Hollywood dreams: The murder of Juliana Redding
Kelly Soo Park and Dr. Munir Uwaydah
According to the Los Angeles Times and other news sources, Kelly Soo Park was allegedly paid $250,000 three weeks before Juliana Redding was killed. In the days just prior to her arrest two years later, members of Park's family allegedly received a payment of $113,400, according to the motion filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court. It was alleged that the money had come from Park's employer, Dr. Munir Uwaydah, 44, who had also been paying Park a monthly salary of $10,000 since at least 2008. It was also reported that Uwaydah, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, had a tarnished past stemming from his purchase in 2001 of a $1 million radiology scanner for which he allegedly never paid, according to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the Ninth Circuit Court as well as in documents filed with the Medical Board of California. Uwaydah allegedly purchased a CT scanner from General Electric Medical Systems in Europe for a contracted price of $1,070,000 that was delivered to one of Uwaydah's affiliates in Saudi Arabia, but failed to pay for the device. Federal courts in Ohio have held that he never intended to pay for the equipment and declared it fraud, although Uwaydah has denied that he committed fraud. He filed bankruptcy in an effort to have the debt discharged, but the U.S. Bankruptcy Court has decided that his debt for the equipment was nondischargeable.
According to published reports, medical and court records show that Uwaydah was convicted in a civil action in 2005 of defrauding the medical supply company out of almost $1 million, and he is currently under investigation for possibly filing fraudulent insurance claims that could reach millions of dollars. In 2009, authorities in California began proceedings to revoke Uwaydah's license to practice medicine for allegedly permitting a physician assistant to start a surgical procedure outside his presence. The formal accusation alleging that Uwaydah, a graduate of the American University of Beirut, had violated the Medical Practice Act is currently unresolved: Uwaydah has not had a hearing nor has he been found guilty of any of the accusations. However, according to documents filed by the Medical Board of California, Uwaydah stands accused of gross negligence on more than one occasion for allegedly allowing his physician assistant to "begin a surgical procedure on a patient under general anesthesia" despite Uwaydah absence from the operating room.
Uwaydah's whereabouts are currently unknown-he disappeared in late June 2010 after being sought for questioning about the death of Juliana Redding. The five-foot, eleven-inch, 180 pound doctor with brown hair and green eyes has been described as both intelligent and vain, and has boasted of speaking fluent Arabic, French, English and Spanish. He holds licenses to practice medicine in Ohio, California, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and Illinois. Uwaydah reportedly was known by U.S. authorities to have a bank account in Beirut, and is the subject of numerous lawsuits.
Uwaydah's attorney, Henry Fenton, denied that Uwaydah had anything to do with Redding's murder. Fenton also maintained that he was not aware of the allegations regarding medical fraud or payments to Park. According to Fenton, Uwaydah was traveling abroad and was unreachable.
"It's all bologna," Fenton said. "It's all untrue. Dr. Uwaydah had nothing to do with this case."
According to the Los Angeles Times, Fenton said that he had offered to set up a meeting between Uwaydah and Los Angeles prosecutors, but they had snubbed his offer. Fenton would not discuss his client's whereabouts with reporters.
Santa Monica authorities would not confirm that they were investigating Uwaydah as a suspect in Redding's death, but Deputy District Attorney Alan Jackson called him a "subject of interest" in the murder at the July 20 bail hearing for Park before Judge Schwartz in which Jackson sought to have Park's bail increased to $3.5 million and sought to establish additional close ties between Park and Uwaydah. According to the Los Angeles Times, the prosecutor also alleged at Park's bail hearing that Uwaydah had briefly dated Redding. If true, such a relationship with Redding only deepened the mystery.