Thomas Gionis

While most of my blogs here pertain to murders that have occurred, not all are actually murder cases. We all know though that there are times in which a murder has not occurred but it is not from a lack of trying. While this case does not involve a murder, although it very well could have, it does have other interesting elements. There is a Hollywood side to this case as well as a more prestigious side then we sometimes see.

On October 3, 1988 Aissa Wayne, daughter of legendary actor John Wayne, was beaten inside the garage of her new boyfriend's home. The boyfriend, Roger Luby was also attacked in his Newport Beach California home. The two had just returned to the home after working out at the gym. As they pulled into the garage and emerged from the car two men attacked them. They were thrown onto the concrete floor of the garage. Luby would be pistol whipped as well as have his Achilles tendon slashed in one of his legs. Aissa would have her face slammed onto the garage floor in which her head was split open. Aissa would require over two dozen stitches to her head and Luby would be for forced to wear a full cast from his ankle to his hip for several weeks and then another case for a while. It appears that Roger died in late 2016 but by all accounts it seems that he had issues with his foot for the remainder of his life.

Aissa Wayne had married orthopedic surgeon Thomas Gionis in 1986. The following year their daughter, Anastasia was born. According to Aissa, Thomas often warned her that she was not to get in the way of his relationship with his daughter. He would continually tell her that if she left him and attempted to take their child that he would take the child and move to his native Greece and she would never see her daughter again. She would eventually leave him, seemingly when Anastasia was just a few months old. A bitter custody battle began. The two were to meet in court again in November, the month after Aissa and Roger Luby were attacked. The two had not been dating long and by all accounts the relationship would not last long after either. Who can hardly blame them?

It seems that all eyes went to Gionis fairly quickly. He would go to trial in 1990 but the jury would deadlock on a decision. In July of 1992 he would again go on trial where he would be convicted and given a five year sentence. He would also receive a $10,000 fine and three years of probation. Citing that Gionis was potentially a flight risk he had bail set at $2M after his conviction as he planned to appeal. An appeals court would apparently overturn his conviction in 1994 but the state would appeal that and the state Supreme Court would reverse the overturned conviction in 1995.

Thomas Gionis would not be the only person charged in this case. Three others would spend time in prison for the attack also. Prosecutors would determine that soon after Aissa left and the divorce had been filed that Gionis had hired a private detective named Oded Daniel Gal. It appears that while Gal was hired by Gionis that it was through him that two other men, Jerrel Hintergardt and Jeffrey Bouey would become involved. Prosecutors could never find a direct link between Gionis and Hintergardt or even Bouey, but they did have the link to Gal. While the other three perpetrators would not testify against Gionis they had been able to determine that there were thousands of calls and text floating between Gionis, Gal and Hintergardt both before and after the attack. One of the most incriminating was the fact that almost immediately after police had informed Gal that his car had been seen near the scene of the attack he called Hintergardt. Prosecutors were able to show that Gionis had given an extreme amount of money to Gal and that the largest, a $40,000 payment was made within two weeks of the attack. But that was not all that they had.

Several people would testify against Gionis and his behaviors at his trial. One former employee at his clinic, Christine Foss would claim that Gionis had told her he could hire people to hurt Aissa if she “messed with him.” Foss would also claim that both she, and another employee had been forced to resign when they had gone to watch Aissa play tennis after their separation.

The 1994 overturning of the conviction had a few points made, the most important one involved the testimony of a man named John Lueck. Lueck was an attorney, but he was also friends with both Aissa and Thomas. Gionis. The appeals court had ruled that they believed that Lueck's testimony at trial had violated attorney/client privileged. The later court would disagree with this and I agree. It seems that John Lueck, as I said was friends with the couple and Lueck would often refer clients to Gionis' clinic for medical evaluations. Lueck testified that Gionis had told him things including that Aissa had no idea how easily he could hire someone “to take care of her” if he wanted to and that he had the patience to wait for just the right moment to avoid suspicion. Lueck would testify that Gionis had asked him to represent him in the custody battle but that he had refused because he was friends with both of them but he did represent him once when Gionis insisted an emergency hearing was needed and his attorney was not available. Apparently the judge at that hearing accused Lueck of being part of what the judge saw as harassment against Aissa. It appears that the issue Gionis insisted they needed a hearing for had been settled already. The first appeals court ruled that Lueck's testimony violated the attorney/client privilege rule but the Supreme Court disagreed. It appears that Lueck, aside from the one hearing, had simply been a friend of Gionis' and despite his career choice he was not acting as his attorney when the conversations were had. I agree with this as it seems clear that Lueck had been firm in not representing Gionis in the custody battle against Aissa and if he had not been prior he surely was after he had agreed for the one hearing.

The other issue at hand in the 1994 appeal revolved around what they called prosecutor misconduct and improper treatment of the defense by the prosecutors in their closing arguments. The 1995 appeal ruled that while this was not obviously great, it was not enough, combined with the other evidence to warrant a vacation of the conviction.

Aside from the evidence of the contact between the perpetrators, something else was highly noted in the trial. While they could not prove, nor did they apparently try to prove that this was to be any more than an attack on the victims, the fact that Roger Luby's Achilles tendon was cut was interesting. This is not something that is regularly done in an attack, and apparently either Hintergardt or Bouey had attempted to slash Luby's other one, but the fact that the man who was accused of setting up the attack was an orthopedic surgeon became a key point. It appears that although Hintergardt did not testify, he had admitted his role and indicated that he was instructed to do this injury. As an orthopedic surgeon, Gionis would know the effects and the damage that it could and would cause.

At his sentencing there was a report made by a probation officer who would say that Gionis had not “come to terms with his rage and need for control.” His attorneys would claim that this behavior and his lack of showing of remorse had been encouraged to preserve that position for an appeal. I think this statement says a lot. Gionis of course attempted to say that he was not involved, despite all of the evidence presented that included his behaviors and instead of saying that his lack of remorse was due to the fact that he was innocent his defense simply stated that it was basically an “act” to preserve the right to appeal.

At the time of the attack Gionis was also being investigated for sexual misconduct with a patient. Later more accusations were made against him regarding sexual relations with patients as well as his associates would claim he had been involved in “financial misconduct.” Gionis' reputation and license was on the line. It appears that he did lose his medical license for a time in California but from what I could gather he was working on getting them back. It also seems that sometime later both Gionis, as well as Aissa Wayne, went to school and obtained law degrees. Interestingly enough she obtained hers first.

Oded Gal, the private investigator involved, would plead guilty to four felony counts involved in this case. I was unable to determine what he was ultimately sentenced to serve. The same goes for Jeffrey Bouey. At the time of Gionis' 1992 trial he was still awaiting to be tried. Considering that the sentences were all fairly short ones and this case took place in the early 1990's I was unable to find much in the Department of Corrections in California as none of the participants are still serving time for this.

As for Jerrel Hintergardt, he would apparently take his case to trial in May of 1990. Both Aissa Wayne and Roger Luby would identify him as one of their attacker. Interestingly enough his defense would claim that he was innocent and that at the time the attacks were committed he was having work done on a foot and was not capable of committing the crime. However, at some point it seems in the trial that Hintergardt admitted the role that he played. He was convicted on eight counts and sentenced to eight years in prison.

As far as the custody of their child, what apparently seemed to start all of this to begin with, at some point, at least throughout the trial it appears that Gionis' family was being allowed to have visitation with Anastasia but it was said she had every intention to have that changed. Today Anastasia would be an adult daughter and it was unclear her relationship with either of her parents.


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