A former San Diego deputy district attorney was
placed on interim suspension early this year after pleading guilty to
one count of grand theft, a charge that resulted from conducting his
real estate business out of his office. PETER JAMES LONGANBACH
[#48988], 56, of Rancho Santa Fe, who once headed the DA's
economic fraud unit, lost his license Jan. 7.
Longanbach quit his job two years ago after state
investigators searched his home and office at the San Diego Hall of
Justice as part of an investigation into his financial dealings.
Although he could have been sentenced to three
years in prison, Longanbach was ordered last month to spend 350 hours
teaching underprivileged children to play golf and to organize a
charity golf tournament. San Diego Superior Court Judge Kenneth So
also placed Longanbach on probation for three years and ordered him to
spend one day in jail.
After a 17-month investigation by the attorney
general, Longan-bach was indicted by a grand jury last year on 12
felony charges including misuse of public funds, grand theft and
embezzlement. The investigation was launched when two secretaries
complained he was forcing them to work on his personal business during
Transcripts of the grand jury testimony showed he
used employees to type personal letters, prepare leases for rental
properties and run errands. One secretary testified she sometimes
spent between 50 and 75 percent of her work time on Longanbach's
personal business. An avid golfer, he also was investigated for
playing golf during work hours, but was never charged with that
In a plea bargain reached with the attorney
general, Longanbach wrote, "I used San Diego district attorney staff
to prepare personal documents. I used San Diego district attorney's
office fax, copy machine and telephone equipment for personal
purposes, and I worked on private matters during district attorney
As part of the agreement, he will pay San Diego
County $25,000 in restitution. The judge said he opted for probation
rather than prison because Longanbach had never before been convicted
of a crime.
Over the course of the investigation, 34
witnesses testified before the grand jury, most of them fellow
The grand theft plea was the culmination of
Longanbach's legal woes, which began following his successful
prosecution of a 1996 murder trial. An appeals court overturned the
defendant's second-degree murder conviction two years later, citing
a legal error by the judge.
A second trial was held amid allegations by the
defense attorney that Longanbach coached a key witness to lie. The
witness admitted she perjured herself and Longanbach, called as a
witness, took the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination and
refused to answer questions.
The defendant was found guilty last year of the
less serious charge of involuntary manslaughter by a second jury. He
subsequently filed a federal lawsuit against Longanbach and the
district attorney's office, charging that the former prosecutor
engaged in criminal conduct to win a murder conviction.
As a result of the murder case, Longanbach became
the subject of a separate criminal investigation by the attorney
In addition, a San Diego Superior Court judge
ruled in 2000 that Longanbach committed prosecutorial misconduct in a
1998 grand theft and forgery case. Judge Judith Hayes said he
"willfully violated both the spirit and the letter" of the law
requiring disclosure of evidence.
Longanbach's name is playing a prominent role
in this month's primary election for district attorney in San Diego,
where Paul Pfingst, seeking a third four-year term, faces a challenge
from three other candidates.
Pfingst's opponents say he failed to discipline
Longanbach properly when allegations were made against him in 1998,
pointing to the investigation that included a raid on the DA's
downtown offices seeking evidence. In addition, they criticize Pfingst
for giving Longanbach a raise when he knew about the secretaries'