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Luster Wants to See Grand Jury Transcripts

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Rapist and Max Factor heir Andrew Luster claims his criminal defense attorney coerced him into fleeing prosecution by telling him he was likely to be killed in prison. Luster's new attorneys want grand jury transcripts released, claiming they will show that his attorney Richard Sherman conspired to send Luster on his notorious flight to Mexico during his January 2003 criminal trial.

In his federal complaint, Luster's new attorney, J. David Nick of San Francisco, claims that Sherman arranged Luster's flight plan to Guadalajara and collected at least $280,000 from Luster and his family for it. Luster was corralled in Mexico by bounty hunter Duane "Dog" Chapman.

In his absence, Luster was convicted of more than 80 counts of rape and sexual assault for drugging at least three women and videotaping his sexual assaults. He was sentenced to 124 years.

Luster claims Sherman persuaded him that he had to flee because if he did not, "he would be killed upon entering state prison," according to the complaint, which adds, "Andrew Luster fled believing he needed to save his own life."

Luster says had he not been persuaded to flee and had he been present at his trial, his sentence would not have been 10 times longer than the 12-year plea offer suggested by the prosecution.

As a result of his flight, Luster forfeited the right to appeal.

Luster's mother Elizabeth and his lead trial counsel's assistant attorney Kiana Sloan-Hillier testified to the grand jury about their knowledge of Sherman's involvement in Luster's flight, the new complaint states. The FBI also allegedly investigated Sherman.

Luster claims the United States was unable to return a conspiracy indictment because Luster did not testify, on the advice of his subsequent counsel, who, unbeknownst to him, was a close associate of Sherman.

Luster seeks disclosure of the grand jury transcripts under the Freedom of Information Act.

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