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Indicted Santa Clara Superior Court Judge William Danser was first investigated for fixing tickets for San Jose Sharks players as early as March 1997, according to a traffic commissioner’s testimony before the grand jury. The commissioner told the grand jury that a supervising judge conducted an investigation after Danser asked him to dismiss traffic and failure-to-appear charges against a San Jose Sharks player. The 987-page grand jury transcript released Thursday spells out the Santa Clara district attorney’s case against Danser, who allegedly fixed $4,700 worth of tickets between 2000 and 2002. It includes a suggestion that Danser’s wife — who is also a judge –was aware he was helping people with tickets. Danser was indicted in September on felony conspiracy and misdemeanor obstruction of justice counts for dismissing 20 tickets, for Sharks players and others, and arranging for more lenient sentencing in a pair of DUI cases. Danser’s alleged co-conspirator, Randall Bishop, is a former Los Gatos police detective who moonlighted as a security officer for the Sharks. Kenneth Robinson, Danser’s defense attorney, said Thursday that all the transcript shows is that the judge dismissed tickets in the interest of justice. “Since 1872, Penal Code Section 1385 has authorized judges to dismiss matters on their own initiative in furtherance of justice,” Robinson said. “Based upon information he received, that is all Judge Danser did. End of story. End of indictment. End of case.” Bishop’s attorney, Craig Brown, accused the DA of not presenting the grand jury with the whole truth, saying prosecutors failed to present evidence that would have explained his client’s actions. Assistant DA Karyn Sinunu declined to comment on the contents of the transcript. “Everything is going to be aired at trial,” she said. The grand jury heard from the 17 people who had traffic tickets dismissed by Danser and from one of two DUI defendants whose cases were transferred to Danser’s courtroom, where he doled out comparatively light, no-jail sentences. Several of the ticketed motorists testified that they simply asked the judge for advice and help with their tickets, usually at Little League games Danser attended, and had no idea they’d be dismissed. One witness testified he was Danser’s fitness instructor, while another testified that a stranger he met at a Los Gatos diner told him he could get his speeding ticket dismissed if he donated $200 to Little League. Many of the witnesses told the grand jury that they were guilty of offenses such as speeding or failing to wear a seat belt. “Do you believe that this ticket was justifiably dismissed?” Deputy DA David Pandori asked one witness. “As I understand the way everything works, probably not,” replied Todd Mayo, a Little League coach in Los Gatos whose wife’s speeding ticket was allegedly dismissed by Danser. “And am I embarrassed by this whole thing? A little,” Mayo said. Some of the athletes whose tickets were dismissed testified that Bishop had told players at team meetings to call him if they were in any sort of a bind. “He gave us a card — call if you guys are in trouble, if you need any help or assistance,” testified San Jose Earthquakes center Dwayne Derosario, who said he assumed his speeding ticket and failure-to-appear charge had been dismissed after he spoke with Bishop. The transcript also includes testimony that some judges were suspicious of Danser as early as 1997. Commissioner Gregory Saldivar testified that in March 1997, Danser asked him to dismiss traffic charges for then-Sharks player Tony Granato, adding that Danser explained that he’d spoken to a Los Gatos police officer about Granato’s case. According to Saldivar, Danser said Granato would pay his speeding ticket, but wanted failure-to-appear and driving without a license charges dismissed. The case was eventually resolved, though Saldivar didn’t say how. But he said he wrote a report on the incident at the request of a supervising judge, adding that Danser was contacted by the presiding judge at that time. Another witness, school teacher Stephanie Lynott, suggested that Danser’s wife — Santa Clara Superior Court Judge Catherine Gallagher — was at least aware that Danser was helping people with tickets. Lynott, who said she taught all three of Danser’s sons, testified that she called the family’s home when she received a notice in the mail that a seatbelt violation had turned into a failure to appear. She said Gallagher answered the phone. “When I explained to her what happened, she says: ‘You know, let me give that to Bill. I’m really not that familiar with it, but he would need –” “Who told you to get it to him?” Pandori interrupted. “His wife,” Lynott said. Pandori then told Lynott that a Commission on Judicial Performance investigation report indicated she’d spoken with Danser himself. “I never spoke to Judge Danser,” Lynott said. Gallagher didn’t return a message. In making his case to the grand jury, Pandori presented no evidence of Danser’s possible motives. But he argued that “a lot of the motive just seems to be oriented to the — a matter of status. ‘These are Sharks players; I’m going to help them out. I’m a big man. I can take care of those tickets.’”

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