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'Bling ring' lawyer indicted for allegedly bribing witness in another case

A Sherman Oaks attorney who represents a key suspect in the "bling ring" celebrity burglary case has been indicted in a separate case for dissuading and bribing a witness, officials said today.

Sean G. Erenstoft, 42, pleaded not guilty this morning after the indictment was unsealed. Prosecutors allege the attorney, while representing a defendant in a stalking case, filed a civil case against the victim to dissuade her from testifying against the defendant at his preliminary hearing.

Prosecutors in the grand jury indictment also allege that Erenstoft later offered to drop the civil case in exchange for favorable testimony at his client’s sentencing.

Deputy L.A. County Dist. Atty. Paul Nunez of the justice system integrity division said the indictment charges Erenstoft with one count each of dissuading a witness, bribery of a witness and offering to bribe a witness.

Erenstoft was released on $100,000 bail. He is due back in court March 16 for a pretrial hearing.

Erenstoft represents Nicholas Prugo, 18, of Calabasas, who is charged with eight burglaries of celebrities' homes, including Paris HIlton's and Rachel Bilson's.

-- Richard Winton

 
Comments () | Archives (5)

Not a good move on Erenstoft's part, but I think it will buy him some credibility with prospective clients. Gotta love when your attorney is willing to fight for you like that.

He faces disbarment if the charges stick.

No clients to fight for Craig.

I heard that the "victim" against his client got sued for giving the dude herpes and beating the guy up. When she got sued, she complained to the DA about getting dragged into more litigation. The DA had her call Sean Erenstoft and recorded her trying to get the civil case dismissed. The discussion was probably Erenstoft trying to see if she would tell the DA that she didn't want a full-blown prosecution and that got back to the DA and Sean was seen as stepping on someone's toes. Civil compromises happen all the time. The timing of this stuff sounds like the DA trying to step on Sean while he was in the middle of handling the BlingRing nightmare (he was the attorney to Nick Prugo). Anyway, if Sean made a mistake talking to this woman (who allegedly called him), it might be negligence, but it certainly doesn't reek of criminal wrongdoing. Let's see how this falls out. It sounds like a tough situation when someone's dealing with a civil suit and the defendant in the civil suit is also a victim in a criminal suit. If Sean didn't even call her, it sounds like entrapment at the least. Just my two-cents. I also heard that Erenstoft was communicating with the DA about the communications he had with the "victim." It doesn't even sound like he was trying to hide the fact that they spoke. P.S. I looked at the guy's blog post about security guards that beat up people and then call the cops to hide behind their own wrong-doing is the kind of stuff that he handles. Erenstoft takes on both civil and criminal matters and, it appears, that the stuff overlaps. I'm sure he will be careful in the future!!!! Best of luck.

Sean Erenstoft was called-out by the Los Angeles District Attorney's office after he challenged Deputy District Attorney, Wendy Segall’s decision to badger a favorable defense witness. That same witness contacted his office to seek advice on who the witness termed “a loose cannon DA.”

At the time, his client had a pending civil suit against the witness and his client agreed to dismiss that case on condition that the witness came to court to testify truthfully. The DA surreptitiously recorded the exchange and termed it a bribe.

Erenstoft reminded the DA that the bribery statutes were never intended to thwart legitimate civil compromises or promises intended to have witnesses come to court to testify truthfully. Erenstoft repeated, “I never attempted to ‘dissuade’ any witness from participating in the legal system – Quite the opposite!” This litigation was the DA’s way of silencing a zealous advocate intent on exposing questionable DA conduct.

Erenstoft reports his appreciation for Deputy District Attorney, Paul Nunez who recognized the limitations of the bribery statute and recommended a lesser charge. While denying he did anything legally inappropriate, Erenstoft humbly acknowledge that he was inartful in the manner he addressed the problem he was having with Ms. Segall. He accepted a plea because it was in his best interests to do so and will take the opportunity to learn from the mistake he made while pushing back against perceived DA heavy-handedness.

Erenstoft also adds that that at the time he was contacted by the witness, his client had already plead guilty in his case and was awaiting sentencing. Insofar as subpoenas aren’t issued for witnesses to appear at sentencing hearings, it strains the imagination of how a witness (not otherwise compelled by subpoena to attend the hearing) could be “dissuaded” from attending such a hearing – especially when it was Erenstoft's stated intent to have the witness attend and testify. . . truthfully.

Erenstoft indicated that he intends to continue to serve Los Angeles’ minority populations and establish businesses concentrating on alternatives to litigation such as mediation and arbitration.

Mr. Erenstoft also insists that he is a firm supporter of our law enforcement and maintains respect for District Attorney’s Office despite this misunderstanding. Sean has apologized to the Court and to his friends in the DA's office and explained that he still has alot to learn in this, his chosen, profession.

From the looks of it, Sean Erenstoft has now hired a web person to try and supress the truth from everyone on the Internet. I hope that everyone that is considering working with this man takes the time to read all the content on all the search engines before giving this man 1 dollar.


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