Longform

Family Secrets

Page 7 of 8

Sally asked for Danny to pay her half the proceeds from the future sale of just two of the couple's properties -- the Osborn condo and one of the six downtown properties she'd already allegedly quitclaimed to him.

Sally also asked for her share of their retirement funds, and for half of the cash value of a life insurance policy in her name. The latter was another asset that Danny had failed to mention in his earlier petition, and her share would come to about $28,000.

Also that day, Sally filed an order of protection against Danny, which a court commissioner granted.

In early March 2003, Sally went to Motor Vehicles to get a new identification card. She learned there that, months earlier, another woman already had used her name and birth date to secure an ID.

Sally later wrote in an affidavit that an agency official had shown her the photograph of the other woman.

It was her daughter, Josephine.

Sally soon got another jolt when Danny asked a judge to dismiss her divorce petition because, alas, they already were divorced.

Confused, Sally knew she needed an attorney, and approached Ken Winsberg with what was a head-scratcher of a tale.

The lawyer said Sally had little money, but he decided to accept her as a client after she showed him evidence that Danny had hoodwinked both her and the court.

"Sally was the victim of major chicanery, big league," he said. "And she was up against her whole immediate family, including her daughters. I'd never seen or heard anything quite like it."

Sally found full-time work as a bookkeeper to pay her new attorney, and started to do her own sleuth work on her case.

But in late May 2004, a commissioner granted Danny Carbajal's motion to dismiss Sally's new case.

Danny's joy at winning that round couldn't have lasted long.

In August 2004, Judge Edward Burke granted Ken Winsberg's request to set aside Danny's default divorce decree because it was a fraud.

Tensions between Sally and Danny escalated with the reopening of the case, according to Winsberg legal assistant Claudia Rivas.

"As the months went by, she told us that she was scared for her life," Rivas said. "We could tell she wasn't just looking for sympathy. She and Gerry moved three times, and she quit a job because she didn't want Danny to find her. It was creepy."

Last September, Judge Burke took the unusual step of ordering Danny Carbajal to pay Sally's attorney $10,000 "as an advancement toward the cost and expenses of this litigation."

That should have sent a clear signal as to how the divorce case was stacking up. But an out-of-court settlement between the two apparently wasn't in the cards.

Now, Sally was asking for half of all the community properties, and was arguing that all the quitclaim deeds should be voided because of the alleged forgeries.

Ken Winsberg estimated that the Carbajals' properties were worth about $500,000 by last year. And that was just part of it.

Court records show that as of late 2003, Danny still had almost $400,000 in the Merrill Lynch accounts. If Sally won the day in court, half of that sum would be hers.

Danny Carbajal painted a bleak portrait of his current life during his deposition in the divorce case last year. He testified that he lives alone and frugally in the Osborn condo, and regularly borrows money from Michael and his aged mother to survive.

Danny also said he's not currently training any professional boxers, just a handful of amateurs for a few bucks a month. His only work income seems to be a few hundred bucks as a "cut man" in an occasional prizefight.

Times have gotten so tough, Danny testified, that he didn't file income tax statements from 2000 to 2003 because he didn't make enough money.

He repeatedly denied that he'd ever defrauded Sally. To the contrary, Danny said she was the one who had been the thief.

During her own deposition last December, Sally wouldn't tell Danny's attorney where she was working or where she lived.

"The look in Danny's eyes when we were doing [Sally's] deposition spoke volumes," Winsberg said. "It was cold as ice, pure hatred, and it was memorable."


Short of an unlikely settlement, the Carbajal divorce trial was set in Judge Burke's court for February 28, 2005.

On February 24, according to court records, Danny's lawyer, Rich Peters, billed him for more than eight hours of work on the case -- $1,620 -- and spoke twice with his client.

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin