No more curfew. No more electronic monitoring. A Superior Court judge today removed restrictions imposed on Arent Fox lawyer Joseph Price, his domestic partner Victor Zaborsky, and their friend Dylan Ward while they are free pending trial.
Lawyers for Price (pictured above), Zaborsky, and Ward—the men who are accused of obstructing the D.C. police investigation of the murder of Robert Wone—say their clients do not pose a flight risk and are not dangers to the community.
“I don’t see how the curfew and electronic monitoring add anything to this case,” Superior Court Judge Frederick Weisberg said from the bench. Defense lawyers David Schertler, Bernard Grimm, and Thomas Connolly argued in motions filed this month that the supervision conditions were affecting employment and family relations among their clients.
The removal of Price and Ward from the high intensity supervision program, which had included a curfew between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., came over the objection of Glenn Kirschner, the assistant U.S. attorney who is lead counsel for the government. Weisberg did not buy the prosecution's argument that the defendants are flight risks because they have money to flee.
Kirschner alleged that Price lied on his application on file at the D.C. Pretrial Services Agency when he wrote that he’s never used drugs. The prosecutor says there’s evidence from “multiple sources” that Price was distributing cocaine and crystal methamphetamine. Kirschner, however, did not elaborate. Grimm, the Cozen O'Connor partner representing Price, calls the drug allegations untrue and chided Kirschner for "outlandish" statements in a full courtroom.
D.C. police seized Ecstasy from the Swann Street home of Price and Zaborsky. Prosecutors say Wone was restrained, sexually assaulted and stabbed in the home in August 2006. Kirschner said today the prosecution is exploring whether Wone was subdued when he was forced to ejaculate through the use of an electric stimulator. A shock device, in addition to other sexual-oriented items, was reportedly seized from Ward’s bedroom.
A superseding indictment charging conspiracy, obstruction, and tampering of evidence is expected in mid-January, Kirschner said today. Kirschner did not specify whether each of the defendants will face the same charges. Obstruction carries a maximum 30-year prison term. In an interview after the hearing, Schertler said the government has cobbled together allegations based on speculation and innuendo.
Price, an intellectual property litigator, is on paid leave from Arent Fox. Zaborsky is a marketing manager for Milk Processor Education Program, a group that advocates the health benefits of milk. Zaborsky travels frequently for his job. Ward is a massage therapist in the District who has a side gig as a writer. The men are “somewhat radioactive” right now due the publicity the case has generated, says Schertler of Schertler & Onorato. Ward retained Schertler.
In alleviating the flight-risk concern, Weisberg proposed freezing assets but then settled on requiring Price and Zaborsky (pictured at right) to surrender to their lawyers the deeds to property in the District and in Florida. The talk about holding money up triggered concern among the defense lawyers.
“I don’t mean to be mercenary here, but there are attorney fees and expert fees to be paid to fight this case,” says Connolly, the Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis partner who represents Zaborsky. Price, Zaborsky, and Ward have set up a legal defense fund.
Price, Zaborsky, and Ward must submit to weekly drug testing and are required to call the D.C. Pretrial Services Agency to report any trips out of the District.