Landlords' Lawyers Refute Sex Charges

Gregory Wesley of The Daily Californian staff contributed to this report.





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Lawyers for Berkeley landlord Lakireddy Bali Reddy and his son Vijay Kumar Lakireddy have released a torrent of refutations against federal charges alleging they arranged illegal immigrations of Indian girls for sex.

According to papers filed in a federal court last week, federal investigators have requested handwriting and voice samples for both defendants.

The request stems from testimony by City Attorney Manuela Albuquerque at last month's bail hearing that Reddy had not called 911 after the Nov. 24 carbon monoxide poisoning death of Chanti Jyotsna Devi Prattipati. Federal officials allege Reddy arranged for the illegal immigration of Prattipati under the false name Sitha Vemireddy.

Albuquerque testified that the men were apparently preparing to stow the body in a van owned by Reddy Realty, along with a screaming woman they were "dragging" out of the building.

But Ted Cassman, Reddy's attorney, argued that Reddy did call 911. He said Albuquerque's statements were false and "in utter disregard to the truth."

"Ms. Albuquerque's misleading portrayal of a harrowing, near kidnap of the stricken young women contributed to the media frenzy which has surrounded and continues to surround this case," Cassman said in court documents. "For these reasons, we bring this matter to the court's attention and ask that Ms. Albuquerque be referred for disciplinary proceedings before this court."

But Albuquerque said yesterday her information is based on what police tell her, and that police did not know about the additional phone call until a later date.

"When I filed papers on behalf of the Berkeley Police Department, they didn't know they had this additional call," Albuquerque said. "If Mr. Cassman thought they were leaving out any information about the additional call, how come no one said anything?"

Albuquerque also called Cassman's accusations a "cheap shot."

"Mr. Cassman is personalizing the case by attacking me," she said. "I think this is just a ploy to deflect attention from the serious charges against his client and it's unfortunate."

Cassman did not return phone calls yesterday.

In additional papers filed this week, Cassman said federal investigators have overlooked significant details in their inquiry into Reddy's alleged importation of Indian girls into the United States for sexual purposes.

Cassman argues that Prattipati's sister, who authorities alleged Reddy also molested, is not a minor. Previous records had listed the younger sister, whose real name has not been released, as 16 years old.

Cassman requested the government release the name of the younger sister to "ensure my client's right to due process of law."

Also this week, attorneys for both defendants filed a motion requesting that charges against the two men be more fully defined. The lawyers argue the indictments do not disclose enough information about the nature of the charges, such as the names and ages of alleged victims or the dates of alleged offenses.

They also requested that a bill of particulars be issued to provide more details about the charges.

A hearing has been set before Judge Saundra Armstrong Apr. 11 to consider the request for a bill of particulars and a motion to dismiss.

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