A judge said Friday that she's referring a Los Angeles lawyer to federal prosecutors and the State Bar over his involvement in lawsuits that she found were part of a massive fraud by purported Nicaraguan banana workers against U.S. food giant Dole.

Superior Court Judge Victoria Chaney said that attorney Juan Dominguez, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the lawsuits against Dole, would be subject to charges of perjury, obstruction of justice, defrauding a court, conspiring to extort a United States company and possibly federal racketeering violations. She also ordered Dominguez to appear in her courtroom on June 15 for a hearing on sanctions for alleged contempt of court.

Last month, Chaney dismissed two lawsuits that she said were part of a massive scheme to extort Dole for billions of dollars, claiming that men who worked on Dole banana plantations in Nicaragua in the 1970s were contaminated by a pesticide that rendered them sterile.

She dismissed the lawsuits after an emotional three-day series of hearings in which witnesses, some of whom had their identities disguised, testified about recruitment of men who never worked in the plantations to lie about exposure to the pesticide DBCP.


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