Art and Culture FBI Free Speech Freedom of Information Future of Journalism Jim McDonnell LA County Jail LASD Media Paul Tanaka Sheriff Lee Baca The Feds

4 LA County Sheriff’s Deputies Suspect of Theft and Bribe Taking…CA Poor Often Given Cut Rate Legal Defense, Report Finds….Will There Be Fed Indictments for former LASD Top Brass?…& LA Press Club Award to Charlie Hebdo



FOUR LA SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT MEMBERS INVESTIGATED FOR THEFT AND BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS

Four members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have been relieved of duty without pay pending the outcome of a criminal investigation into reports that the four engaged in a scheme of thefts and bribes regarding towed vehicles or vehicles about to be towed.

According to a statement released by the LASD on Monday morning, the department became aware in December 2014 of evidence that three deputy sheriffs and a parking control officer were implicated in individual incidents of theft from towed vehicles or accepting cash from vehicle owners to avoid towing and impounding of their vehicles. All four of the department members relieved of duty worked out of Century Station located in Lynwood.

As of now, department investigators do not believe that any additional personnel were involved in the alleged theft and bribery.

“As a law enforcement organization, it is imperative that we earn the public’s trust each day,” Sheriff Jim McDonnell said in an email that went to all department members. “Acts such as those described above tarnish the badge all of us wear and erode the confidence the public has in law enforcement.

“We will respond swiftly and resolutely whenever acts of this nature come to our attention,” McDonnell continued. “We must demonstrate to the public and to our own Department family that conduct which violates the public trust will not be tolerated. In doing so we also reaffirm that the vast majority of our personnel perform their duties in an exemplary manner.”

The department is pointing to the announcement of the investigation as evidence of a new policy of transparency.

Those department members—working and retired—we spoke with about the matter on Monday said they appreciated the strategy.

“It sets a good tone,” said one retired LASD lieutenant. “It says the department is no longer going to tolerate this kind of nonsense.”

(Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department badge and patch photo above by Jaime Lopez, LASD)


ARE SOME OF CALIFORNIA’S POOREST CRIMINAL DEFENDANTS GETTING A CUT RATE DEFENSE?

In the 1963 landmark SCOTUS decision of Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the assistance of counsel for a defendant who could not afford to hire a lawyer was a fundamental right under the United States Constitution. The court’s ruling specified that such legal assistance applied to the preparation for trial as well as the trial itself.

According to a new report by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, more and more of the state’s counties are cutting funds formerly allocated to provide lawyers for those in need of counsel—and many defendants are getting inadequate “cut-rate” representation as a consequence.

Karen de Sá of the San Jose Mercury News has more on the story. Here are some clips:

Counties are increasingly hiring legal firms that offer cut-rate representation by failing to spend money on investigators or experts that are needed for adequate defense, said the report issued by the California Commission on the Fair Administration of Justice, created to examine ways to guard against wrongful convictions.

“This is like a cancer within the system of providing indigent defense, and it’s spreading,” said Gerald Uelmen, executive director of the so-called Fair Commission, calling the spread of low-bid, flat-fee private firms “a race to the bottom.”

Traditional public defenders in the pay of the various California counties are generally okay, said the report.

But lawyers who are paid a flat fee for representation, the report said, may be tempted to cut corners on pretrial preparation and avoid going to trial to save time and money.

As a solution, commissioners recommend that the state Legislature establish a body to oversee the way counties provide representation to criminal defendants, and also recommend a law to ensure that funding for experts and investigators is separate from the fee paid to the lawyers in publicly funded cases.

The Fair Administration of Justice Commission report cited research by California Western School of Law Professor Larry Benner, who found that inadequate investigation is a recurring problem in cases in which convictions were overturned because of poor representation….

The new California-based report reflects other dismal reports outlining a national crisis in indigent defense that prevents a growing number of Americans from getting adequate legal representation when they most urgently need it.


ARE FEDERAL PROSECUTORS GUNNING FOR BACA AND TANAKA WITH NEW GRAND JURY SUBPOENAS?

For the last month or so we’d been hearing that various current or former members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department had received subpoenas to appear in front of a federal grand jury, as part of an ongoing investigation into the events that resulted in the conviction of seven LASD members for obstruction of justice last year.

Moreover, several of those who were asked to appear were among the seven former department members who have already been convicted. Since all seven contended that the actions that led to their convictions were the result of orders that originated at the LASD’s highest echelon—namely from Baca and Tanaka—there has been much speculation that federal prosecutors are now hoping to indict some of those very former department higher ups.

Over the weekend, the LA Times’ Cindy Chang reported on the matter of the new grandjury subpoenas.

She wrote:

The questioning has focused partly on meetings where then-Sheriff Lee Baca and his No. 2, Paul Tanaka, discussed how to deal with the discovery of a cellphone provided to a county jail inmate by the FBI. In addition to the convicted officials, some current Sheriff’s Department officials have also received grand jury subpoenas.

Many in the Sheriff’s Department believe that low-ranking officials took the fall for following orders from Tanaka and Baca. Now, with the convening of the grand jury, it appears that prosecutors are attempting to target more sheriff’s officials after convicting seven last year for obstructing justice.

Of the seven, Gregory Thompson, a former lieutenant, and two ex-deputies, Gerard Smith and Mickey Manzo, are known to have testified before the grand jury in December, according to a source.

Brian Moriguchi, president of the L.A. County Professional Peace Officers Assn. (PPOA), the union that represents sheriff’s department supervisors, said that he knows of at least one more grand jury subpoena related to the obstruction of justice issue. But, he said, he has heard credible reports of still more such subpoenas.

So will there be new indictments?

When LASD Captain Tom Carey testified at the trials of the seven last year, he admitted that he was the subject of an ongoing federal criminal investigation. And, as WLA has previously reported, Carey was relieved of duty in December pending the result of an internal departmental investigation.

Tanaka also admitted last year to knowing he was the subject of a federal criminal probe.

Yet, despite much pestering on the part of reporters, WLA included, federal prosecutors and a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office have repeatedly declined to comment on the possibility—or lack thereof—of more indictments, and will say only that the investigation is ongoing.

Still, the new grand jury hearings have fueled new rounds of speculation.

“Of course, many of us hope the government is going to reach higher than those who have already been convicted,” Moriguchi said. “But in the end all we can do is speculate. It’s hopeful speculation, but it’s speculation, nonetheless.”

NOTE: Chang’s story has more that you’ll likely find interesting, so be sure to read the whole thing.


LA PRESS CLUB 2015 AWARD FOR COURAGE & INTEGRITY IN JOURNALISM TO GO TO CHARLIE HEBDO

The Los Angeles Press Club announced on Monday that its 2015 Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism will go to Charlie Hebdo.

“We are deeply honored. Of course, we’ll accept, said Gerard Biard, Editor-in-Chief of Charlie Hebdo.

“No act of terrorism can stop freedom of speech. Giving the Daniel Pearl Award to Charlie Hebdo is a strong message to that effect,” said LA Press Club President Robert Kovacik of NBC LA.

Since 2002, the Los Angeles Press Club in conjunction with Judea and Ruth Pearl, the parents of Wall Street Journal journalist Daniel Pearl—who was kidnapped in 2002 by Pakistani militants and later murdered by Al-Qaeda’s Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—have handed out the award to those who have displayed unusual courage in reporting.

Past recipients have included Richard Engel, the NBC correspondent who covered multiple mid east wars on the front lines, before being abducted in Syria in 2012, and Anna Politkovskaya, the Russian journalist/author who became famous for her reporting on the conflict in Chechnya, who was murdered in 2006 in the elevator outside her apartment in what was widely viewed as an ordered assassination to prevent her latest deeply reported story from being published.

The 2015 award will be presented by Judea and Ruth Pearl at a gala awards dinner held at the Biltmore hotel in Los Angeles on Sunday, June 28th.

In the meantime, Charlie Hebdo’s first cover since the murderous attack on its Paris offices that killed 12 people, will feature a tearful prophet Mohammed holding a sign that reads “Je suis Charlie.” The magazine’s headline says “All is forgiven.”

The magazine, which will go on sale on Wednesday, will reportedly print as many as record 3 million copies in 16 languages, instead of its usual 60,000.

The cover cartoon, which you can see below, was drawn by the weekly’s cartoonist Luz, who survived the massacre because he was late arriving at the office.

(Click on the Charlie Hebdo cover image to enlarge it.)

19 Comments

  • Unless the Sergeants and above give up the “Goods” … any testimony before the Grand Jury is futile.
    Any loyalty to Tanaka after being sentenced speaks for itself. It will be very interesting to find out the outcome of the Grand Jury findings.

  • Maybe Sexton’s dad, once a close confidant of Baca, will give up the goods to save his son. The Feds did want Sexton Jr to wear a wire on dad. I think he rightly refused but was there something to hide?

  • Please note the failure of the Department, to this day, of relieving of duty supervisors, managers, and executives who played a direct role in Pandora’s box. Deputies are routinely relieved of duty for accusations of serious misconduct, sometimes even fired when the Department knows full well they lack the facts to support firing, which is why deputies routinely get their jobs back via Civil Service.

    Anyone who played a role in Pandora, by either facilitating, directing, or deliberately looking the other way WHEN THE ACTS FELL WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES should be relieved of duty. Until the Department does this, they lack the moral authority to relieve anyone of duty. It’s time for McDonnell to show some leadership on this issue, or is he waiting for an easy out by hoping some of them retire in March? The 100 day clock is ticking…

  • Tom Carey and Greg Thompson hold the GOODS that would definitely get Tanaka and Baca indicted. It will be interesting to see what happens when they testify to the Grand Jury.

  • Thank god the convicted Deps are still out. My heart goes out to them. Again, a bunch of individuals choose to condemn these people. At one time I wanted to leave this liberal State and work NYPD. 30 years later, I regret I didn’t. A reminder to all those line personnel blogging on here, the idiots that claim to be current or former management were/are part of the problem. Being a line person for 30 years, you get a different perspective in regards to management. You see all the backstabbing, camp jumping, and all the lies. Note to line folks, this is not the LASD I once, knew. We are in no way family. Management has made sure of this. Don’t be afraid to stand up to them. They are only men/women who probably have less experience than the average FTO.

  • There are still a lot people present and accounted for at EPC who were involved. They just can’t recall it if asked in an on the record environment.

    San Dimas Station + MCB + ICB + Detective Bureau + Custody/OSJ= 3 Divisions who were directed to participate and work together.

    There was a commander at the time in charge of OSJ that is now a Chief.

    Dr. Seuss had it right, “oh the places you will go………”

  • Captain James Ritenour is leaving. He may or may not have been directly involved in Pandora’s Box…..however, he knew about it and did nothing.

    He definitely was one of Tanaka’s boys.

  • Custody division commanders who are now chiefs, Abner, Mannis, and a host of lieutenants and captains who ensured Pandora happened. It didn’t occur in a vacuum, with only the retired and the convicted playing the game. There were dozens of players in between, some who have promoted more than once since then.

  • @9 – That mix was purposefully stacked with, and run by Tanaka loyalists – for reasons we all know…

    @10 – MCB captain has been involved in more than we know

    and, @11 – Yes – all those executives who blindly followed the corrupt leadership of LASD – remain in place. With all the angst, effort and sacrifice by so many over the past few years, “they” still remain in power and in positions of LASD leadership. Disconcerting and shameful.

  • Ritenour worked MCB(2009-2013) and he was DIRECTLY involved in Pandora’s box. He retired Thursday 1-15-15. Abner retires next month 2-5-15.

    There are many executive’s who are playing chameleon with McDonnell. The residual of Tanakanites still on the Department are playing possum.

    Trust me………it ain’t over, not even for ALADS. Those in the know already know.Every knock at their residence will not come from a solicitor. Guaranteed.

  • It’s amazing how people in power can careless how their decisions effect the lives of others. Whatever happen to the saying “With great power, comes great responsibility”?

    Now that the feds have shifted their investigations a bit toward the upper management I bet it is a shock to their system.

    The core values, mission statement, law enforcement oath,…etc is not just for line deputies to follow, it should have been adhered to by all ranks.

    That karma is quite the “B@tch”.

  • If my favorite former IAB Captain is ever indicted…..I will be there the day she is sentenced with a bouquet of flowers to send her off!

  • @ “For the Record”, “Shine Some Light” and “Bandwagon” all your posts have very valid points. Especially how it is a shock too some Upper Management and future indictments. I am very curious to what Thompson testified to last week.

  • #9 you are spot on about that. Yet those same two Commanders (now Chiefs) are so pompous they continue with their non sense. Why does one continually remove his plates from his county car. Is it so that his plates do not get recognised in a place he should not be? Or is it because he allows his 924 to drive it around.

  • Nothing has changed, if you are a Tanakanite an under an ICIB/IA investigation you are still protected. I know for a fact, there is a Sgt who has since confessed to domestic abuse and lieing in a police report in a handwritten confession letter. Yet the letter still sits in IA and he is still getting OT gigs. Pathetic.

  • With a Chief vacancy this month and Commander vacancy next month all eyes are on Jim McDonnell. Who he promotes will be very telling!

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