The Fresno County Sheriff’s Office remained mum Thursday about its criminal investigation involving prominent Fresno criminal defense attorney Anthony “Tony” Capozzi.
Meanwhile, Capozzi’s attorney, Carl Faller, said Thursday that Capozzi plans to “completely cooperate” with sheriff’s investigators once he returns to Fresno next week from San Francisco, where he chairs the state Commission on Judicial Performance.
Faller said the criminal probe is perplexing because the Sheriff’s Office has not revealed any allegation against Capozzi and the sheriff’s news release about the probe was void of details.
Capozzi’s son, Nicco Capozzi, who also is a lawyer in Fresno, also weighed in, voicing his concerns on his blog Wednesday: “Today I witnessed what happens when the government acts through its power to target a single individual without check and balance.”
In the posting, the younger Capozzi criticized the Sheriff’s Office’s news release: “They did this without setting forth a single fact in support, without first speaking to my dad about why they would soon be dragging his impeccable reputation through the gutter.”
The Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday morning issued a news release that said in response to multiple media inquiries it could confirm that “our office initiated a criminal investigation” involving Capozzi that began on Tuesday.
The release also said, “No details of the allegations are available at this time.”
It is unfortunate that the Sheriff’s Office elected to make this public pronouncement before contacting Mr. Capozzi, or investigating, reviewing and evaluating all of the facts concerning the allegations, which are, at this point, still unknown.
Fresno lawyer Carl Faller
News of the investigation caught Capozzi’s colleagues by surprise, but it also rankled them. Because the news release was void of details, Capozzi’s colleagues said it has led to speculation, causing Capozzi’s reputation to be soiled.
Faller addressed his concerns in a statement Wednesday evening: “It is unfortunate that the Sheriff’s Office elected to make this public pronouncement before contacting Mr. Capozzi, or investigating, reviewing and evaluating all of the facts concerning the allegations, which are, at this point, still unknown.”
On Thursday, Faller said Capozzi would provide whatever information the Sheriff’s Office requires “to get to the true facts of the matter.”
Sheriff’s spokesman Tony Botti said he could not discuss any allegations against Capozzi. “I do not have any updates on the investigation and I do not anticipate having any today,” Botti said Thursday.
Capozzi, 71, is a well-known figure in the legal establishment and in local and state politics. He operates his own law firm and is a legal and political analyst for ABC30 television.
In March, Capozzi was elected chairman of the Commission on Judicial Performance, an independent state agency that investigates complaints of judicial misconduct. In July, he was a delegate for presidential nominee Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
His résumé includes president of the Fresno County Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association, San Joaquin Valley chapter; lawyer representative and co-chair of the 9th Circuit Judicial Conference; elected member of the Board of Governors, State Bar of California, 2000 to 2003; president of the State Bar of California, 2003 to 2004; and member of the Judicial Council of California, 2005 to 2010.