Judge: Allegations “Completely Without Merit”
(Lawrenceburg, Ind.) – A Dearborn County judge will not be removed from the criminal case concerning the owner of Acapulco’s Mexican Restaurants.
Adolfo Lopez, of Greendale, was arrested in September when Indiana Excise Police raided his restaurants across southeast Indiana. Lopez is accused of Corrupt Business Influence, Conspiracy to Commit Corrupt Business Influence, Forgery, Perjury, and Identity Deception. He remains in jail on a $3 million surety and $250,000 cash bond.
Last month, Lopez’s defense lawyer, Lawrenceburg attorney Doug Garner, had motioned for Dearborn Circuit Court Judge James D. Humphrey to remove himself from the case. The request followed Humphrey’s denial of a lower bond for Lopez.
About 100 people were arrested during the September restaurant raids. Garner’s motion alleged the county prosecutor was conspiring with Humphrey to control of who is released on bond in the Acapulco’s case.
“Judge Humphrey acquiesced or participated in a procedure employed by Mr. Negagnard to use bond as a tool of law enforcement to obtain statements from co-defendants Mr. Negangard would have been otherwise unable to obtain,” Garner’s motion stated.
Garner argued that Humphrey was biased in favor of the prosecutor, who successfully tried a 2011 case in which Humphrey and his family were the victims. In that case, Internet blogger Dan Brewington made threatening statements on his blog regarding Humphrey, who had presided over Brewington’s child custody case.
Negangard earned a conviction against Brewington in the jury trial and the blogger was sentenced by a special judge to five years in prison. Brewington is currently appealing the conviction to the Indiana Court of Appeals.
In an order denying Garner’s motion for judge removal, Humphrey called the allegations “unreasonable, unwarranted, and without justification.” The Lopez and Brewington cases have no connection and the Brewington case ended in Dearborn County over a year ago, Humphrey said.
“(The court) finds that Defandant’s Motion filed herein for Removal of Circuit Court Judge is completely without merit and not worthy of hearing or further consideration,” Humphrey wrote in the order.
Humphrey’s court also provided Garner’s motion for judge removal to the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications. That commission investigates allegations of judicial ethical misconduct, prosecutes violations of the Code of Judicial Conduct, and advises judges and judicial candidates about their ethical obligations.
Lopez’s case is still on pace for a February 4th jury trial. In a January 2 court filing, Garner indicated the trial will last at least four weeks.
A translator has been requested by Garner to appear at all future court hearings for Adolfo Lopez and his wife, Maria, who faces similar charges.
Lopez has appealed his $3 million bond to the Indiana Court of Appeals.