You might assume most folks charged with driving under the influence after crashing their vehicles into light poles at 1 o’clock in the morning are thankful no one got hurt and just take the punishment coming their way.
Josef Moschref is not most folks.
After he and a reported passenger escaped injury in a crash two years ago in Colma, California — about 15 minutes south of San Francisco — that outcome apparently wasn’t satisfactory to Moschref.
The first move the 44-year-old allegedly made was to try to get his passenger to claim he was behind the wheel, not Moschref. That ploy didn’t play, authorities told SFGate.
Colma police cuffed Moschref on suspicion of drunk driving after a breath test showed his blood-alcohol level was 0.14 percent, almost twice the legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
Undeterred, Moschref allegedly got in touch just days later with a resident near the crash site who heard the vehicle hitting the light pole but didn’t see the wreck.
And for what, you ask? Moschref offered money to the resident “to say to the police that he saw the accident and that a tall black male jumped out of the driver’s seat and ran away,” Wagstaffe told SFGate.
Like Moschref’s alleged passenger, this resident wasn’t playing.
Wagstaffe confirmed to TheBlaze on Thursday that the detaining police officer at the scene of the crash observed a tall black man as a passenger in the vehicle and that the man did run off as police were arriving. Police didn’t pursue him, Wagstaffe said.
Wagstaffe added to TheBlaze that authorities have asked Moschref to identify the black man he insists was the driver but the “defense has not chosen to do that.”
But what Moschref allegedly did do was pay a total of 13 subsequent visits to the same resident, each time trying to convince him to sign a declaration saying the black man — not Moschref — was behind the wheel.
Later Moschref’s attorney at the time produced in court that very declaration from the resident — saying a tall black man was seen exiting the driver’s seat, Wagstaffe said.
Only problem? The resident said that declaration was fiction.
Police, after contacting the resident, reported that he “never saw or signed such a declaration” and that the signature was forged, Wagstaffe said. The defense attorney at the time told investigators Moschref gave him the declaration and assured it was accurate, authorities said.
Moschref told the San Mateo County Times that the accusations are “completely false” and that he’s “100 percent innocent” and will show a jury he’s done no wrong.
“It makes me extremely angry,” he told the County Times. “My reputation is very important to me.”
More from the County Times:
Moschref said he had just met the other man and asked him if he would drive from San Francisco to Colma because he knew he was intoxicated. The man agreed, but fled after the crash because he had also been drinking.
Moschref said a witness had indeed initially confirmed that the other man was the driver, but “got completely manipulated by the police officer” and changed the story.
“Why would somebody commit a felony crime to defend against a misdemeanor?” Moschref noted to the County Times regarding the accusation against him concerning a forged declaration. “It doesn’t make any sense. I am a rational man and not an idiot. This has been a fabrication of lies.”
Moschref has a new attorney, E. Michael Linscheid — and he told SFGate Wednesday that the black man police reported as the passenger was, in fact, behind the wheel.
What’s more, Linscheid insisted, the other witness did observe the black man exit the driver’s seat but later changed his story.
“My client has been consistent from the moment he was contacted by police,” Linscheid told SFGate, adding Moschref and an investigator repeatedly visited the witness because “he was essentially trying to prove his innocence.”
TheBlaze contacted Linscheid on Thursday to ask if Moschref offered money to the resident in exchange for a signed declaration, but the call wasn’t immediately returned.
Moschref is free on $100,000 bail; a jury trial is set for June 2 on his charges of drunken driving, making a false police report, bribing a witness, forgery and submitting false documents.
Moschref had been convicted of DUI for an incident in 2008, and his driver’s license was revoked in January because of “excessive blood-alcohol level,” according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles, SFGate reported.