RENO — Darren Mack claims Washoe Family Court Judge Chuck Weller and his attorney, Cal Dunlap, sought $5 million in return for accepting Mack’s guilty plea to killing his wife, according to new court documents.
Weller denied the claim on Tuesday, and Special Prosecutor Christopher Lalli said no such deal was made involving his office.
In documents filed Monday, Mack said his former lawyer, David Chesnoff, received a call from Dunlap and was told that Dunlap and Weller agreed with the plea deal.
But Mack said Dunlap called back and was “quite upset,” saying he and Weller would only agree with the plea if Mack paid Weller the money.
“I am not in a civil action with Judge Weller for him to be able to demand money from me,” Mack said in his declaration, filed to support his request to withdraw his guilty pleas.
Mack, 46, was charged with killing his estranged wife, Charla, on June 12, 2006, and then shooting Weller, who was presiding over their bitter divorce.
Weller denied he demanded $5 million in exchange for supporting Mack’s plea agreement.
“I never said that to anyone, and I never authorized anyone to say it on my behalf,” Weller told the Reno Gazette-Journal. “I am an honest and an ethical judge.
“I went back to the bench after being shot by Darren Mack because I believe the judiciary has an obligation to stand up against attacks against it,” Weller said. He said he had not decided whether to file a civil suit against Mack.
Lalli said it is “unethical for a prosecutor to, in any way, connect a criminal resolution to a civil suit.”
“We had absolutely nothing to do about that. Nothing,” he said.”
Initially, Mack pleaded not guilty to killing his wife, maintaining the stabbing was in self defense. In the shooting of the judge, he originally pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.
But the former wealthy pawn shop owner abruptly ended his trial Nov. 5 just as his previous defense team was to begin calling witnesses. He pleaded guilty to stabbing his estranged wife and entered an Alford plea acknowledging there was enough evidence for a conviction in the shooting of Weller.
He later fired his attorneys, David Chesnoff and Reno lawyer Scott Freeman, and hired William Routsis to defend him. He has since asked the court to allow him to withdraw his pleas and have a new trial.
District Judge Douglas Herndon will hear arguments on the motions next week.