Tuesday, May 6, 2003
Former Superior Court Judge, Convicted of Fraud, Offers Resignation From State Bar
By a MetNews Staff Writer
A former San Diego Superior Court judge, convicted of mail fraud along with another ex-judge and an ex-lawyer, has offered to resign from the State Bar rather than face a scheduled disciplinary hearing, a State Bar spokesman said yesterday.
James A. Malkus offered the resignation next month, shortly after being served with a hearing notice, the spokesman said, adding that the ex-jurist remains suspended until the state Supreme Court rules on his request.
Malkus was a judge from 1979 to 1993, when he resigned from the bench and took inactive status with the State Bar. His resignation was part of the early fallout of an investigation that roiled the San Diego bench in the first half of the last decade.
It was disclosed that a prominent local trial lawyer, Patrick Frega, had given more than $100,000 in gifts to Malkus and two other judges, G. Dennis Adams and Bruce Greer, and to their families in cars, repairs and computers.
Prosecutors charged that in return for those gifts, Greer—who served as presiding judge for two years—made favorable rulings in Frega’s cases or assigned the cases to Malkus and Adams, who were also in collusion with Frega.
Greer resigned from the bench, and eventually became a witness against the other three and was placed on probation. He resigned from the State Bar with disciplinary charges pending and attempted suicide.
In addition to favorable rulings, the judges allegedly gave Frega advice about his cases and reviewed documents and testimony he planned to offer.
In one case Frega got Greer to transfer a lawsuit to Malkus, then arranged a job for Malkus’ son, paid him $10,000 above the usual salary, gave the son $2,000 in money orders and had numerous telephone conversations with Malkus, according to a Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel. After a non-jury trial, Malkus awarded Frega’s client more than $4 million.
Frega, Malkus, and Adams were convicted of racketeering conspiracy and mail fraud in 1996. A 21-count superseding indictment listed 163 overt acts allegedly committed by the three men from 1983 to 1992.
An earlier indictment was thrown out after U.S. District Judge Edward Rafeedie ruled the federal bribery statute used to charge the indictment did not apply to state judges. Rafeedie, a senior judge of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, was designated to try the case in San Diego after all of the Southern District’s judges recused themselves.
Following appeals, the two ex-judges—Adams was removed from the bench by the state Supreme Court in 1995—won dismissals on the conspiracy convictions but the mail fraud charges stuck and both went to prison.
Rafeedie sentenced Malkus to 30 months in prison, part of which he served at a federal prison facility in Lompoc and part in a halfway house.
Adams and Frega both resigned with disciplinary charges pending two years ago. Adams was reported to be living in Hawaii, where his ex-wife, retired San Diego Superior Court Judge Barbara Gamer, owns property.
Malkus reportedly has been living and working in San Diego. A phone call to his attorney, Ezekiel Cortez, was not returned.
Copyright 2003, Metropolitan News Company