As San Diego’s pension dilemma spills over into many different courtrooms, it’s becoming more difficult to find an attorney that’s not linked to one of the several criminal and civil cases that are playing out.

Lori Chapin, the former pension system counsel indicted in January, was told by a federal judge Wednesday that she will need to find a new lawyer to represent her in the case.

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez dismissed Chapin’s attorney, Michael Attanasio, from the case because he had previously performed work on the pension issue – something that presented a possible conflict of interest.

Attanasio aided the city in turning over documents to investigators from the FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office and SEC. Federal prosecutor John Owens argued that Attanasio should be removed in case he had to be called as a witness to verify the authenticity of city documents that are used as evidence.

Several lawyers in the case said the dismissal of Attanasio will likely push back the trial date, which is currently set for Feb. 6, because Chapin’s next attorney will have to get up to speed in the case, which has been designated complex by the judge.

Federal prosecutors have brought fraud and conspiracy charges against Chapin, retirement system administrator Larry Grissom, former Assistant City Auditor Terri Webster, former city Human Resources Director Cathy Lexin and firefighters union president Ron Saathoff for their roles in a 2002 agreement between the city and its retirement system. Read more about the indictments here.


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