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Attorney Molfetta has been a part of numerous prominent cases across the country. He started his illustrious career when he became a Deputy District Attorney with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office in 1991. As a prosecutor, he was assigned to several trial positions including the Domestic Violence Unit (currently known as the Family Protection Unit), and the Gang Unit. Mr. Molfetta tried over 100 cases as a prosecutor and was named “1994 Prosecutor of the Year”.

He left the District Attorney’s Office in the summer of 1996 to join the firm Turner, Cooper, and Reynolds. After a brief stint as a civil litigator,

 Mr. Molfetta returned to the practice of criminal law in 1997 as a criminal defense attorney and has since dedicated his career to representing clients charged with committing criminal offenses. His client list is diverse and includes corporations, officers and board members of corporations, professional athletes, judges, police officers, lawyers, and doctors. Mr. Molfetta has secured “Not Guilty” verdicts in 9 of 12 felony trials in the last two years and in the remaining cases, was able to significantly reduce his clients’ charges.

Top Cases

Attempted Murder Charge acquitted

In 2018, Jose Luisvallad Trujillo, a diligent handyman, found himself under arrest in Orange County, for charges of attempted murder of his neighbor, Mr. Cuellar. Additionally, he faced allegations of personal firearm use, inflicting significant bodily harm, and discharging a firearm resulting in severe injury. The resulting sentence would have been life in prison.

The defense contended that Mr. Trujillo did not have the requisite intent to kill the alleged victim, and even if the jury disagreed, the intent was formed as a result of Mr. Trujillo defending himself and his family. The prosecution also sought the alternate charge of attempted manslaughter, the jury found Mr. Trujillo not guilty of that charge as well. 

vanished at sea

In one of Orange County’s most chilling and memorable murders, Attorney Molfetta defended Jennifer Deleon after she was accused of helping her husband to murder a Newport Beach based couple, Thomas and Jackie Hawks. Two books, Vanished at Sea by Tina Dirmann and Dead Reckoning by Caitlin Rother, were written about this case.

Kidnap-Torture of marijuana dispensary

Attorney Molfetta defended Ryan Kevorkian in the case of a kidnap and torture of a pot dispensary owner. Kervorkian was part of the group that planned to steal $1 million from a Southern Californian marijuana dispensary owner who was kidnapped, tortured, and castrated. Kervorkian pleaded guilty to kidnapping, burglary, and assault. He initially faced life in prison without the possibility of parole, but was sentenced to twelve years in state prison. Kevorkian was also granted the time he had already spent in prison. This was one of the most grisly crimes in Orange County history.

Defrauding the federal government

Six electronics companies were indicted on allegations of defrauding eRate, the $2.25 billion-a-year federal program that subsidizes internet access in the nation’s schools and libraries. Some of those indicted were accused of submitting fraudulent documents to the government and being overcompensated for equipment headed to school districts in various states (Arkansas, California, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Wisconsin). Others were accused of rigging bids and charging the government for items not covered under the program.

Attorney Molfetta defended one of the indicted companies, Howe Electric Inc. of Fresno. The allegations painted a broad brush over the assertions of several people who were either making assumptions or flat out misrepresenting what occurred.

NFL Player arrested

Duval Love, an offensive lineman for 3 teams (Rams, Steelers, Cardinals) during a 12 year NFL career, was arrested on federal drug conspiracy charges. He was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute 11 pounds of cocaine, one count of conspiracy to distribute MDMA or Ecstasy, and two counts of aiding another person in attempts to distribute cocaine and Ecstasy. His cocaine related charges carry a maximum penalty of life in prison and ecstasy charges carry a maximum of 20 years. 

Love gave money to a business partner and the partner used those funds for illegal activity without his knowledge. Love pleaded innocent and was released on a $100,000 bond.

Date-rape case dropped

Former Olympic ice dancer Oksana “Pasha” Grishuk accused James Halstead of slipping a date-rape drug into her drink. Halstead thinks the partially dissolved pills Grishuk reported finding in 2 drinks were put there by the skater herself. The pills tested positive for Nimetazepam (similar to the date rape drug GHB) but toxicology tests of Grishuk’s blood showed no trace of drugs.

Halstead was charged with a felony count of administering a drug. Halstead believes Grishuk slipped the pill in her own drink when he left to use the restroom. It is believed that the two had some kind of romantic relationship although Grishuk denies any romance and insists their relationship was related to business deals only.

At prosecutors’ request, a judge dismissed the case. Investigators in OC DA’s office concluded they could not prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Murder in orange county

One of Attorney Molfetta’s first high-profile cases was representing Hugh McDonald, a prominent local civil lawyer who was accused of the murder of Janie Pang, the wife of a financier who had used McDonald for civil legal services. 

The assailant in the murder, which occurred in the Pangs’ Villa Park home, was seen by a neighbor driving a maroon sedan. A composite was generated and the police claimed the likeness matched McDonald, who had been seen renting such a car at John Wayne Airport on the day of the crime.

Attorney Molfetta felt that the story did not add up and it was later found that Danny Pang had ties to Asian organized crime and terrorist groups and was considered the primary suspect in his wife’s murder until he died in 2009 . Hugh McDonald was acquitted on all counts.

Short-Sale homeowner scheme

Agustin Iran Bello, a 43-year-old former real estate salesman, ripped off several Orange County homeowners of more than $1 million in a short-sale scheme. He would find victim buyers for properties that were not his to sell, and then sell the same properties over and over to different investors.

Bello faced six years in prison, but his sentence was reduced when he paid off $188,000 in restitution. Molfetta defended Bello, and his case came to a resolution by Bello avoiding jail altogether with a suspension period of three years and eight months as long as he stayed out of trouble.   

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