A jury of six men and six women is set to hear opening statements Tuesday morning in the trial of Dr. Alireza Sadeghi, a New Orleans breast reconstruction surgeon accused of videotaping four nude women in the operating room and sending the footage to associates without the patients' consent.
The jury was sworn in shortly before 6 p.m. Monday, several hours after Sadeghi's defense team cried foul over an announcement from Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro's office that it had amended the indictment against Sadeghi at the last moment.
Among the 11th-hour changes, prosecutors added language that could boost Sadeghi's sentence, if he's convicted, to include a one-year mandatory minimum prison term for each of the four video voyeurism counts he faces.
That sentencing increase is based on the parts of the women's anatomy that Sadeghi allegedly filmed and transmitted to others.
Led by former federal prosecutor Michael Magner and Colorado-based attorney Lisa Wayne, Sadeghi's defense team balked at the late move, while Criminal District Court Judge Laurie White chided prosecutors over it.
However, offered a chance to delay the trial, Sadeghi's attorneys agreed to move forward.
Since Sadeghi, 41, was first indicted 10 months ago, the high-profile case has featured a barrage of legal volleys over what the surgeon's attorneys describe as an overzealous prosecution tainted by misconduct.
Dr. Alireza Sadeghi, the New Orleans breast reconstruction surgeon accused of raping his wif…
They claim authorities have mistaken legitimate, clinical operating room footage for pornography, and they say police far overstepped their authority while rooting through Sadeghi's electronic devices under a series of search warrants issued in 2015, among other alleged misdeeds.
Prosecutors, led by Assistant District Attorney Laura Cannizzaro Rodrigue, claim Sadeghi's purported victims never consented to what they say the doctor ultimately did with the operating-room footage, in at least one instance sending a video of a nude patient to a friend.
Earlier this month, prosecutors announced they would wait to try Sadeghi on two other felony charges contained in a six-count indictment: a rape charge and a fifth count of video voyeurism, both related to allegations lodged by his estranged wife.
An Orleans Parish judge dealt several setbacks late Tuesday to a prominent New Orleans breas…
Prosecutors severed those two counts only after Sadeghi had agreed to drop his legal bid to see the couple's three children, pending the outcome of his trial. The DA's decision to try him later on the two counts involving his wife drew allegations of a "bait and switch" from Magner.
Among those on the prosecution's witness list during this week's trial is Jason Adams, a former friend and business associate of Sadeghi.
Adams, 31, faces his own criminal charge. He is accused of vehicular homicide in the death of a passenger, Kristi Lynn Lirette of Baton Rouge, in a high-speed Lamborghini crash last year on Tchoupitoulas Street. Adams was legally drunk and driving about 100 mph at the time, authorities allege.
A multimillion-dollar legal dispute between an acclaimed New Orleans breast surgeon and his …
The two men have since traded civil lawsuits, with Sadeghi accusing Adams of forging checks and stealing millions of dollars from the surgeon. Adams claims the doctor was privy to all of the money transfers, and he says he helped Sadeghi funnel more than $300,000 in hush money to a former office staffer with whom the doctor had carried on an affair.
It's uncertain whether Adams ultimately will testify, or to what, in a trial that is expected to run through the week.
Following jury selection, Sadeghi's attorneys filed a new motion to quash the entire indictment, claiming 20 alleged fouls by prosecutors in the case that, put together, warrant dismissing the charges. But the attorneys asked White to defer a hearing on the motion until after the trial.