Former Governor Confirms He Helped Out A Political Friend By Shortening A Prison Sentence

LOS ANGELES (CBS) — The family of slain college student Luis dos Santos, who are fighting to reverse the eleventh hour commutation of a man involved in their son’s murder, may have grounds to file a second lawsuit.

In 2008, 22-year-old, Mesa college student Luis dos Santos was killed in San Diego.  Esteban Nunez, son of former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, plead guilty to manslaughter and assault charges.  He didn’t dispute the facts, didn’t contend he was innocent and didn’t stand trial.  In the closing hours of his governorship, Arnold Schwarzenegger cut the prison sentence for Nunez by more than half — from 16 to 7 years.

In an apology letter to the Santos family, Schwarzenegger said the reason he cut the prison term to seven years, was Esteban Nunez did not deserve the same 16-year sentence as the man who wielded the knife.  However, many contend the commutation was a personal favor for a close friend and political ally.

Last week, the former Governor gave a snoring response to CBS2 reporter Dave Bryan’s question about why he commuted the prison sentence for Nunez. Now the case has taken a new turn.

When asked if he was helping out his crony by Newsweek magazine this week Schwarzenegger said, “Well hellooooo. I mean, of course you help a friend.”

In a Skype interview from northern California, Auburn attorney Nina Salarno-Ashford, who represents the family of  dos Santos family said Schwarzenegger’s explanation is outrageous and inadequate.

“How disingenuous of a man who used to be the Governor of the state of California, sworn to uphold the laws of California, and just decides that he has the power because he’s doing a favor to a friend.”

Schwarzenegger’s decision to cut Nunez’s sentence has come under fire from prosecutors, fellow Republicans, the dos Santos family and is now the subject of a one  lawsuit.  Based on his recent statements, it may now be the basis of another one.

“It is possibly a legal issue,” says Salarno-Ashford.  “I’ve discussed it with my partner.  It is something we are looking into.”

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

  • Not a Moronn

    “Well hellooooo. I mean, of course you help a friend.” ??? Yes, Arnie, you help a friend–except when it’s illegal, immoral and unethical. Gray Davis must be laughing himself to sleep every night, just as the parents of Luis dos Santos are crying into their pillows. So this is the best answer this ‘non-girly man’ can come up with? Has his PR team run for the woods?? No surprises from someone who cheated his way to Mr. Universe (steroids) and who still smokes cigars after having a very serious bypass operation (thanks, by the way, from all of us who are trying to convince kids not to smoke). Good Riddance, Mr. Governator, and good-bye. The Kennedy family must put you on the porch at Thanksgiving. Phooey!

    • Marcus

      He had a valve replacement, not bypass surgery, and why would Davis be laughing? He still got recalled, and I don’t hear many people saying they wish he had stayed governor? We all suffered, so maybe we can laugh bitterly about it.

      • Kim Greene

        Davis is laughing because he was berated and ridiculed for the deal he signed with the prison guards and the whole energy crisis. Arnie’s buffoonery makes Davis look like a political master — that’s why he’s laughing.

    • Saber 1

      Arnolds one last F U to the LEGAL CITIZENS of CALIFORNIA, not many left. Not only this last trick, but ran this great state in the poor house. Married to a LIBERAL, that is bound to rub off on you.

  • Oops....

    Disgusting. My condolences to the Dos Santos family.

  • Kim Greene

    I want Arnie to deal with real life someday. I hope the dos Santos family sues his a** and he has to sit through a deposition and explain his position as Fabian’s friend. Folks, we have to quit voting for these (mostly) Democratic legislators and we have to get behind a real person to sit in the Governor’s chair. Jeriatric Brown just signed a deal with the prison guards that will bankrupt us even further down the road…yeah, he doesn’t owe anything to anyone (according to him)…we are doomed if we continue down this path. Arnie is a spoiled prig of a man and we wish him failure in his defense of his actions. I hope they legally nail him to the wall!

    • Not a Moron

      Um, Kim, Arnie was and is still very much a Republican.


    Conflict of interest.

  • Leslie Andrew

    Well that means he could have shortened Tookie’s sentence; but naw, he went ahead and killed him.

    • Saber 1

      Tookie had it coming, just like this guy did.

  • Mel Gibson

    Too Bad Society has Heroes like Arnie. He was never Qualified to be Governor. From here on in all celebs should be barred from any Political Office.
    Maybe when he gets out Nunez will get his just due if men can be real men

  • upyours

    Maybe this was A$$wipe Arnie’s way of telling all the whiny dumba$$es who voted for the prison guards when he had the special election to take more control of the unions to shove it up your pu$$y a$$es. He saw a State full of pu$$ies so he governed like one. You reap what you sow morons.

  • Ron

    I hope Dave Bryan and all other T.V. and news print reporters, hound Arnie S. to find out what he received from Fabian, in return for this prison sentence reduction.

    And CBS Media, you forgot to mention ALL the PEOPLE that are OUTRAGED by Arnold’s commutation.

    We need a law that prevents politicians, at all levels of government, from having the power to do anything like this again.

  • OSS

    Thats what you inherit when your father was a member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party ( Nazi) they helped alot of their friends.
    Cold and insensitive.

  • jovanna

    There is no justice for this family and this young man who lost his life because some priviliged a**hole decided he was above the law! I hope Arnie never has to go through what this family is going through! He should be ashamed of his actoins and comments. Fabian must be a “really good friend” for him to do this!

    • Ron

      Jovanna, you miss the point. He was a governor and he is not supposed to use his power to lessen a sentence, in a murder case, simply because it is a friends son. That is CORRUPT and something that we see in other countries, NOT the U.S.A.

  • ES

    His kids must be proud.

  • betc

    He is a worthless piece of garbage i hope these people get to personally sue him as for the kids father do not reelect or let him run for anything he raised his son as garbage

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