Appellate court asks why cosmetics heir given $10 million bail

VENTURA, Calif. - Appellate justices are considering whether a Ventura County judge violated the constitutional rights of an heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune by setting his bail at $10 million.

The 36-year-old heir, Andrew Luster, has been jailed for four months on charges he drugged and sexually assaulted three women at his Mussel Shoals home. He faces 50 criminal counts, including the alleged use of the so-called date-rape drug GHB.

Luster's lawyers claim bail set by Superior Court Judge Art Gutierrez was unreasonable and asked the 2nd District Court of Appeal to lower the amount.

''Obviously it is excessive,'' said defense attorney Roger Jon Diamond of Santa Monica. ''Nobody could make that, maybe Bill Gates and a couple of millionaires. It is just too high for most people, including Mr. Luster.''

The appellate court has ordered Gutierrez to set bail at a reasonable amount or to explain the $10 million amount during a Dec. 14 hearing.

Prosecutors say Luster, who faces 175 years in prison if convicted, is a danger to women who has the means to flee the United States.

Senior Deputy District Attorney Peter Kossoris said detectives executing a search warrant at Luster's home found a passport and financial documents indicating Luster has assets valued at more than $31 million.

Diamond said his client does not have the financial means to post $10 million bond and is not a flight risk. He said the bail amount is so high it violates Luster's 8th Amendment protections against excessive bail.

Diamond said his client would agree to house arrest, electronic monitoring and other conditions, including being under guard, if released on bail.

Prosecutors charge Luster raped three women after giving them doses of the sedative gamma hydroxybutyric acid, commonly known as GHB.

Authorities said he videotaped the assaults.

According to a brief written by prosecutors defending Gutierrez's decision, Luster allegedly bragged during a police interview that he has property and assets all over the world.

''I'm a wealthy guy,'' Luster told detectives, according to the brief. ''I can't screw up. I am not going to lose my money.''


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