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Attorney General To Prosecute Alleged Murder-For-Hire

By Ray Estrada, Amador Ledger Dispatch

A 21-year-old Pine Grove man was arraigned Dec. 1 in Amador County Superior Court, but did not enter a plea to charges stemming from an alleged murder-for-hire scheme and molestation of four youths.

Patrick James Liest, in Amador County Jail with bail now set at $1.5 million, is accused of trying to hire another inmate to kill a prosecutor, one of his alleged victims and the boy´s parents.

Cliff Zall, from the state Attorney General´s Office, is prosecuting the case because it involves an Amador County deputy district attorney. Zall said Liest was ordered to return for a Jan. 12 court conference to allow public defender Scott Gross time to prepare a defense for the defendant.

Zall said Liest faces a total of 28 counts, which include four charges of soliciting murders and other charges of sexual molestation of four boys.

A family friend of one of his alleged victims, Liest was arrested Aug. 11 and charged with molestation of three boys. Two of the three boys are brothers, according to the Amador County Sheriff´s Office. A fourth victim has since come forward, Zall said.

A jail inmate, whose name was not released, told investigators on Nov. 17 that Liest asked him perform the killings, sheriff´s deputies said. Sheriff´s investigators said Liest gave the other inmate a description of the child, family and a map of the boy´s home.

An undercover investigator talked to Liest in jail twice. During those talks, Liest allegedly said he wanted the deputy district attorney in his case killed because she wouldn´t agree to a plea bargain.

The undercover investigator suggested that he only hurt the prosecutor, but Liest said he wanted her dead. Liest then offered the undercover investigator two vehicles and $20,000 in cash after he was released from jail in exchange for the killings, the sheriff´s office said.

After a 10-year-old boy told his father what had been done to him and his 8-year-old brother during a camping trip with Liest earlier this year, a sheriff´s deputy was sent to Pine Grove. During the deputy´s interview, the father saw Liest walking down the street, ran over to him, tackled him and yelled that this was the man who molested his sons.

Liest let deputies search his home. Investigators found compact discs with thousands of pornographic images of children, said Undersheriff Karl Knobelauch. Liest was charged with numerous lewd acts on a child younger than 14, as well as the possession of child pornography.

Reprinted with Permission from The Amador Ledger Dispatch