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December 19, 2014

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Amador firing stands up; judge names new counsel

Michael Amador tried to prevent the inevitable Wednesday by filing a motion to withdraw from the Margaret Rudin murder case. It didn't work. He still got fired.

District Judge Joseph Bonaventure granted Rudin's request to fire her lead defense counsel after reading a series of letters written by Rudin over the past month and sent to Amador.

The judge then appointed the Clark County Public Defender's Office to represent Rudin in filing post-conviction motions and during her sentencing. Defense attorneys John Momot and Tom Pitaro agreed they would assist Deputy Public Defender Jordan Savage at her sentencing hearing, which has now been pushed back to Aug. 24.

In each of the letters Rudin complained bitterly about Amador's behavior and lack of preparedness in defending her. The 56-year-old former socialite expressed concern that Amador has repeatedly said he is representing her for free when there is some indication he may be working on a book or movie about her case.

In addition, Rudin told Amador his behavior is so odd she suspects he may be using cocaine.

During Wednesday's hearing, Rudin and Amador had an opportunity to explain.

Rudin told Bonaventure she signed three contracts with Amador. Two of these pertained to movie and book rights, and in the third she promised to pay Amador $250,000 if she should ever obtain that much money.

Rudin said she wasn't sure if the third contract voided the earlier two, and that is why she was so concerned. She also explained that she hadn't complained about Amador earlier because other members of her defense team thought she should present a united front.

She also said she held out hope that she would be acquitted of murdering her husband, Ronald Rudin, in December 1994. She was convicted May 2 of first-degree murder with use of a deadly weapon and is now facing a life sentence.

Rudin, speaking in open court, burst into tears Wednesday. Bonaventure asked her if there were any other complaints she would like to make about Amador, and in a halting fashion Rudin said her husband was involved in the syndicate and she suggested Amador might be, too.

Amador told Bonaventure that the third contract is the only one in effect, and Rudin does not owe him any money despite the fact she claims he told her last week he still expected to be paid $250,000.

The movie rights issue, Amador said, has nothing to do with Rudin's criminal trial. Instead, he said, that contract pertained to his attempts to stop Joseph DeLeo from capitalizing on Rudin's story.

Rudin is suing DeLeo for fraud, claiming he misrepresented himself to her as a pastor to get the rights to her life story for $1.

"The only thing I'm interested in is representing Margaret to the best of my ability," Amador said.

As for drugs, Amador insisted he is only on prescription medication for allergies and some other things he declined to go into.

After the hearing, a reporter asked Amador if he had a history of substance abuse. The attorney promptly asked the reporter if he had ever used drugs, then he attacked the reporter's clothes and appearance.

When hasked the question by another reporter, Amador said no.

Amador blamed the media for much of the negative attention he has been getting. He told Bonaventure that the press likes to write about controversy and on one occasion "baited" him into saying something negative about Pitaro and Momot.

The fact is, Amador said, "In six months no one will remember anything about me but my name."

Amador also said the district attorney's office is welcome to look into his finances, adding that they have been after him for awhile.

Bonaventure interrupted Amador at that point and said he thought Amador was being paranoid. The allegations in the letters came from Rudin, not the state or anyone else, the judge said.

Bonaventure told Amador that he is not an investigator, he is a referee. However, he said that if the district attorney's office finds anything amiss with Amador's finances, he wants to know.

If it turns out that Amador was paid for his services, Bonaventure said he wants to reimburse taxpayers.

"I'm concerned about the citizens of Clark County, the taxpayers," Bonaventure said.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Gary Guymon said his office will be looking into the finances, especially after reading Rudin's letters.

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