More than a year ago, an up-and-coming defense lawyer named Randy Richardson stood before a jury and belittled the lead investigator behind three counts of attempted murder against Richardson's client, Chris Lambert.
Richardson told the jury that Officer Pete McConnell--who probed the shooting--may be a nice guy, but he is no detective and lacked the qualifications to sleuth out the right culprit.
Today, Richardson has reason to rue those words.
Since last March, McConnell, a Portland Police Bureau officer, has spearheaded an investigation of dubious testimony in the Lambert case. That probe lies at the center of a historic Portland prosecution: the first lawyer charged with bribing a witness in 15 years. And this is no ordinary lawyer. Richardson was once a star prosecutor for the Multnomah County district attorney's office (see "Randy Richardson was a hotshot criminal-defense lawyer. Now he needs one," WW, May 28, 2003).
Now, police reports obtained by WW provide new details of McConnell's case against Richardson.
Last February, Lambert stood trial for firing several bullets at a crowd of people. Lambert's girlfriend, Jennifer Napolitano, testified that she was with Lambert elsewhere at the time of the shooting.
But Napolitano also claimed she saw a high-school friend for the first time in years that night. So McConnell tracked down that friend, Samoya Morrison. She said Napolitano's testimony was not true.
Morrison told McConnell that Napolitano and "a lawyer" called her and tried to stop her from testifying. Confronted by McConnell, Napolitano reported receiving letters from Lambert telling her what to say on the stand. When she balked at the suggestion, Richardson offered her money--and also added new details to her story, she said. Napolitano claims Richardson later gave her $300 in cash.
A friend of Lambert's admitted giving the $300 to Richardson's assistant. The same witness also said the money was used to pay Napolitano.
A second alibi witness, Quadree Bradley, told McConnell that he also lied on the stand, telling a "story" that Richardson "laid out" for him.
Another friend of Lambert's, Brandon Jenkins, told McConnell he received a letter from Lambert asking him to give false testimony on his behalf. Shortly thereafter, Jenkins says he got a phone call from Richardson. When Jenkins told the lawyer he would not lie, Richardson stressed the amount of jail time faced by Lambert, who was ultimately convicted.
In August, McConnell interviewed LaTonya Bates. Bates said that in a separate case, Richardson arranged to give her $500 for not testifying in a domestic violence charge she'd leveled against her ex-husband, Richardson's client.
Richardson's trial is scheduled for October. He faces 18 counts of witness tampering, bribery and other misconduct.