Court Filings

Saturday, October 10, 2015 – 11:30 a.m.

The lawyer for two members of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians has appealed a $6.5 million jury award to the target of a murder-for-hire plot.

Records show that San Bernardino-based Attorney Joseph Arias has filed a notice of appeal with Division Two of the Riverside-based Fourth District Court of Appeal.

Earlier this year a San Bernardino County civil jury capped off an initial $4.5 million compensatory damages award to plaintiff Leonard Epps, the former manager of the now-shuttered Brass key Lounge in Highland. That second jury handed Epps a second verdict for another $2 million in punitive damages from Tribal Members Erik Barajas and sister Stacy Nunez-Barajas.

Epps was seeking an extra $27 million in punitive damages. Nevertheless, $6.5 million is a modest payday for always having to look behind your back.

A drug trafficking investigation by agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and officers from the San Bernardino Police Department uncovered evidence, during wire tap surveillance, that the Barajas’ had contracted with members of the Mexican Mafia to kill Epps.

The two siblings pleaded guilty before trial and received “extended probation”, in lieu of state prison confinement.

Nunez-Barajas eventually violated her probation and continues to serve the bulk of a fifteen year state prison term.

To throw more salt in the wound, last month a judge awarded another $400,218 in legal fees to Epps’ attorney, Highland-Based Frank Peterson.