A former top civil lawyer for the Santa Cruz County Attorney’s Office is facing criminal charges in Oro Valley after allegedly misrepresenting herself as a county employee and interfering with police as they responded to a domestic violence call.
Leslie Spira, 52, who was fired by County Attorney George Silva in May, has been charged with impersonating a public servant, providing false information to police and obstructing government operations, according to Oro Valley Municipal Court records and police reports.
According to the police reports, Oro Valley police officers responded at about 11 p.m. on July 9 to an apartment complex at 10333 N. Oracle Road, where a neighbor had reported a domestic violence incident.
After arriving, the officers made contact with Kristi Pesqueira, who currently works at the S.C. Co. Attorney’s Office as a legal secretary.
Pesqueira reportedly led the officers to an apartment where she said her husband Ted was located, and where an altercation had occurred between him and her adult son, who had left earlier with a friend.
“Kristi went inside the apartment and another female immediately came outside and began questioning us as to why we were there,” Oro Valley Police Officer Michael Gracie wrote in his report. “This female, later identified as Leslie Spira, initially refused to identify herself for nearly the entire hour and 10 minutes that we were on scene with her. Leslie stated she was Ted’s attorney ‘on retainer’ and that she had a right to know why we needed to speak with him.
Another officer, Timothy Nelson, wrote in his report that he heard Spira tell a fellow officer that she was the chief civil deputy attorney for Santa Cruz County.
“She also stated that she had paperwork in her office that gave her permission to take on private clients,” Nelson wrote. “She stated that the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors had given her permission to take on private clients.”
When Ted eventually began speaking with officers, Gracie wrote, Spira repeatedly interrupted to answer for him.
“Leslie was advised to refrain from doing this as she was interfering with our investigation,” Gracie wrote. However, she allegedly refused to step aside, go back into the apartment, identify herself or stop asking the officers why were in the area.
“Instead, Leslie identified herself as the chief civil deputy of Santa Cruz County and as having been a lawyer for 24 years,” he wrote. “Leslie repeatedly regaled officers with the names of her co-workers to include Sheriff Tony Estrada of Santa Cruz County, whom we could call to both confirm her identity as chief civil deputy and who would assist her in officially complaining about our unprofessionalism as officers.”
Gracie wrote in his report that based on his experience, he believed that Spira had been drinking. However, when he asked her about it, she allegedly said: “I had a drink almost six hours ago … but I don’t drink.”
Nelson noted in his report that the incident had been recorded on audio and video, and that the recordings had been burned to a DVD for use as evidence.
Spira did not immediately respond to a voice mail message left on a cell phone number that the Nogales International has used to contact her since her firing.
Silva, the county attorney, dismissed Spira for unspecified reasons on May 6. She had worked at his office since January 2007.
Lt. John Teachout, spokesman for the Oro Valley Police Department, said no one other than Spira had been cited as a result of the July 9 incident. However, Silva said he is conducting an internal investigation of Pesqueira’s involvement.
Court records show that Spira is scheduled for an initial appearance at Oro Valley Municipal Court on Aug. 15.