As Donald Trump continues to share why he believes U.S. Federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel is prejudiced against him, one of Curiel’s former bosses said the Judge is fair and well-respected.
Curiel was nominated to the San Diego Superior Court in 2007 by former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Four years later President Barack Obama appointed him to his current position.
Now, Curiel is overseeing two of the class action lawsuits in which Trump and the now-closed University are accused of misleading students with unfulfilled promises of teaching them the secret to being successful in the real estate business.
“He is well respected in the Superior Court, as well as the Federal,” Charles (Chuck) La Bella said. “Based on my dealings with Gonzalo, his integrity is beyond approach.”
La Bella is a former San Diego U.S. Attorney. Curiel worked under him leading the narcotics enforcement division, targeting powerful and deadly drug cartels based in Tijuana.
“He (Curiel) was relentless in pursuing the Arellano Felix gang,” La Bella said. “At some point when we had made some very significant successes, Gonzalo was targeted by the organization and it was credible threats, so credible that we moved him out of san diego for at least a year.”
According to La Bella, Curiel’s effort, along with others, was the beginning of the end for the Arellano Felix cartel.
The GOP presidential candidate said Curiel ruled against him a number of times in the class action lawsuits against Trump University.
Trump railed against the Judge during a campaign stop Friday in San Diego.
"There should be no trial,” Trump said. "We're in front of a very hostile judge. The judge was appointed by Barack Obama. I mean frankly, he should recuse himself because he's given us ruling after ruling after ruling, negative, negative, negative."
Curiel "happens to be, we believe Mexican, which is great. I think that's fine," Trump added of the judge, who was born in East Chicago, Indiana.
On a media phone call organized by California Democrats Wednesday, San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said he served with Judge Curiel when he was an Assistant State Attorney. “No one worked harder to protect Americans from violence and harm and to make sure justice was done,” Liccardo said about Curiel.
He continued to say the comments Trump has made about Curiel, show Trump’s “lack of maturity.”
In February, Trump told Fox News Sunday, "I think it has to do with perhaps the fact that I'm very, very strong on the border. Now he is Hispanic, I believe. He is a very hostile judge to me."
Two of the lawsuits are being heard in San Diego courtrooms, another lawsuit is based in a New York court. The San Diego cases include: Cohen v. Trump, a nationwide class action lawsuit and Makaeff v. Trump, (now Low v. Trump) a class action in California, Florida and New York.
Trump denies the allegations in the lawsuits. His attorney, Daniel Petrocelli said, “the case is unwarranted; (Trump) will defend himself fully."
Click here to read more about the Trump University lawsuits.
Last month, Curiel set a November 28th trial date, after the U.S. Presidential election, for the Low v. Trump case and said a 14-day trial seems possible. Trump said he will be in court for the trial.
The allegations outlined in court documents include Trump University, which took in over $40 million, was fraudulent and deceptive.
Several playbooks used by Trump University were released to the public Tuesday and detail how much students paid.
According to the Trump documents, after a free seminar to attract potential clients, the next step was to sign students up for a $1,495 three-day-training. After that, according to a flow chart released with the documents, the Trump University salespeople were asked to convince students to sign-up for elite levels of training. The students might pay anywhere from $10-35,000 for the “Trump Elite Packages," according to the documents.
This included a “quick start retreat” at the “Silver Elite” and “Bronze Elite” levels. The $35,000 “Gold Elite level” training included a $13,495 savings for students, the documents detail.
Click here to read more about what was in the unsealed documents.