Defense attorney accuses Wagstaffe of vendetta in prosecutions of deputy 

The attorney for a former San Mateo County sheriff's deputy accused last year in a jail smuggling case and last week in a new case involving embezzlement and fraud has accused San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe of bringing a "personal vendetta" against his client.

Juan Pablo Lopez, 51, was charged last November with allowing two corrections officers to smuggle cellphones and drugs to an inmate in the Redwood City jail between April and December 2013.

Last week, Wagstaffe filed new charges against Lopez accusing him of committing fraud during a campaign for sheriff last year, embezzling campaign funds and filing false documents in an attempt to profit off of homes he owns in Newark and Redwood City.

But Lopez's attorney, Stuart Hanlon, said Thursday that he thinks the two cases against his client are retaliation for Lopez's unsuccessful bid for sheriff last year. Lopez lost by a landslide to Sheriff Greg Munks, only collecting 1.4 percent of the vote.

"I think these charges are retaliation, this whole set of cases against him are retaliation," Hanlon said. He said Wagstaffe has a close relationship with Munks and is bringing the cases due to a "personal vendetta."

"This is really a misuse of the legal system," Hanlon said. He said he intends to file a motion to recuse the District Attorney's Office so the state Attorney General's Office can prosecute.

But Wagstaffe said that Hanlon's allegations of retaliatory prosecutions are "nonsense."

"I certainly have known Sheriff Munks for many years, but that's no basis to recuse my office," he said, adding that he also had a friendly relationship with Lopez when he was a deputy.

"To claim that somehow this is a political prosecution based on my friendship with the sheriff is something that comes out of fantasy land," Wagstaffe said. "It's not based in any fact."

Wagstaffe said Munks would not be a witness in the case and that he has no intention of prosecuting the case himself.

Prosecutors allege Lopez lied about his residence while running for sheriff, embezzled from his campaign funds and in a separate case attempted to profit off of his Newark home by filing false documents.

The new charges are entirely separate from the jail smuggling case, Wagstaffe said.

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