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[ISN] Former expert witness pleads guilty to perjury


By John Ellis 
The Fresno Bee

James Earl Edmiston, the man who fooled judges and attorneys alike when 
he fraudulently passed himself off as a computer forensics expert, 
pleaded guilty Friday to federal perjury charges.

Edmiston could receive up to 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine when 
he is sentenced July 13 by U.S. District Judge Lawrence O'Neill, but 
based on his criminal history and federal sentencing guidelines, the 
time is likely to be closer to three years, authorities said.

Federal agents arrested Edmiston in September after they became 
suspicious of the 36-year-old Long Beach resident's qualifications.

For instance, a sterling resume featured degrees from the California 
Institute of Technology and the University of California at Los Angeles. 
Checks, however, found the institutions didn't offer the degrees 
Edmiston listed on his resume.

The end came for Edmiston after he was retained by Fresno attorneys 
Richard Berman and Eric Schweitzer to work on two child pornography 
cases. Local U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents involved in 
the cases noticed some inaccuracies on his resume, and further checks 
found alleged multiple false statements

Prosecutors say Edmiston committed perjury by making false statements in 
both cases. By that time, he had been qualified as an expert witness in 
computers and had submitted documents and offered testimony in court, 
including Tulare County Superior Court and the Fresno County Superior 
Court branch in Clovis.

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Gappa, who is prosecuting the case against 
Edmiston, declined to comment Friday. Authorities, however, say that 
based on information they currently have, no convictions have been 
jeopardized by Edmiston's actions.

Edmiston, who also declined to comment Friday, pleaded guilty to two 
perjury counts. In exchange, the government dropped the remaining 
charges, including an additional perjury count and eight counts of 
making false statements to authorities.

According to a plea agreement Edmiston signed Friday, the perjury 
charges involve two federal child pornography cases, one involving Ron 
Vaughn Jr., a Fresno County sheriff's sergeant, and another against 
Fresno resident Marlon Celedon.

Berman, who represents Vaughn, had retained and paid Edmiston and said 
earlier that Edmiston looked to be the best qualified for the work. 
Schweitzer represented Celedon.

Federal officials still are not sure how many cases Edmiston worked on, 
how many times he has testified in court or how long he has been 
offering his services as an expert witness.

Edmiston's criminal history includes a mid-1990s prison term on a 
forgery conviction.

Copyright 2007 The Fresno Bee

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