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SAN JOSE � A defense attorney charged with contempt during a high-profile fraud trial apologized Friday to the judge. Peter Furst, of San Francisco’s Furst & Pendergast, delivered a letter to Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Paul Bernal during a brief hearing. According to a lawyer for Furst, the letter apologizes and calls Furst’s allegedly over-the-line questioning an aberration. “I ask you to accept that the words I put in there are what I truly feel,” Furst told Bernal. The letter was not released. Defense attorney Edward Sousa, a San Jose solo, said the contempt charge has been “hanging over [Furst's head] for more than three months,” adding that his client wanted to resolve the case quickly but needed to wait for him to read through more than 1,000 pages of transcripts. “I think what happened was an uncharacteristic breach in his otherwise exemplary courtroom behavior,” Sousa said of the veteran defense lawyer, who has previously defended law enforcement officers in criminal cases. “He intends to apologize to the court immediately and see if we can move on,” Sousa said. Bernal did not indicate when he would rule, saying he has to review the letter. Furst was charged with contempt in late May for allegedly asking a witness prohibited questions during the trial of his client, former Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Lt. Armand Tiano, and five co-defendants. Bernal accused Furst of trying to bring up a witness’s past criminal history during the jury trial. The six defendants are facing charges of setting up a fraudulent charity and spending the proceeds for their own benefit. Bernal has said that Furst was repeatedly warned about the questions but continued to press the witness. Late last week, Sousa blamed the incident on the duration and complexity of the Tiano trial. The trial opened in March and is scheduled to continue into late fall. He also said that Furst has been living in a hotel while defending Tiano. “It’s hard enough being in a long trial but to be away from home [is more difficult],” Sousa told Bernal. Sousa added that Furst has “not been defiant,” and wrote a “genuine and heartfelt apology.” The defendants allegedly spent most of the $3.6 million they raised on expensive items like cars and artwork.

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