Car Trouble

Nick Baldiviez, shown in his 2014 mug shot, is charged with embezzling a former police car that was converted into a show car.

Since six King City police officers were arrested in early 2014, three have entered into plea bargains. Retired Chief Nick Baldiviez is the first to go to trial, with arguments scheduled to begin July 16.

He is accused of illegally signing DMV paperwork and transferring a souped-up police car to Officer Mario Mottu, Sr., then lying to investigators about it. Baldiviez maintains the signature is a forgery.

Jury selection focused on whether prospective jurors may be biased in a case against a former officer.

Before the first 75 potential jurors filed in Monday morning, attorneys debated whether Baldiviez’s wife, Lori Baldiviez, who may be called as a character witness, should be able to stay in the courtroom. All other witnesses are forbidden from listening to testimony of others, in order to keep their accounts unbiased.

“We are asking that she be allowed to remain in [the courtroom] just as emotional support,” Baldiviez’s attorney, Brian Worthington, told Monterey County Superior Court Judge Mark Hood.

“We are talking about a person who, after 55 years, is facing essentially the destruction of his entire adult life.”

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Deputy District Attorney Steve Somers objected: “He’s not an 18-year-old kid who needs every bit of support to get through this.”

Before Hood made a decision, Worthington agreed to take her off the witness list. The judge also ordered potential jurors to stop following news coverage of the case. “Some of you may have heard about this case in the media,” he said. “If you watch the 10 o’clock news, pretty much, don’t.”

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Sara Rubin loves long public meetings, red pens and reading (on newsprint). She has been editor of the Monterey County Weekly since 2016, and has been on staff since 2010.

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