Mehrdad Fotoohighiam’s loan was revoked and he was taken into custody after violating the terms of the loan, which Special Judge Steven Ohmer granted him in early May.
Ohmer ordered Fotoohighiam back to jail after a hearing on Wednesday morning. He was held at the St. Louis City Justice Center Thursday afternoon until he was returned to Boone County Jail, where he was held for more than four years before Ohmer released him on his own.
Also on Wednesday, Ohmer granted Attorney Gregory Smith’s motion to retire from Fothoohighiam as attorney, found Fotoohighiam penniless and ordered the Boone County Public Defender’s Office to represent him. Smith’s withdrawal came three months after attorney Scott Rosenblum pulled out of the case, saying Fotoohighiam refused to follow his advice.
Smith’s motion offered no reason to withdraw.
Fotoohighiam is charged with first degree conspiracy, first degree murder, attempted first degree murder, manipulation of a witness, and conspiracy to manipulate a witness. Court records indicate that he has been charged with trying to hire people to kill his ex-wife and District Judge Jeff Harris.
In his motion to revoke Fotoohighiam’s loan, Special Prosecutor Philip Groenweghe cited several violations of Ohmer’s terms and conditions. He wrote that the day after Fotoohighiam was released from prison on May 4, he called the St. Charles County Attorney’s Office despite orders not to contact the prosecutor. He told a paralegal in the office that all proceedings against him had been dropped and demanded that his personal property be returned.
Groenweghe filed his first application to revoke the loan for Fotoohighiam following this breach, but Ohmer declined the decision and took him for advice. He reminded the defendant that he was not allowed to contact anyone other than his lawyer or the adult court service, or allow anyone to communicate with others on his behalf.
On May 14, Groenweghe wrote in his final petition that a claim filed with an insurance policy on behalf of Fotoohighiam’s ex-wife Hedieh Fotoohighiam was filed against Lititz Mutual Insurance Co. It was falsely alleged that Hedieh Fotoohighiam was awarded property valued at $ 152,000 after the terms of her divorce decree, her home at 5503 Carrick Court was stolen, Groenweghe wrote.
A follow-up email was sent on May 22nd from the email that Fotoohighiam was allowed to use to contact his lawyer. The email was signed “on behalf of Dr. Fotoohighiam” by Steve Randolph, with whom the defendant lived.
“Of course there is every reason to believe that the defendant actually sent this notice,” wrote Groenweghe, adding that a claims adjuster forwarded the file to the Optima Special Investigations Unit, which is investigating fraudulent insurance claims.
Boone County Circuit Clerk Christy Blakemore also reported having received an email from Norman Warren inquiring about how Fotoohighiam could access exhibits in his divorce case.
“This is also a very worrying development given that Mr Warren was involved in tripartite talks in Iran,” which formed the basis for allegations of attempted manipulation of a witness, Groenweghe wrote.
“The state believes that the defendant’s inability to control his behavior poses an extreme threat to public safety,” wrote Groenweghe. “Given previous allegations of the defendant’s threat to kill a former prosecutor and judge, the state should not tolerate violations.”
Ohmer has scheduled a status hearing for August 18th.