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  • mbacpasec mbacpasec May 20, 2007 12:00 AM Flag

    BARLCYALS ETF FOUNDER TO JAIL

    CONTRA COSTA COUNTY
    3-year term for banker in fatal Moraga hit-and-run case
    Henry K. Lee, Chronicle Staff Writer
    Saturday, May 19, 2007
    An investment banker was sentenced to three years in prison Friday for fleeing the scene after his Jaguar struck and killed a woman who worked as a chef at a popular Moraga restaurant.
    Lee David Harbert, 50, of Napa was convicted April 20 by a Contra Costa County jury of failing to stop after a crash on the 700 block of Moraga Road that killed Gurdeep Kaur, 56, on Jan. 11, 2005. He was tracked down after Moraga police linked the damaged Jaguar found in the garage of his former Oakland hills home to car parts scattered at the crash site.
    At a hearing in Martinez, Harbert's attorney, James Campbell, said that his client was not found directly responsible for the crash and that Kaur stepped out of the crosswalk into traffic. Harbert did not address the court.
    Superior Court Judge Barbara Zuniga castigated Harbert's "illogical and contrived" testimony, saying that although she had read letters of support from his friends praising him for his business acumen, none of them was present in court to see his "very shameful display of contrived testimony," including his professed belief that he had hit a deer. "You got lost along the way, sir," said Zuniga, calling Harbert "arrogant and self-absorbed."
    "Sir, you have lost sight of the fact of one of our basic tenets of our society, which is human decency. You did not display this to the victim. You left her dying on the side of the road, sir," she said.
    The judge ordered Harbert to be sent to prison immediately. Sheriff's deputies shackled and handcuffed him before leading him away.
    No one in Kaur's family addressed the court Friday, which wasn't surprising, said Deputy District Attorney Bill Murphy, because they have been devastated by her death. Kaur was a chef at Terzetto Cuisine, a well-known Moraga restaurant owned by her family.
    "He knew what he hit. He didn't stop. He didn't aid this lady, and he fled," Murphy said. The prosecutor said he is still haunted by the "absolute pain and despair" in the eyes of Kaur's son.
    Harbert testified that he left the scene because he thought he had hit a deer. But police found that Harbert had looked up phrases such as "Moraga hit and run" and "auto repair" on his computer, indicating he was aware that he had hit a person and tried to cover his tracks, Murphy said.
    Kaur's family has settled a civil wrongful-death lawsuit against Harbert filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court.
    Harbert and his wife, Anne Krajewski-Harbert, have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Moraga police, accusing officers of wrongfully seizing items from them and leaking damaging information about him to the media, including the fact that he had two misdemeanor DUI convictions that were later expunged.
    Moraga police have denied any wrongdoing; the case is set for trial in U.S. District Court in San Francisco on Sept. 10.
    E-mail Henry K. Lee at hlee@sfchronicle.com.

 
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