Saturday, January 12, 2008

Maurice Wolin - wants case thrown out

The most prominent suspect from a televised child predator sting operation in Petaluma returned to court Thursday to ask a judge to throw out his case.

Dr. Maurice Wolin, a Piedmont cancer researcher whose woeful, August 2006 arrest was watched by millions on NBC's "To Catch a Predator" series, faces a charge of attempted child molestation.

A former medical director at Chiron in Emeryville, Wolin has launched the most aggressive fight among the 29 men charged from the three-day sting. Most others, including Mohammed Aksoum, 30, of Walnut Creek, have taken plea deals.

In a lengthy preliminary hearing in Sonoma County Superior Court last year, Wolin's attorney, Blair Berk, attacked the alliance of police, NBC and the paid online group Perverted Justice that conducted the sting, which was featured two episodes of the popular TV series.

Berk, whose client list includes actor Mel Gibson and oft-troubled actress Lindsay Lohan, challenged the accuracy of various transcripts of racy online chats that Wolin held with Perverted Justice leader Xavier Von Erck.

Wolin, 49, called himself "talldreamydoc." Von Erck, 28, went by "willowfilipino" and claimed to be a 13-year-old girl. Wolin has pleaded not guilty, arguing that Von Erck illegally badgered him into driving to the sting house and that he never intended or attempted to molest anyone.

Berk last year failed to sway Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Raima Ballinger, who held Wolin over for trial. Berk asked a different judge Thursday to review that ruling and dismiss the case. A decision is expected Jan. 31.

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