NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The state Attorney General's office and St. Bernard Parish President Dave Peralta are at odds over who may have violated a gag order in Peralta's criminal case. Newly filed documents accuse the parish president of emailing members of the media, to discuss the allegations he faces.
The state alleges Dave Peralta created two private, paid accounts for the purpose of emailing FOX 8's Lee Zurik, a reporter from the Times-Picayune and one from The Advocate. Court documents filed Monday say on November 3rd 2014, Peralta emailed reporter Richard Thompson, saying, "Didn't know if you're aware but Dave Peralta's attorney has filed a motion with the court for contempt citations against Sharon and he(r) attorney Stephen Rue. Just thought you might be interested."
Thompson replied to the email saying, "President Peralta? Is that you?".
According to the state, Peralta replied, "No but I work with him."
Peralta was ordered not to discuss the sexual battery charge he faces in St. Bernard Parish and the stalking charge he faces in St. Tammany Parish. Both have to do with his ex-wife, Sharon Schaeffer. Because of the alleged email exchanges between Peralta and reporters, the state argues he should be held in contempt of court.
FOX 8 legal analyst Joseph Raspanti says, "In hindsight, it probably wasn't a very smart thing for him to do."
Court documents also show that on September 22nd, Lee Zurik emailed Peralta on his AOL account to ask if rumors about him cleaning out his office and a possible resignation were true. The state points out, instead of saying "no comment" Peralta replied, "I'll be at work tom(o)rrow and Wednesday and Thursday etc. I took some posters out of my offic(e) to get framed. Lol."
Peralta's legal team believes the Attorney General's office violated the gag order, by releasing evidence in the sexual battery case. The A.G.'s filing last week detailed Peralta's propensity to visit porn sites on his office computer and how he left a "rape note" for then wife Sharon before she accused him of handcuffing and raping her against her will.
In the motion filed last Friday, Peralta's attorney Martin Regan writes, "This 'filing' was done full well knowing that press...would immediately be widely published. This was all done for the…purpose of violating Mr. Peralta's right to a fair trial...".
"Judges can be mad at both sides, I've seen it, it's not pleasant," Raspanti commented.
In addition to the sexual battery and stalking charge Peralta faces, he's also being investigated by a Grand Jury for malfeasance in office. "I would guess that they probably wouldn't go forward with the St. Bernard trial until the Grand Jury makes a decision one way or the other because maybe those things are going to be brought together and heard together," Raspanti explained.
At this point, there's no timeline on when the Grand Jury decision's might be made.
Joseph Raspanti says with so many allegations flying, at this point, it's best for both sides to go before a judge as soon as possible, to hash the issues out. According to our partners at nola dot com, the Times-Picayune, that will happen Wednesday.