Bruce Nestande pleads not guilty to lying to an ins*rance company about his alleged role in a drunken driving incident.
By LARRY WELBORN
The Orange County Register
Thursday, December 14, 2006
SANTA ANA – Former Orange County Supervisor and state assemblyman Bruce Nestande pleaded not guilty today to a felony charge of lying to an ins*rance company about his alleged role in a drunken driving incident.
Nestande, 68, of Lido Island, is also charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence and hit-and-run with property damage. He was allowed to remain free on his own recognizance pending a Jan. 27 pre-trial hearing in Orange County Superior Court.
He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted, but he also could be placed on probation.
Nestande was sent a letter on Nov. 17 advising him of the charges, and was allowed to surrender in Superior Court today, said Deputy District Attorney Karen Schatzle.
The Aug. 10 incident began when Nestande – who has a prior drunken driving conviction in 1997 – asked an employee of the Cannery Restaurant in Newport Beach to drive him home after he consumed dinner and wine, according to Ron Bower, his lawyer.
A second restaurant employee followed, driving Nestande's Land Rover. But after safely arriving home, Nestande realized that the Land Rover was not parked legally, Brower said.
And when Nestande moved his car, he accidentally hit a parked car, Brower said.
"Bruce tried to find out who the owner of the other car was," Brower said. "When he could not locate the owner, he parked his car legally and went home to bed. When he got up the next day, the other car was gone."
Nestande was not contacted by Newport Beach police, who responded to the scene of the crash that night, Schatzle said.
And then two weeks later, Nestande allegedly tried to distance himself from the alcohol-related collision in front of his house by making up a story where he explained that the damage to his car was caused during an accident at a different time and in a parking lot, Schatzle added.
Newport Beach detectives have talked with the employees at the Cannery who drove Nestande home, and have obtained a copy of his bill.
But Brower said it will be difficult to prove that his client was under the influence of alcohol because there was no field sobriety test or blood test taken that night.
Nestande was a protégé of former president Ronald Reagan who served three terms in the California Assemblymen from 1974 to 1980, when he was elected to the county board of supervisors.
He won re-election in 1984, but resigned two years later during a political corruption investigation of W. Patrick Moriarty, one of his campaign donors. Nestande was never charged or indicted in connection with the Moriarty investigation.
Nestande was also once a losing Republican candidate for California Secretary of State. He has worked as a political lobbyist for most of the last 20 years. In 2005, Nestande was a paid consultant for Irvine for advice concerning the development of The Great Park.
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