SANTA ANA, Calif. – A criminal defense attorney was sentenced to 90 days in jail today for submitting altered psychological reports to the Orange County District Attorney's Office (OCDA) and Orange County Superior Court in a sexual assault case. David Robert Cohn, 51, Coto De Caza, pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of deceit or collusion by an attorney. Cohn was also sentenced to three years of probation, required to pay $1,000 in fines, and ordered to donate $10,000 to the Victim Witness Emergency Fund. Cohn must also abide by any punishment, rule or order issued by the California State Bar.
In 2012, Cohn was a criminal defense attorney in the case of People v. Carmelo Sanchez Flores (Case # 12NF1891), a sexual assault case involving a victim under the age of 14. Cohn retained psychologist Veronica Thomas, Ph.D. to prepare a psycho-sexual evaluation report of Flores, which Thomas wrote. The report prepared by Dr. Thomas was dated Oct. 11, 2012.
On Dec. 14, 2012, Cohn had a pre-trial meeting with the deputy district attorney assigned to the case and gave him an altered version of Dr. Thomas' report, which was dated Dec. 13, 2012, in an attempt to resolve the case and/or obtain a pre-trial offer from the OCDA.
The case proceeded and pre-trial motions were scheduled to begin in November 2013. On Nov. 11, 2013, Cohn submitted another altered version of Dr. Thomas' report, dated Nov. 8, 2013, to the court in an email, and the following day it was filed with the court. Notwithstanding the altered psychological report used by Cohn at trial, Flores was ultimately convicted and sentenced to 36 years to life in state prison on Feb. 28, 2014.
The OCDA conducted a thorough investigation into the matter after the conclusion of the trial and found that Cohn had altered Dr. Thomas' report on two separate occasions. Cohn removed substantial and material items from the report that could be deemed as unfavorable to Flores and inserted items that would present Flores more favorably in the case. The OCDA investigation also concluded that the changes to the reports were not authorized or approved by Dr. Thomas.
Attorneys are officers of the court and swear an oath that states in part, “As an officer of the court, I will strive to conduct myself at all times with dignity, courtesy, and integrity,” (California Rules of Court, Rule 9.4, Business and Professions Code section 6067).
Senior Deputy District Attorney Robert Mestman of the Special Prosecutions Unit prosecuted this case.
Orange County District Attorney / Case # 15CM08004 / November 09, 2015