Mehrdad Fotoohighiam escaped an attempt to have him thrown back in jail for violations of the bond conditions that allowed him to go free Tuesday.
During a hearing in Special Judge Steven Ohmer's chambers Thursday, Ohmer decided not to rule immediately on a prosecutor's request to have Fotoohighiam's bond revoked. Fotoohighiam, who is charged with first-degree conspiracy to have a judge and another person killed, along with other crimes, was released on his own recognizance Monday after spending more than five years in jail.
His release was contingent upon strict conditions set by Ohmer. He was ordered to have no contact whatsoever with anyone other than his attorney and representatives of Adult Court Services.
On Wednesday morning, though, Fotoohighiam called Special Prosecutor Philip Groenweghe's office and spoke to his paralegal, falsely asserting that all cases against him had been closed and asking to get his property back, the paralegal testified Thursday.
Groenweghe asked the paralegal if she feared for her safety, given Fotoohighiam's history. She said she does. Groenweghe said he fears for his own safety, as does Circuit Judge Jeff Harris, one of the people Fotoohighiam is charged with conspiring to have killed, and other people with connections to that case and others involving Fotoohighiam.
The prosecutor alleged Fotoohighiam is trying to have evidence in his case destroyed.
"Did he want us to send back the passports he's not supposed to have? Did he want us to send the guns back that he's not supposed to have?" Groenweghe asked. "Or did he just want us to send back evidence so we couldn't prosecute the case?"
Groenweghe pleaded with Ohmer to put Fotoohighiam back in jail and said Adult Court Services no longer wants to supervise him.
"You sat down with him and you told him: 'These are the conditions. I will not tolerate any violations. You will be revoked if you violate this and sent to jail,'" he reminded the judge.
"I take this seriously. I don't need my staff being intimidated by this guy," Groenweghe said, later adding that he thinks "someone is gonna get hurt or killed." He described Fotoohighiam as "out of control, or he's deliberately testing you to see how far he can go with this."
Greg Smith, Fotoohighiam's attorney, tried to explain his client's conduct, saying he had neither his phone nor his driver's license when he was released from jail. He also had just lost his home, which was sold the day before his release. He conceded Fotoohighiam had violated conditions of his bond.
Ohmer blasted Fotoohighiam repeatedly. "Mehrdad, you're just stupid. I don't know how else to put it to you," he said.
Groenweghe also called attention to a letter Fotoohighiam sent to several judges, including Harris. Smith and Ohmer agreed that it technically did not constitute a violation of his bond, given that it was sent from the jail before he was released.
Ohmer nevertheless was displeased with the letter, one of many Fotoohighiam has sent to the court.
"This is no different than I've been getting since he's been locked up, going through his litany of complaints about the jail and how he's being treated, and blah, blah, blah. It's the same old baloney.... and Mehrdad, you're your own worst enemy, and I'm kinda tired of dealing with you."
Smith said he has told his client that he will cease to represent him if he continues sending letters to the court.
Groenweghe also noted that the only reason he knew of Fotoohighiam's bond violation is that he called his office.
"I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts he's been calling a lot of other people he's not supposed to be calling as well," he said.
Ohmer took the motion to revoke bond under submission and said he could rule on it at any time. Fotoohighiam's next hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. June 3 in Ohmer's chambers in St. Louis.