A seven-count indictment against attorney Charles F. Daum, 64, who has an office located in Capitol Hill, was unsealed yesterday. Filed on April 12, the indictment says Daum went too far defending a client in March 2008. (Calls to Daum’s office weren’t returned.)
While defense attorneys are certainly expected to mount a strong and creative defense on behalf of criminals, court papers say Daum became one himself. Among other charges, he allegedly launched a plan to manufacture evidence and tamper with a witness.
The client he allegedly went rogue for was an alleged crack dealer, Delante White.White was arrested after the Metropolitan Police Department served a search warrant on White’s grandmother’s house on Hamlin Street NE on Feb. 23, 2008, and turned up crack, a handgun, and some ammunition.
Hoping to call into question whether his client actually lived in the room the crack was found in, Daum had supposedly recruited two local investigators, Daiyyah Pasha and Iman Pasha, to stage photographs of White’s brother depicted with stuff found during MPD’s raid.
The stand-in was also depicted cutting what looked like crack, court papers say. The photos were entered as evidence during the trial, and the two investigators have also been indicted.
On the witness tampering front, Daum allegedly sent White to tell a witness to leave town. On Sept. 30, a mistrial was declared because a jury couldn’t agree on a verdict in White’s case. According to court transcripts, White’s mother turned Daum in afterwards.
Defense lawyer G. Allen Dale says he knows Daum and “would be shocked if the allegations were true.” (Daum has been a member of the D.C. bar since 1978.) As a favor to the court, Dale briefly stepped in during White’s trial in order to help with conflicts between Daum and White. “I’m going to presume that the allegations are wrong until someone proves different,” Dale says.
The investigators could face up to five years in prison if convicted; Daum could face decades. In a statement, David Schertler, who’s Daum’s attorney, says the lawyer is “shocked by the allegations made in the indictment and adamantly denies the charges. He also says those charges “threaten to chill the important work done by all criminal defense attorneys in our ethical obligation to zealously defend our clients.”
Though the hung jury could have led to a new trial, the DOJ and White’s current attorney have declined to comment on where White’s case stands. Court records indicate there aren’t any pending hearings.