sentence.  How do you respond to what people say to that? 

DEGUERIN:  Well I don‘t blame people for being upset with what happened with Enron.  I don‘t blame people that lost money in Enron and nor does Andy or Lea Fastow.  But the point remains that they were not alleging that Lea Fastow was involved in those activities.  What they alleged was that when Mr. Copper sent money to Andrew Fastow, $48,000 over a year‘s period of time, and called them gifts, that she should have known better—she was at home with her kids by that time—that she should have known better that those were not real gifts.  They were passing on gratitude for Copper being able to make money...

ABRAMS:  But Mr. Berman is pointing out that that was the deal.  The bottom line is she was charged with a lot more than that and part of the deal was just agreeing to that.

DEGUERIN:  No, if—in the very beginning before it became a misdemeanor, when it was still a felony, it was pointed out by the prosecution that the  offense was failing to include the $48,000 on a tax return.  It didn‘t cause a tax loss.  It—when you take that one fact and you can under federal law find five different crimes that that...


DEGUERIN:  ... amounts to and that‘s what they did.  Money laundering, tax returns, et cetera. 

ABRAMS:  Let me play a quick piece of sound from Ken Lay talking about your client‘s husband.  I want to get a quick response. 

DEGUERIN:  All right. 


KENNETH LAY, INDICTED FORMER ENRON CEO:  For the most part, those that I put in those positions and I have entrusted to those positions have, in fact, justified that trust.  Clearly in this case there was at least one, Andy Fastow, that betrayed that trust and betrayed it very, very badly. 


ABRAMS:  Ken Lay blaming Andy Fastow.  What do you make of that? 

DEGUERIN:  Well, I don‘t blame him for doing that.  I mean he is facing a long prison term, a trial coming up.  Andy Fastow created some financial situations, special purpose entities that was applauded in industry.  He was made chief financial—I mean chief—the best financial officer of the year...


DEGUERIN:  ... or something like that while he was doing it...


DEGUERIN:  ... with the government—I mean not the government, but the accountants saying it was OK, with the lawyers saying it was OK.

ABRAMS:  Now he‘s pled guilty, we should point out, to two counts of wire and securities fraud.  A 10-year prison term without parole is what he is likely facing.  I‘ve got to wrap it up...

DEGUERIN:  Yes, that‘s true. 


DEGUERIN:  He is.  He‘s pled guilty.  He‘s going to face those. 

ABRAMS:  I‘ve got to wrap it up.  Mr. Deguerin and Mr. Berman, thanks a lot for coming on the program. 

BERMAN:  Thanks Dan.

ABRAMS:  Appreciate it. 

Coming up, why gay marriage is really the secondary issue—to me—as the president renews efforts to amend the Constitution on this one.  It‘s my “Closing Argument”.


ABRAMS:  Coming up, why the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage will fail, should fail.  Not because of the gay marriage, but because the Constitution is just too precious.


ABRAMS:  My “Closing Argument”—I really can‘t believe President Bush is renewing his call for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.  An amendment he knows will fail and certainly should fail.  To be clear again, you can oppose gay marriage and also oppose a constitutional amendment on the issue.  To be honest, I‘m more concerned about the Constitution than I am about the issue.  The Constitution has only been amended 17 times since it was enacted in 1791 and in almost all cases, it has been amended to create a better, more accurate voting system, to ensure equal rights, to better delineate who does what in the government.

The framer‘s intentionally protected the sanctity of the Constitution by making it more difficult to amend.  You need two-thirds of both the House and the Senate followed by three-quarters of the states.  This is not even close to being an issue that justifies tinkering with our jealously protected Constitution. 

Furthermore, this latest effort by the administration is really antithetical.  It‘s what conservatives generally advocate.  Allowing states to determine their fate rather than having the federal government dictate what they can and can‘t do.  That‘s exactly what the president is attempting here, to prevent states from deciding this issue on their own.

What‘s the rush?  Most legal scholars agree no state is obliged to enforce a same sex marriage from another state and there‘s even a federal statute on the books to try to ensure that remains the case.  This amendment won‘t pass, it shouldn‘t pass.  President Bush should stand up to the fringes, seeking to unnecessarily change one of our most cherished documents.

Out of time.  See you tomorrow. 


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