I’ve been a big fan of the television show Drunk History for a while now although it is relatively obscure even in America and completely unknown here in Romania. The current Comedy Central version is much slicker and better produced but it’s actually based on an earlier internet-only version which was far funnier (for the record, my favorite episode is Jen Kirkman talking about Oney Judge).
Essentially the format is that second-rate (American) comedians get drunk and then tell true stories from history which are then re-enacted by (increasingly) famous actors, hopefully being both educational and entertaining at the same time.
Whatever your opinion of the show, it got me to thinking – what would “Drunk Romanian History” be like? Certainly there’s enough weird, bizarre, crazy, unusual and nearly unbelievable but yet still true shit that goes on in this country to merit its own television show. The problem is that just about nobody here knows enough of their own history (especially the comedic side of it) to really go about telling it.
That is, of course, except for Yours Truly. And while at the moment I’ve got a severe summer cold which prevents me from getting drunk, not to mention the unavailability of (even non-famous) actors to play the parts of the stories, it occurred to me that even in the present day there are just so many weird and outlandish people “making” history in this country whose tales are worth telling.
So in a completely sober and different way, below is the True Tale of one of Romania’s most bizarre living people.
Now frankly I still haven’t quite yet determined if this woman is wearing a wig or if she goes through all the trouble of partially dying her hair bright fucking red but either way, this is the same hairstyle that Lorette Luca has been sporting for years.
She’s a lawyer from Brasov who is essentially the Romanian version of Johnnie Cochran, taking on the most scandalous and famous cases and constantly, constantly, constantly getting herself on television whenever possible.
For those of you who speak Romanian, Luca’s most famous involvement was with the Elodia Ghinescu case. In 2004, Elodia, herself a lawyer in Brasov, married a man named Constantin Cioaca, a local police chief, and in 2007 she “came up missing” or was officially reported missing.
Elodia’s body has never been found but some pieces of evidence (including a bloody glove, very Johnnie Cochran-esque!) were discovered in a forested area near Brasov and the case became a media sensation due to constant flogging and speculation on the gossip channels, particularly Dan Diaconescu’s OTV (about which I’ve written before).
In the end, the husband Cioaca was convicted of Elodia’s murder but not before Lorette Luca, who had personally known both people, got her 15 minutes (and then some) of fame, endlessly talking about it on all the TV shows.
But if you don’t speak Romanian, the most famous case you probably know about is the infamous witches, including Melissa Minca, which prompted the World’s Most Intrepid Reporter, Alison Mutler, to file this Pulitzer Prize-worthy story about a proposed “witch tax”. Turns out that sadly, the witch tax bill was never passed into law.
But what was never mentioned in those original articles was that Lorette Luca represented Witch Melissa as well as two other witches in several high-profile cases where jilted clients sued the former “magic workers” after being allegedly “forced” into handing over expensive valuables, including in one instance an entire house.
Luca’s also been involved in other high-profile cases, including representing fellow lawyer Victor Teodorescu, who paid a guy to kill his (Victor’s) wife and then kept a bunch of detailed drawings of the proposed murder laying around his house, which just goes to demonstrate the level of genius you can find in the Brasovean courts.
Luca also defended another criminal “mastermind” named Ionel Spataru who was convicted of taking a 60,000 euro bribe, his “brilliant” defense being that the money was actually supposed to be a political donation to the local PDL party.
And despite the fact that she’s a lawyer in Brasov, somehow Luca got involved in the case of Marin Balasa in Ilfov, who paid someone to kill a young man who was dealing drugs to his (Balasa’s) son, who had (the son) a long history of addiction to heroin. It didn’t help Balasa’s case much either that the young murdered drug dealer was an ethnic gypsy.
And last but not least (prompting this article), today I saw the red-streaked wig/hair of Luca pop up on my screen because she’s now representing Veronica Cirstoiu, a Bucharest judge accused of taking over a million euros in bribes to fix cases.
While it seems like the whole Cirstoiu family is dirty as hell (her son seems to be the bag man, taking money from people with a case in his mom’s court), this case is especially bizarre because the main accusation is that Judge Cirstoiu’s “secret signal” that she needed a bribe would be that she would “arrange her hair and smile” in the courtroom. No offense to Veronica but I saw her all over TV this week and she should’ve spent some of that (alleged!) bribe money fixing up her hair for real.
Luca of course is strenuously defending her client saying that there’s “no evidence” that the judge took the money and of course it’s all just one big coinkydink that her son is getting staggering sums of money put into his bank account for no particular reason at all, but if I were Cirstoiu I’d hire a better lawyer immediately.
That’s because, unlike Johnnie Cochran, Lorette Luca pretty much never wins any of her cases and all of her above clients have gone to jail for lengthy terms. Her crazy red hair and eagerness to be on TV are great for publicity but when it comes to, you know, actually avoiding conviction for her clients, her track record is fucking terrible.
Nonetheless, she is still referred to regularly as the “renowned lawyer” Lorette (spelled “Laurette” by Digi24 for some inexplicable reason) Luca, which kind of goes to show you what a bizarre circus Romania is sometimes.
AND NOW YOU KNOW!