Monday, 17 June 2024

Actor/model fails to turn up for trial; judge issues arrest warrant

LAKEPORT – A judge has issued an arrest warrant for an actor and model who failed to show up for his trial on misdemeanor charges that indecent exposure.

Judge Arthur Mann issued the bench warrant for Justin Force Lazard, 42, late last month.

Lazard was due to show up in Lake County Superior Court on May 26 for trial on misdemeanor charges of indecent exposure, disorderly conduct and annoying or molesting a child under age 18, according to court documents.

Prosecutor Ed Borg confirmed to Lake County News that those are the current charges against Lazard.

Lakeport Police arrested Lazard in Library Park on July 4, 2006, after three officers on foot patrol encountered him allegedly sitting on the railing with his genitals exposed, according to police reports. During the arrest he allegedly began fighting the officers, who used a Taser on him.

The annoying/molesting a child charge was lodged against Lazard because officials alleged that a young girl had been in the area and had seen him exposing himself.

Last fall, Lazard donated playground equipment to the city of Lakeport for placement in Library Park, near where the incident occurred, as Lake County News has reported.

On May 26, Lazard didn't appear in court, but his attorney, Paul Swanson of Lakeport, asked for another continuance in the case, which has had several since it began, according to court documents.

Borg said Judge Mann found there was no good cause for Lazard's non-appearance. Once Lazard didn't appear, Mann issued an arrest warrant he already had prepared before the trial date.

Swanson did not return calls seeking comment on the case.

The current charges would carry a maximum sentence of a year in the county jail; Borg said in a previous interview that it would be rare for Lazard to receive that jail time, and that probation would be more likely since Lazard had no criminal record previous to 2006.

If convicted, however, Lazard would be required to register as a sex offender in California and, possibly, in his state of residence, New York.

On May 30 Lazard sent a letter to Mann, which the court received on June 2.

“I am doing everything I can to turn my life around and live as a descent (sic), upstanding Christian man,” wrote Lazard. “I realize I had a lapse of sanity and reason and behaved in an inappropriate manner. I am sorry. Truly.”

Lazard explained to Mann that his 4-month-old daughter suffers from Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome, a genetic disorder that includes cleft palate, cardiac defects and a characteristic facial appearance, according to the Web site for the Upper Midwest VCFS/DGS Community.

He said his baby daughter is between heart surgeries. In addition, he stated that he's worried for his wife, model Shannon Fluet, noting “my legal problems in California” have weighed heavily on her.

“If there is anything I can do to not have to register as a sex offender for the sin I have committed, I would really appreciate it,” Lazard's letter to Mann said. “I don't think any of us would be able to handle it.”

He added, “I'm sorry I wasn't able to make it out for the hearing, but I had to put my family first. I hope you can understand that.”

Mann has not rescinded the $25,000 warrant for Lazard, who lives in New York.

“After a warrant issues, if someone in law enforcement has some idea of where the subject of a warrant might be, then typically there will be some effort to locate the subject,” said Borg. “Here, Mr. Lazard has no local ties, so that is not an option.”

The case has been subject to repeated continuances. Court documents report that Lazard has been in and out of psychiatric wards – in St. Helena, Massachusetts and France – since the 2006 arrest.

He had been scheduled to go to trial earlier this year, but received a continuance when his wife was suffering health issues during the final stages of her pregnancy, which he had blamed on media coverage of the case.

Court proceedings also have been delayed due to legal actions to place Lazard in a conservatorship. Local attorney Steve Brookes, who was involved in that process, did not return a call seeking comment.

Borg said an additional misdemeanor charge for failure to appear could be filed in the case, but added, “at this point I cannot comment as to whether this office is contemplating doing that.”

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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