Ex-power broker Garcia facing meth charges: Throughout the 1990s, Al Garcia was seen as an insider at City Hall. Now he's accused of accepting the drug as payment from a client. His former legal assistant faces the same charges.
Feb 27, 2009 (Star Tribune - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Lawyer and one-time Minneapolis City Hall power broker Al Garcia is in the Anoka County jail and facing two felony charges for allegedly taking methamphetamine as payment from a legal client.
Garcia's former legal assistant, Misty Iverson, 31, of Sartell, is also in custody and charged with identical felonies. Both are to be arraigned this morning in Anoka County District Court. Each is charged with two first-degree controlled substance crimes.
According to charges filed by the Anoka County attorney's office Thursday, Garcia's legal client, who is charged in a federal meth distribution probe and is cooperating with investigators, told investigators Garcia wanted a $19,000 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, cash and incentive understood to be meth.
On Tuesday, Garcia went to a Coon Rapids home to meet with a cooperating informant who was a relative of the client. The informant laid out four clear plastic bags with an ounce of methamphetamine in each. Garcia told the informant he couldn't have anything to do with the substance and left, according to the complaint, which said the meeting was recorded on audio and video.
The next day, Garcia called the informant. The informant claimed to have the motorcycle, $800 in cash and "the incentive." Garcia and Iverson arrived shortly before 9 p.m. at the same Coon Rapids residence. Law enforcement again used audio and video to record the meeting.
The informant showed Garcia and Iverson the motorcycle title and the cash. The informant then dumped two clear plastic bags on the table, saying, "here is the other stuff." The bags, provided by law enforcement, contained an ounce each of meth, the complaint said.
Iverson said she wanted the meth put in a paper bag. Garcia told the informant to give the meth to Iverson, who then put it inside the front of her pants. When Garcia and Iverson went back to his Cadillac, they were arrested.
"I presume he's innocent," said defense lawyer Peter Wold, who will be in court today with Garcia, whom he described as a friend.
'Didn't have a clear picture'
Ryan Pacyga, who is representing Iverson, said, "She's got a story to tell that will show her involvement wasn't as reflected in the charges. We think it will show that she didn't have a clear picture of what was going on."
Throughout the 1990s, Garcia, who is 48 and lives in Minnetonka, was seen as an insider and power broker at City Hall. Many former council members credited him with helping get them elected, including then-Council President Jackie Cherryhomes as well as former Council Members Joe Biernat, Lisa McDonald and Steve Minn.
Garcia was known as a friendly and upbeat personality. In an e-mail to a reporter in 2001, he referred to himself as "a beautiful, colorful, successful, chubby Chicano from the North Side."
Over the years, he had a wide range of clients from the landlords of the Metrodome to the owners of South Beach -- the once-hot downtown nightclub. Jordan Kushner, a Twin Cities lawyer, said in 2001, "Everyone who follows Minneapolis politics knows Al Garcia, obviously."
A year ago, Garcia was reprimanded and placed on a two-year probation by the state Supreme Court after admitting to "unethical terms in a fee agreement." He also admitted to an unauthorized charge to a client's credit card.
Rochelle Olson --612-673-1747
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