Sentencing delayed for attorney convicted of DUI, bribery

How many lawyers does it take to delay the criminal sentencing of an attorney?

A Palo Alto attorney who was convicted last summer of trying to bribe Colma cops out of a DUI arrest was not sentenced as scheduled Thursday, according to prosecutors, after his appointment of a new attorney postponed that outcome until at least November.

Richard Chae, 39, who was found guilty in June of offering Colma officers $35,000 to ignore his drunken driving, hired San Francisco attorney Paul Demeester to represent him before he was set to be sentenced Thursday, prosecutors said.

However, the hearing was postponed because Demeester has been tied up with a high-profile federal case involving Deborah Madden, a disgraced former San Francisco crime lab technician who is accused of skimming cocaine from evidence.

And there’s a chance that Chae, who has been out of custody on his own recognizance, won’t be sentenced in November, either. After two trials, prosecutors said, Chae plans to request a retrial at the Nov. 6 sentencing hearing.

Chae’s long and winding saga began about 2:40 a.m. Feb. 26, 2010, when Colma police officers pulled over the patent attorney’s vehicle. Chae reportedly made three separate offers to the cops — first pulling $900 out of his pocket, then offering $5,000 and finally $35,000 to let him go.

He had two previous DUI convictions, seven and eight years ago, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said.

After his 2010 arrest, a police search uncovered $1,055 cash in his pocket, along with $135 in chips from Colma’s Lucky Chances card room.

After a five-day trial that ended Nov. 18 of last year, a jury found Chae guilty of drunken driving, but deadlocked on the bribery charge. Eight of the 12 jurors believed he was guilty of bribing police, Wagstaffe said.

Prosecutors retried the bribery charge, and the jury returned a guilty verdict after a three-day trial.

Chae is out of custody on the condition that he not use alcohol or drugs or drive, Wagstaffe said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

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