Prosecutors on Thursday unsealed an indictment charging a 64-year-old criminal defense attorney in Washington for his alleged participation in a scheme to fabricate evidence to benefit a client charged in a drug trafficking case.
The attorney, Charles Daum, a solo practitioner in the District, was charged in a seven-count indictment along with two private investigators.
The indictment said Daum was part of a plan to produce evidence to convince jurors that the drugs police seized from a client actually belonged to another person. Daum was charged with, among other crimes, three counts of influencing a juror and two counts of inducing perjury. Click here for a copy of the 16-page indictment.
Daum did not return messages seeking comment at his law office or by e-mail. His lawyer, David Schertler of Washington’s Schertler & Onorato, said in a statement that Daum is "shocked by the allegations made in the indictment and adamantly denies the charges" that government brought against him.
"These charges threaten to chill the important work done by all criminal defense attorneys in our ethical obligation to zealously defend our clients," Schertler said. "We are anxious for the opportunity to defend Mr. Daum in the same criminal justice system which he has served so long to vindicate both his personal and professional reputation.”
Daum, a member of the D.C. bar since 1978, has a history of attorney discipline actions in the District, Maryland and Virginia. He has been admonished for, among other ethical violations, revealing client secrets.
Justice Department prosecutors said earlier this month that the government is examining other cases that may have been compromised.
“The allegations are extremely serious and the consequences far reaching as this case goes to the very essence and integrity of the judicial system,” Criminal Division trial attorney Donnell Turner of the narcotics section said in court papers filed on April 12. Turner is prosecuting the case with DOJ trial attorney Robert Spelke.
The charges against Daum and the two investigators stem from Daum’s representation of a man named Delante White, indicted on federal drug charges in March 2008. Investigators said a search warrant turned up crack cocaine, $2,000, firearm ammunition, a digital scale and other items.
In the case against Daum, prosecutors allege the attorney enlisted the help of two private investigators to obtain duplicates of items the authorities seized during the execution of the search warrant in the 600 block of Hamlin Street in Northeast Washington in February 2008.
Prosecutors said the investigators, Daaiyah Pasha, 60, of Washington, D.C., and Iman Pasha, 31, of Springfield, Va, arranged to take a staged photograph of White’s brother with the items. The photographs would show White’s brother cutting cocaine to convince jurors the drugs the police seized did not belong to White.
The plan, according to the government, also included the creation of a false lease agreement to show that White was living in Maryland and not at the one-bedroom apartment the authorities raided. At the time of his arrest, White’s driver's license had him living at the one-bedroom apartment in Northeast.
In September 2008, Daum filed court papers in White’s drug case that his brother, if anyone, “was the sole possessor” of the drugs that were at the center of the prosecution. Daum submitted the photos as evidence in White’s trial before U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman.
In arguing for a judgment of acquittal, Daum said in court papers that “the defense presented photographic evidence of Jerome White exercising dominion and control over what appears to be the government’s main pieces of evidence approximately forty-eight hours prior to their seizure.”
At trial, prosecutors discounted the weight of the photographic evidence showing White’s brother.
In one photo, White’s brother is shown cutting crack cocaine on a plate on top of a shoe box. A detective testified a drug pusher is more likely to cut crack inside a box than outside to prevent residue and smaller pieces from spreading on the floor. Additionally, prosecutors said the fingerprints of White’s brother were not found on plates in the apartment.
Court papers show Delante White’s trial ended in a hung jury. A lawyer for White, Maryland solo practitioner Mark Carroll, declined to comment on the status of the drug prosecution.