In today's print issue of SF Weekly, we report on suggestions in previously unreleased court documents that San Francisco police officers lost track of an important attempted-murder witness while trying to scrounge up dirt on a private investigator. But the cops' use of questionable spy games against local P.I. Steve Vender -- who is now under indictment on a felony count of witness dissuasion -- wasn't the only news in the transcripts of the grand jury proceeding that led to Vender's indictment.
Vender's indictment was based on an October voicemail message he left for Ladarius Greer, who was shot by alleged Western Addition gangster Phil Pitney last April. In the voicemail, Vender told Greer, a witness in Pitney's upcoming attempted-murder trial, "It's a good time to visit the Fresno Riviera and stay well." Prosecutors now assert that the message was a criminal attempt to dissuade Greer from testifying.
No formal charges have been leveled against Safire, who was working as Pitney's defense attorney at the time. It is unclear what information led the grand jury to suggest further investigation of the defense attorney, other than the fact that he employed Vender. D.A. office spokesman Brian Buckelew said he could not comment on whether the investigation of Safire recommended by the grand jury is in fact proceeding.
Around the same time as the October phone call from Vender, Safire came under scrutiny for another incident in which he directed a group of men to stand up in court when a witness tried to finger his client as the shooter in a murder trial. Prosecutors alleged that the move was an attempt to intimidate the witness, though no charges against Safire were filed. Safire claimed it was an attempt to compensate for an unfair identification process that put his client, the defendant, at a disadvantage.
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