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|March 2, 2000|
Reddy lawyer asks court to discipline lawyer for city
R S Shankar
Manuela Albuquerque draws attention in Oakland courts not just because she is often seen in a sari. She also happens to be one of the most persuasive of lawyers working for the city of Berkeley.
But to defense attorneys Ted Cassman and George Cotsirilos, who represent wealthy landlord Lakireddy Bali Reddy and his son Vijay Kumar, she is not to be trusted. They have asked the United States District Court in Oakland to discipline her for the alleged misleading statement she made in court in opposing bail for Reddy.
She had told the court that Reddy had not sought medical help for an illegal immigrant who had died in his apartment.
Reddy and his son are charged with, among other things, bringing in teenage girls from India for cheap labor. Father and son have refuted the allegations.
One of the girls died of carbon monoxide poisoning in the last week of November. Her sister, who was found unconscious in the same apartment, was treated for a few hours in hospital. She is currently under the protective custody of the authorities.
It transpired later that the girls were brought into America under the pretense they were the daughters of a man who obtained a H1-B visa, meant for high tech workers, through Reddy's son. The man, who reportedly is not qualified for the visa, ended up washing dishes at the Indian restaurant Reddy owned. He has been taken into custody by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Albuquerque had opposed Reddy's bail application, warning the court that he was not only a flight risk but he could influence potential witnesses.
She also told the authorities that eight girls who were cleaning Reddy's apartments had disappeared the day he was arrested in early January. It was implied that that the girls were illegal residents and they had been shipped back to India by Reddy's associates.
Partly because of her persuasive argument, the court raised the bail amount to $ 10 million and put severe restrictions on Reddy's movements. His son, who is also out on bail, has severe restrictions regarding his movements. He cannot drink, nor can he go near an airport or railway station.
Reddy's lawyer told the court that his client or one of the males who knew him had called 911 to report the carbon monoxide leak and ask for help. Earlier reports from testimony in court and eyewitnesses had suggested that workers for Reddy had tried to hush up the incident.
But his lawyer, Cassman, asserted in court this week that Albuquerque had misled the judge with her version in which Reddy never sought help for the girls.
Albuquerque stood by her account. She told the court that a passerby who sought to call 911 was told by Reddy that it was none of her business.
She told the court this week that the complaint against her was a 'desperate defense attorney litigation ploy to deflect attention away from serious charges against their clients.' She also said there was no definite evidence that Reddy made the 911 call.
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