Mehrdad Fotoohighiam’s bond has been revoked, and he was taken into custody after violating conditions of the bond Special Judge Steven Ohmer granted him in early May.
Ohmer ordered Fotoohighiam back to jail after a hearing Wednesday morning. He was being held in the St. Louis City Justice Center on Thursday afternoon pending his transfer back to the Boone County Jail, where he had been held for more than four years before Ohmer released him on his own recognizance.
Also Wednesday, Ohmer granted attorney Gregory Smith's motion to withdraw as Fothoohighiam's counsel, found Fotoohighiam indigent and ordered the Boone County Public Defender's Office to represent him. Smith's withdrawal came three months after attorney Scott Rosenblum withdrew from the case, saying Fotoohighiam refused to follow his advice.
Smith's motion offered no reason for withdrawing.
Fotoohighiam faces charges of first-degree conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, tampering with a witness and conspiracy to tamper with a witness. Court records indicate he is accused of trying to hire people to kill his ex-wife and Circuit Judge Jeff Harris.
In his motion to revoke Fotoohighiam's bond, special prosecutor Philip Groenweghe cited several violations of the conditions Ohmer set. He wrote that the day after Fotoohighiam’s release from jail on May 4, he contacted the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office by telephone despite being ordered to have no contact with the prosecutor. He told a paralegal at the office that all the cases against him had been dismissed and asked that personal property be returned to him.
Groenweghe filed his first motion to revoke bond for Fotoohighiam after that violation, but Ohmer declined to rule and took it under advisement. He reminded the defendant that he was not allowed to contact anyone other than his attorney or Adult Court Services, or to have other people communicate with others on his behalf.
On May 14, Groenweghe wrote in his latest motion, a claim filed with an insurance policy in the name of Fotoohighiam's ex-wife, Hedieh Fotoohighiam, was initiated against Lititz Mutual Insurance Co. It falsely claimed that $152,000 worth of property awarded to Hedieh Fotoohighiam under the terms of their divorce decree was stolen from their home at 5503 Carrick Court, Groenweghe wrote.
A follow-up email was sent May 22 from the email address Fotoohighiam was allowed to use to contact his attorney. The email was signed by Steve Randolph, with whom the defendant was living, "on behalf of Dr. Fotoohighiam."
"Of course there is every reason to believe that Defendant actually sent this communication," Groenweghe wrote, adding that a claims adjuster had forwarded the file to the Optima Special Investigations Unit, which looks into fraudulent insurance claims.
Boone County Circuit Clerk Christy Blakemore also reported receiving an email from Norman Warren inquiring about how Fotoohighiam could access exhibits in his divorce case.
"This is also a very troubling development because Mr. Warren was involved in placing three-way calls to Iran" that form the basis of the charge of attempted tampering with a witness, Groenweghe wrote.
"The State believes that the defendant's inability to control his behavior poses an extreme threat to public safety," Groenweghe wrote. "Given previous allegations of defendant's threats to harm of (sic) kill a former prosecutor and judge, the state feels there should be zero tolerance for any violations."
Ohmer scheduled a status hearing for Aug. 18.