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Paul Tanaka


” F— the FBI!” – Trial of Former LASD Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, Part 3

March 30th, 2016 by Celeste Fremon


The trial of Paul Tanaka, the former second in command
of the nation’s largest sheriff’s department, finished its second day of testimony on Tuesday.

Mr. Tanaka, who is charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, reportedly once believed himself to be a sure thing to replace former sheriff Lee Baca as the department’s leader, when Baca resigned.

In fact last Friday, during the first day of testimony, one of the witnesses—retired LASD commander Bob Olmsted—said as much to the jury in response to questions.

(“I make all the decisions in on the department,” Olmsted said Tanaka confided later. “I make all the promotions in the department. And I’m going to be the sheriff for the next 15 years [after Baca], so I need my people around me.)

The first witness up on Tuesday, was former LASD deputy Mickey Manzo, who is one of the seven former department members who were convicted of obstruction of justice nearly two years ago. Their convictions have since been appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Manzo told the jury that now, post conviction, he’s working as a receiving associate at Home Depot. Yet, he looked relaxed on the stand, although he did not want to be there, and had to be officially compelled by judicial order and promised limited immunity.

Much of the purpose of Manzo’s testimony seemed to be to place Mr. Tanaka at crucial meetings, and to give some of the details of his alleged words, actions and influence in relationship to the series of events that have resulted in the charges against him.

Before his conviction forced to leave the department, Manzo was a member of Operation Safe Jails (OSJ) the gang investigative unit that worked inside the county’s jail system.

Manzo told how, in mid-August 2011, he learned from another jail investigator that an inmate named Anthony Brown had been caught with a contraband cell phone. Yet, when the other investigator had the numbers on the phone traced, counter to conventional expectations, Brown had not been calling family or criminal confederates with his mobile device. Instead, he had been calling the civil rights unit of the Los Angeles office of the FBI.

Manzo said he immediately passed along this startling information to his boss, Lt. Greg Thompson (another of the seven who have already been convicted of obstruction) who then directed him to interview Brown early the next morning, along with Manzo’s partner, Deputy Gerard Smith (also among the seven previously convicted), because he would need to brief Sheriff Baca, and then undersheriff Tanaka.

Manzo told the jury about how Thompson arranged for him and Smith to attend the meeting, which took place later that same afternoon, on August 19, 2011.
Manzo described Baca’s demeanor at the meeting as “confused, as if he didn’t know what was going on.

Prosecutor Brandon Fox asked about Tanaka’s demeanor?

“He was visibly upset.”


F— THE MOTHERF—–S!

Manzo and Smith were also permitted to attend the meeting called by Baca for the following day, August 20, 2011. The meeting was on a Saturday, and Baca showed up wearing a tracksuit. Heads of various departmental units were there, including Tom Carey, captain of the department’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau or ICIB. (Carey was originally Tanaka’s co-defendant, but he has now made a deal with the feds, in return for testimony.)

According to Manzo, the highlight of the meeting came when Thompson played excerpts from recordings of the Brown interview to those gathered, (excerpts that the jury heard on Tuesday aw well). When the recordings stopped paying, Manzo reported, Tanaka reacted to what he’d heard with fury.

“He stood up,” Manzo told the jury, “and said ‘Those motherfuckers! Who do they think they are?! Fuck them!

Them meaning the FBI, Manzo explained.

While the witness spoke, over at the defense table, Mr. Tanaka, who was dressed in a grey suit, a blue shirt, and a Wedgwood colored tie, wrote furiously in a lined notebook without looking up during most of Manzo’s testimony.

Manzo said that Baca announced that Captain Carey would be heading up the investigation, and that everything that came out of the investigation would be run through Mr. Tanaka.

Baca and Tanaka then left the meeting, and a few minutes later, Tanaka came back alone.

According to Manzo, Tanaka said that he’d known the sheriff for a long time and he’d never seen him that upset, and that the investigation into the Brown matter was hugely important.

In a later email, Manzo’s partner, Gerard Smith, would characterize Tanaka as saying the investigation into Brown, the cell phone, and Brown’s connection to the FBI was “one of the most important investigations in the department’s 160 year history.”


SHUTTING OUT THE FBI

Tanaka also said, according to Manzo, that “nobody could interview Mr. Brown without Tanaka’s approval.”

But, as luck would have it, that’s not how things worked out.

On August 21, Manzo, Smith plus ICIB lieutenant Steve Leavins (yet one more of the convicted seven) interviewed Anthony Brown again.

Two days after that, on August 23, according to Manzo’s testimony and also later testimony by FBI special agent David Dahle, three FBI agents, including special agent Leah Marx, and Dahle, came to Men’s Central Jail and checked in, using the routine that was usual for law enforcement who are coming to MCJ to interview inmates. Initially, all went as expected; no one stopped them and they spent time with Brown, asking him about the cell phone discovery, and reassuring him they would be back soon. Then, however, around an hour into their conversation, an LASD sergeant burst into the interview room and announced tersely that the interview was “over.”

According to Manzo, Greg Thompson learned of the FBI’s presence when the interview was already well in progress. Furious, Thompson made a call and demanded that the interview “be cancelled.”

ICIB’s Leavins wanted to know how this could have happened, said Manzo.

Later, Thompson reportedly told Manzo “he was going to go up to Mr. Tanaka’s office and, to use is words, ‘fall on the sword.’”

Manzo was present at the falling-on-sword meeting later that day.

“We got yelled at quite extensively,” Manzo told the jury. “[Tanaka] said that we had really let him down, that this was a hugely important investigation and we let him down.”

Then Tanaka again cranked up the intensity and decibel level, according to Manzo.

“Fuck the FBI!” he yelled.

Manzo read aloud a later email string between assistant sheriff Cecil Rhambo and Manzo’s boss, Thompson, that had been exchanged, post Tanaka meeting. In one email Rhambo characterizesd the FBI being allowed to get to Brown as “the mother of all screw ups.’ Still, Rhambo assured Thompson, “He still loves you, as do I.” He being Tanaka.

In other emails, the jury heard that now “all FBI interviews would be subject to approval by Mr. Tanka.

On whose orders? asked Fox.

“He [Thompson] said ‘this is what Mr. Tanaka wants.”

Anothter exchange of emails Manzo read to the jury indicated that at first Thompson was going to send out “a custody-wide notice, effective immediately, about the requirement to require any FBI approaches to Brown to be approved by undersheriff Tanaka.” But The former undersheriff rethought the idea of having his name on such an order.

In a subsequent email, Thompson said he would “remove all reference to [Tanaka]and all executives.”

Instead the jail liaison was to be the official gate-keeper, as far as most were concerned.

Yet, at the August 23, fall-on-the-sword meeting, according to Manzo, Tanaka wanted “a one hundred percent guarantee that it [the FBI getting to Brown] wouldn’t happen again.”

Thus the idea was launched for rotating teams of guards—two guards to a team—to be stationed outside Brown’s cell, round the clock.

Brandon Fox: Were there any discussions of Anthony Brown’s safety at that meeting?

Manzo: No


WHO GAVE WHAT ORDERS?

Much of the rest of Manzo’s testimony contained information on such topics as how Anthony Brown’s guard detail was allegedly set up, how Brown’s name was changed to obscure his whereabouts, and how he was made to vanish from the jail computer system.

On cross examination, attorney for the defense, Dean Steward made the point that, due to his new status as an informer, inmate Brown legitimately needed protection, that he could have been in danger from other inmates, and also from deputies on whom he had attempted to inform.

Steward also established that Baca spoke, by far, the most at what Steward christened the “track suit meeting,” in reference to the former sheriff’s get-up at the August 20, 2011 gathering, called after the discovery of Brown and the phone.

“Did he tell everyone to get to the bottom of what was happening…?”

Manzo agreed Baca did.

“And he talked about Anthony Brown being protected?”

Manzo again agreed.

(And although it was not counterclaimed again on Tuesday, it is still important to note that, in opening statements, defense attorney Jerome Haig stated unequivocally that Paul Tanaka never said “Fuck the FBI.”)


SCOPE AND PROCESS

The rest of the day featured testimony by FBI Special Agent David Dahle and LASD Commander Judy Gerhardt.

Dahle spoke about the scope of the FBI’s investigation into brutality and corruption inside the sheriff’s department, and gave small glimpses into the process used, including the differences between overt and covert investigations, and how the grand jury process worked.

For instance, Dahle said that over 80 witnesses were subpoenaed to testify in front of a grand jury, and more than 80 did indeed testify.

Over a half million documents were subpoenaed during the investigation, said Dahle.

Also, with Dahle on the stand, the prosecution played excerpts from the multiple interviews by various department members—most of them now convicted of and sentenced for obstruction of justice—-and inmate and FBI informant Anthony Brown.

Across the various interviews, those doing the questioning seemed most interested in what Mr. Brown knew about the feds who were investigating their jails, how long they had been investigating, and what information he had given them in the course of his time as an informant. Browns questioners agreed to supply their subject with cheeseburgers, and cigarettes if he would cooperate.

Stay tuned for Part 4.

And, if you missed them, read Part 1 and Part 2.

Posted in Paul Tanaka | 39 Comments »

The Trial of Paul Tanaka, Part 2: The “Context” and “the Crime”

March 28th, 2016 by Celeste Fremon


THE CONTEXT AND THE CRIME

“Every crime has a context,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox in his opening statement in the federal trial of Paul Tanaka, the former second in command of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department who, for years was the man who many assumed would be the next sheriff.

Opening statements were Thursday. Then on Friday, the prosecution called its first witnesses—all but one of whom were on the stand to give the jury a picture of what prosecutor Fox had called “the context” of the crimes with which Mr. Tanaka has been charged. Witnesses pertaining to the actual alleged crimes—AKA what this trial is ultimately about—will take the stand next Tuesday.

(The court is dark on Mondays.)

On Friday, however, the prosecution’s witnesses each possessed one piece of the portrait the prosecution is endeavoring to paint for the jury, depicting a supervisor who favored a cowboy brand of law enforcement where toughness was allowed for— even required—and deputies were encouraged to step over the legal line, as needed. In this portrait, the defendant rigorously enforced his point of view by protecting rule-breaking deputies and supervisors loyal to him, from any and all consequences. Often this meant retaliating swiftly and ruthlessly against anyone who didn’t follow and support his point of view.

First up was former LASD lieutenant, Alfred Gonzalez, who had worked both in the department’s Internal Affairs bureau and, in the last few years before he retired in 2007, at Men’s Central Jail, primarily on the 3000 floor.

When on the stand, he described to the jury how he was initially assigned to the graveyard shift in MCJ when he began to notice a pattern of a high level use of force on the 3000 and 2000 floors. As he reviewed the force reports, he noticed a cookie-cutter sameness to a lot of the mandatory written reports that were generated after the force incidents, which struck him as suspicious.


THE 2000 AND 3000 BOYS

Gonzalez also described the actions of deputy clicks on those two floors, the members of which associated only with each other, and whose loyalty seemed to be to the cliques they called the 3000 Boys or the 2000 Boys, not to the department. And it was these clique members, Gonzalez told the jury, who were responsible for some of the worst instances of force, and also for some off duty incidents. “They were getting in bar fights,” Gonzales said on cross-examination. “It wasn’t just camaraderie. They wouldn’t associate with anyone else.”

(WLA’s report on Gonzalez’s testimony at the Jail Commission has additional details of the experiences he reported with problem deputies at MCJ and with Tanaka, much of which duplicated his testimony on Friday.)

Gonzalez related how he and other supervisors, including the then captain of MCJ, John Clark, were concerned about the aggressive attitudes of the cliques and the spiking force reports, and made some progress in mitigating force issues with greater supervision. But the progress was not nearly enough. So, Gonzalez explained, Clark decided to implement a rotation system that didn’t alter times of the deputies’ shifts, but instead regularly rotated the deputies to different locations in the jail, so that cliques couldn’t cluster together at work. (A similar rotation system had been successful in lowering force numbers under a previous MCJ captain, although Gonzalez didn’t bring this up.)

Yet before the new strategy could be launched, according to Gonzalez, Tanaka called a meeting of the MCJ administrators and canceled the rotation system in a state of fury, reportedly shouting that the captain and the supervisors were “dinosaurs” who needed to learn to “coddle” their young deputies.

“He said, ‘You will stay off these floors and let the deputies do what they have to do!’” Never mind, said Gonzalez, that “when the supervisors weren’t on the floors, force went up.”

Former MCJ captain John Clark was called to the stand next. Clark is a straight-backed, Basset-eyed man who spoke concisely and clearly. He explained why he felt the rotation system Gonzalez had described was important. He said he’d tried other methods to solve the problem, but they hadn’t gotten the desired results. So he’d gotten the rotation approved with his direct superiors and with employee relations. “Then I put out a memo to deputies,” telling them of the change, and encouraging them to discuss any concerns with him, he said.

Instead, he was “told that Mr. Tanaka did not approve of the plan,” said Clark. The supervisors’ meeting was called. After the meeting and the alleged shouting, Clark managed to meet privately with the then assistant sheriff, at which time Clark said he explained why the rotation would be useful in lowering force. “But he told me to make it go away before it ended up in the sheriff’s office.”

Clark understood the threat.

“I took that to mean I would be transferred,” he said. The rotation was trashed, as required. Almost immediately, Clark was transferred anyway.


THE REGULATORS AND CROSSING THE BLUE LINE

The next witnesse, Steve Roller, seemed to particularly capture the jurors’ attention.

Roller, now retired, told how he became the captain of the department’s Century Station in 2005. Century, which is located in Lynwood California, and also polices the unincorporated areas of Florence/Firestone, Walnut Park, Athens Park, Rosewood, and Willowbrook. In short, Century’s patrol area is considered to be high in crime and gang heavy.

Roller told the jury that when he took over as captain, Century was in a dismaying state when it came to use of force, and complaints of deputy wrongdoing. “They had the highest use of significant force in the department,” said Roller, and had “the top number of resident complaints.” And, said Roller, Century had “more officer-involved shootings than the entire rest of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department” combined.

Added to everything, there was a group of deputies, he said, who seemed to have assumed control of the station. This deputy clique controlled who got overtime, who was on what shift, and more. “They called themselves the Regulators,” said Roller.

He saw demonstrations of the clique’s influence in various ways. For instance, at a funeral for a deputy who had worked Century in the past, one of the prominent floral arrangements featured a number that turned out to be the dead man’s “Regulator number,” indicating the order in which he’d been chosen for and initiated into the group.

And there were other things, like reports that the Regulators were extorting money from probationary deputies for Regulators’ events and to make up lost wages for a member who was disciplined for misconduct.

Roller told the jury he called a meeting with six or seven of the Regulator leaders and laid down some boundaries. He also made changes in staffing positions, which put limits on the things that the Regulators could control.

It helped, he said. The problematic behavior of the group lessoned.

Then came the request from Paul Tanaka—then Assistant Sheriff—who said he wanted to come to an all station meeting. The meeting was scheduled for June 28, 2007 at 2 p.m..

Both sworn and unsworn staff were there, Roller told the jury. Tanaka didn’t show up until 2:30 p.m. so Roller spoke first. He noted that shootings were down, and so were complaints. He praised the deputies for their efforts.

Then Tanaka arrived and delivered a very different message, according to Roller. “He said that he hated internal affairs, and that it had no place in the department. “ Roller said that Tanaka told those assembled that he didn’t like captains who put cases on deputies and that if he thought a captain was putting too many IA cases on deputies, he would see to it that an IA case was put on that captain.

Then, according to Roller, Tanaka began talking about the “blue line.”

The “blue line,” explained Roller, has to do with ethical law enforcement conduct. It is the line that cannot be crossed, he said.

However, according to Roller, that day in 2007, Tanaka told deputies that in rough environments like Century, they had to work right on the line and “cross it at times,” and to “deal aggressively with gang members,” plus similar words to that effect.

Roller said he was “in shock.” Here the assistant sheriff of the department was undermining “everything I was trying to do.”

“I was trying to get them to toe the blue line, and he told them they had to be very aggressive and sometimes cross it…”

Roller said he told his chief about what had happened, and the chief asked him to put the experience into memo form.

At prosecutor Fox’s request, Roller read several paragraphs from the memo he wrote. (You can find the Roller memo here.)

“Three weeks after I wrote the memo, I was on vacation in Alaska when I received a phone call telling me I was being transferred effective immediately.”

Sheriff Baca was theoretically the person in charge of such transfers. But Roller said it was later made clear to him that it was in fact the assistant sheriff who had triggered his removal from Century.

On cross, attorney for the defense Steward, noted that Rollers descriptions of what Tanaka said were harsher in his testimony that in the memo, suggesting that Roller was maybe exaggerating now.

Roller replied without hesitation. “This memo was, quite honestly toned down from my recollection of the meeting because I didn’t know where the memo would go….”

The defense pointed specifically to the “blue line” section.

“He said sometimes deputies had to cross the line,” replied Roller.

But did Roller put that phrase in the memo?

“No,” said Roller, entirely unrattled. “But I said it to my chief.” Roller reiterated that he toned the verbiage memo down considerably “because I knew this document was going to go up the chain. But the exact comments were made to my chief” and to the chief’s superior, he said. What Tanaka said at that meeting, Roller told the jury, “contradicted everything I tried to do at Century.”

Later Roller said he was told by his aid that, some days after the memo was sent, Paul Tanaka and Lee Baca showed up at Century station and met with three leaders of the Regulators.

It was after the Tanaka/Baca visit that Roller got the transfer call. “Effective immediately,” he said again, explaining the unusual nature of that phrasing.

Roller then was made captain of ICIB, the criminal version of Internal Affairs.


THEY GRAY AREA AND THE WHISTLEBLOWER

Other witnesses provided additional pieces of “the context.”

LASD Commander Pat Maxwell told of Tanaka attending a staff meeting when Maxwell was the captain at Norwalk station, at which time the then assistant sheriff told deputies to “work the gray area,” which Maxwell said, according to his understanding meant, “to work outside policy or outside the law. “

After Maxwell, former Commander Bob Olmsted was another witness that the jury seemed to watch with rapt interest.

Olmsted told how he was asked to replace John Clark as captain at Men’s Central Jail, when the high number of force incidents and the actions of the two deputy cliques were still clearly a problem.

To get a better idea of what was going on, Olmsted said he began walking the floors of the jail regularly. “I’d walk up to the 3000 floor and be surrounded by 10 deputies who would say ‘What’re you doing on our floor?’”

At most “there should have been three deputies in the area,” he said. That meant “seven were not doing their jobs.”

Olmsted instituted a series of reforms, and was able, he said, to lower force by 30 percent, in the sixteen months he was captain of MCJ.

But in April 2008, he was promoted to commander of all three southern jails, and a hand-picked Tanaka guy named Dan Cruz took over as captain of Men’s Central.

And force spiked.

“Significant force was off the scale” under Cruz, Olmsted said.

Olmsted then told the jury that he asked an operations lieutenant to randomly pull and review 30 “force packages.” The subsequent report by Mark McCorkle, showed that 18 out of the 30 randomly pulled cases “were out of policy,” never mind that they had all been approved by supervisors. They were illegal.

Olmsted tried to work with Cruz on the problems, but Cruz ignored him. Olmsted requested another report investigating the force issue. The results were equally troubling.

Olmsted went to his chief with the problem. When that proved unsuccessful, he talked to the assistant sheriff in charge of custody who sent him to Paul Tanaka who was then also an assistant sheriff but, although he was not in the chain of command over custody, appeared to be calling the shots.

In his meeting with Tanaka, he explained the force was out of control, and brought his documents to illustrated the problem. Tanaka promised to investigate.

A week later there was a second meeting. Cruz was indeed the problem, Tanaka admitted. But, to Olmsted’s surprise, incredibly, rather than removing Dan Cruz, Tanaka explained he wanted to promote him, and wanted Olmsted to help get the problematic captain ready to be promoted, and protect him.

“I make all the decisions in on the department,” Olmsted said Tanaka confided later. “I make all the promotions in the department. And I’m going to be the sheriff for the next 15 years [after Baca], so I need my people around me.”

On cross, the defense brought out the fact that Olmsted eventually brought his concerns to Lee Baca three times, without success. Finally, Olmsted went to the FBI and eventually to the press.

“Why did you go to the FBI,” asked the defense. And the press?

“I felt it was the right thing to do.”

Well, had Olmsted ever sought monetary compensation for all this? What had he gotten out of it personally?

It was a weird question for the defense to ask and Olmsted’s gaze became steely.

Nothing, he said.


THE ACLU & SHOOTING THE MESSENGER

ACLU Legal director Peter Eliasberg was the last of the context witnesses, and the jury also seemed to listen carefully to his narrative of investigating abuse in the jails, and issuing regular reports, which the department repeatedly ignored.

They listened particularly intently when he told of the January 2011 incident when “one of my colleagues,” the ACLU’s Esther Lim, witnessed the brutal beating of an inmate by deputies. When Lim and the ACLU reported the incident to the department, they were largely rebuffed Eventually the ACLU issued a press release, hoping that “public pressure would help.”

In response, he said, sheriff’s officials “made public comments questioning” Lim’s “credibility. “

The last witness of the day was Robert Bayes, who was actually the first witness with information pertaining to the charges of obstruction.

(More on him later.)

One of the witnesses scheduled for testimony on Tuesday, is former LASD deputy Mickey Manzo, who was among the men tasked with organizing the surreptitious guarding of FBI informant Anthony Brown. Manzo is also one of the seven who have already been convicted of obstruction of justice, and whose cases are on appeal. He was reluctant to testify, so has been compelled to do so, and granted limited immunity.

And the beat goes on.

Posted in LASD, Paul Tanaka | 45 Comments »

Paul Tanaka’s Attorneys Ask Feds to Give Former Sheriff Lee Baca Immunity to Testify….& Execs Charged with Skimming $$ From Group Home for LA Foster Kids

August 17th, 2015 by Celeste Fremon


As the ongoing drama of the obstruction of Justice indictments against former members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department continues,
the newest moment-of-interest is provided by the attorneys for former undersheriff Paul Tanaka, whose trial will commence this coming November.

Where we last left off was last week, when Tanaka’s co-indictee, former LASD Captain William “Tom” Carey took a plea deal—meaning, among other things, Mr. Carey will be a witness for the prosecution at Tanaka’s trial.

Clearly the former undersheriff could use a new witness of his own.

Voila! On Friday, Tanaka’s attorney, Dean Seward, filed a motion asking the judge to step in because the federal prosecutors have declined to grant former Sheriff Lee Baca immunity so that he may testify at Tanaka’s trial without taking the fifth, which Baca’s attorneys have consistently said to anyone who asks is exactly what their client will do, absent immunity.

This is the same answer Baca and company has given to other attorneys of other federal defendants who wanted the former sheriff to testify at their trials.

When prosecutors Brandon Fox and Lizabeth Rhodes have been asked if they will make the immunity deal, they’ve evidently answered with the rough legal equivalent of “Are you freaking kidding us?! No! Of course, not!”

So Seward has turned to a higher power—namely Judge Percy Anderson—in the hope he will intervene. Anderson, who seemed to be irritated with Tanaka’s antics on the stand as a witness in the previous obstruction trials, is not likely to catch this pre-trial Hail Mary pass now that Tanaka is a defendent.

Nevertheless the argument in the text of the motion, which will be heard at the end of this month, is fascinating. Here’s a clip:

…Moreover, the prior prosecution of LASD deputy sheriffs by these same prosecutors in this same courtroom would never had occurred but for the actions of then Sheriff Leroy Baca.

But the Court and jury will never hear from Mr. Baca unless this Court intervenes. That is not because his testimony is not relevant. That is not because his testimony is not exculpatory. That is only because the government refuses to bestow the same inoculation against criminal prosecution that it has used with such vengeance to enable it to charge Mr. Tanaka.

As a result of the government’s inaction and refusal to immunize an exculpatory witness, Mr. Tanaka will be prevented from presenting a valid and relevant defense unless this Court intervenes. In order to enable the defendant to present the complete events and not rely on the incomplete version from the prosecution, this Court should grant this motion and order the government to give Leroy Baca use immunity for any testimony he may provide at trial.

The government cannot, at this late hour, argue that it has not had the opportunity to investigate the matter and determine who should be prosecuted. Logically, there’s only one person for whom prosecution is still possible: Leroy Baca. The events in this case occurred nearly 4 years ago. Multiple grand juries have been convened. The government and F.B.I. have interviewed hundreds of witnesses. Hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, exhibits, and recordings have been generated. To say the government does not have enough before it to choose whether to prosecute Mr. Baca makes no sense. The motion herein is not meant to force the government’s hand. But it is meant to force them to let Mr. Baca have his day in Court: either as a witness in Mr. Tanaka’s trial or as a co- defendant in this prosecution.

The government, by refusing to charge Mr. Baca or grant him immunity to testify in Mr. Tanaka’s trial, is exercising its immunity power not for legitimate prosecutorial purposes but to deny Mr. Tanaka a level playing field of evidence.

In other words: either indict Lee Baca or give him to us as a witness!

There is, of course, lots more after that.

The motion will be heard on September 28. So stay tuned.


AND IN OTHER NEWS….EXECUTIVES AT YET ANOTHER LA COUNTY FOSTER CARE GROUP HOME ARE CHARGED WITH EMBEZZLEMENT

Just about a year ago, LA District attorney Jackie Lacey announced that a husband and wife team was being charged with embezzling more than $460,000 in taxpayer money from a nonprofit agency hired by Los Angeles County’s Department of Children and Family services to help some of the harder to place abused and neglected foster children.

The LA Times Garrett Therolf reported extensively on the story last year and has been on top of the issue since.

Now Therolf reports that a whole different set of executives for a different group home that cares for abused and neglected LA Youth have been charged by the DA with skimming and generally misusing money from the taxpayer funded enterprise the are supposed to be overseeing.

Lovely.

Here’s a clip:

As in the district attorney’s recent case against leaders of the Little People’s World group home, the alleged wrongdoing at Moore’s Cottage may have festered for years as county officials ignored signs of financial mismanagement, records show.

“It’s my fault that we didn’t know more about it,” said Philip Browning, director of the Department of Children and Family Services.

The activities alleged in the lawsuit occurred before 2013, and Browning said they might have been prevented by an improved monitoring system the department put in place about a year ago.

Prosecutors filed the criminal charges against Batchelor and Smith in April with no public announcement. The district attorney’s office declined to comment.

The two men, who pleaded not guilty and are free on bail, declined to respond to requests for comment.

They are accused of embezzling more than $100,000 from the charity and damaging or destroying property in excess of $65,000. The lawsuit also accuses them of filing false personal tax returns in 2011, 2012 and 2013 — the same period in which they failed to file tax forms for Moore’s Cottage. In total, Moore’s Cottage owed $460,000 in delinquent federal payroll taxes as of September 2013.

A court petition for a search warrant filed this year by the district attorney’s office says that “Batchelor had no intention of paying payroll taxes with the money he withdrew. His sole purpose was to split the withdrawn money with Smith for personal gain.”

Posted in LASD, Paul Tanaka, Sheriff Lee Baca, U.S. Attorney | 33 Comments »

Project Fatherhood on Fresh Air, Paul Tanaka’s Defense Move, Bails Lowered in SF, Mass Incarceration’s Slow Death

June 26th, 2015 by Taylor Walker

JORJA LEAP AND “BIG MIKE” SHARE STORIES ABOUT PROJECT FATHERHOOD ON NPR’S FRESH AIR

Filling in for NPR’s Fresh Air host Terry Gross, Dave Davies speaks with Jorja Leap and Mike Cummings about Project Fatherhood, the program through which men from the Jordan Downs housing project (and beyond), meet every week to teach each other, and younger men in the community, how to be fathers.

“Big Mike,” as he is known, tells the story of his journey from getting straight A’s in a private school and getting letters from universities to play football, to drug-dealing and incarceration, and finally to activism and Project Fatherhood.

Leap’s book, Project Fatherhood: A Story of Courage and Healing in One of America’s Toughest Communities (which we wrote about here), came out earlier this month, and she talks about how the program originally got fathers to attend the meetings, about disciplining children and child abuse, and some of the challenges these dads face as they try to improve their lives and their children’s lives.

Here are some highlights from Fresh Air‘s write-up of the interview:

DAVIES: So let’s talk about how this worked. There was an incentive to get people to come to these fatherhood sessions regularly. Who wants to explain how that developed?

CUMMINGS: Well, the incentive is for the fathers to come – actually, it’s a $25 gift card. But the incentive is given to the fathers for them to actually take their son out to either McDonald’s, Burger King or Subway or even to the ice cream parlor so the father would have some change in his pocket to be able to go out and spend the day, you know, at the ice cream parlor or get a hamburger or something and spend time with the kids. So that’s what the incentive was actually meant to be when we first started.

DAVIES: And if I read this right, you had to attend four sessions to get the card, the $25 gift card, right?

CUMMINGS: Yes.

DAVIES: So you wanted some consistency to it.

CUMMINGS: We wanted some consistency to it. They had to attend four of the Project Fatherhoods there to actually receive the card. What we wanted to do is to make sure that they could be consistent, to come if they wanted to use that change there to go out and be able to entertain their kid. It’s not much, but it’s something that they can do to be one-on-one with the kid.

LEAP: And I would add that initially those gift cards were the focus of a lot of interest and attention. But as the group became more and more important, the gift cards almost became incidental. They were part of the program but they – the focus of the men truly shifted.

DAVIES: Now, as you describe it in the book, you addressed some pretty sensitive topics about these men’s lives. One of them, for example, is when and whether it is acceptable to hit their kids. Jorja, you want to tell us some of what you heard from the men.

LEAP: Mike and I are looking at each other and nodding our heads and smiling because that was one of the sessions where I just got hung out to dry. And it was quite a discussion because all of the men began by saying, you know, my mama whooped me and I turned out OK. And there was sort of a moment where I said really because most of them had been incarcerated. Most of them had been involved in criminal activity at some time. And then there was this tremendous breakthrough when one of the men in the group talked about witnessing another child being beaten. And the child was beaten so brutally that he eventually died. And you literally could hear the sound of change happening in the room. And I don’t want to make it sound like it occurred literally overnight because we did a lot of arguing about this issue, but the men slowly changed. And one of them who was the most dug in about it, named Donald James, later came back and talked about not hitting his nephew who he took care of who he really did want to hit.

DAVIES: And, Jorja Leap, you know, you had this background in social science and this point of view about what’s healthy behavior based on research and data. And I’m interested in how you brought that to bear in the conversation. I mean, you know, you can sort of sense – one, you could imagine that here you are, this person with a lot of degrees, telling people in the neighborhood what’s right and they’re coming at you from their own experience.

LEAP: Well, and add on to that that I am mandated to report any instance of child abuse that I hear about; I’m a mandated reporter. So the men in the room also knew that legally I could get them into a lot of trouble, and they were very skittish about talking openly about this. What got to them was not saying it’s bad to hit your children. What got to them was when I talked to them about the statistics that overwhelmingly over 90 percent of the people on death row in the United States of America were victims of child abuse. And these are men that do not want their children to go to prison. They do not want their children to be part of the, you know, the cradle to prison pipeline. And when I said this kind of abuse teaches violence and it’s part of that cradle-to-prison pipeline, because of their love and concern for their children and their children’s futures, that’s how they began to hear the message. It’s not the message of discipline. You know, hitting your child is bad. The message was this is where it might lead.

Be sure to listen to the rest.


FOLLOW THE LEADER: PAUL TANAKA’S “PUBLIC AUTHORITY DEFENSE”

Former LA County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, indicted on obstruction of justice and other charges, has filed a motion saying he will use a “public authority defense.” Tanaka will assert that he was just following then-Sheriff Lee Baca’s orders to hide an FBI informant inmate from the feds.

Prosecutors have dismissed Tanaka’s move and asked the judge to block the public authority defense, arguing that no law enforcement agent or organization (aside from the feds) can authorize violations of federal law.

LASD-watchers wonder if this move is simply pro forma on the part of Tanaka and his attorneys, or if they believe it might be a workable defense, and if so, whether it will point a legal spotlight on Baca.

KPCC’s Frank Stoltze has more on the issue. Here’s a clip:

“The defendant acted on behalf of order(s) issued by Sheriff Leroy Baca, who was Mr. Tanaka’s ranking superior officer,” the motion states. “Tanaka will assert the defense of actual or believed exercise of public authority.”

[SNIP]

Federal prosecutors are asking the judge to prohibit Tanaka from using a public authority defense.

The argument “fails as a matter of law because no agent of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, not even then-Sheriff Leroy Baca, may authorize an individual to commit a federal crime,” states a motion signed by Stephanie Yonekura, who is the acting United States Attorney in Los Angeles.

“Only a federal agent may authorize a violation of federal law,” the motion states.


SF JUDGES’ DECISION TO LOWER BAIL AMOUNTS TRIGGERS INTENSE DEBATE IN LEGAL CIRCLE

On Wednesday, San Francisco Superior Court judges lowered the county’s bail amounts after finding them to be significantly higher than those in surrounding counties, including Los Angeles.

SF Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who supports the judges’ decision, says it doesn’t make sense to have bails two or three times larger than in other counties.

Critics, however, say lowering bails will mean more pedophiles and violent offenders will be able to post bail, which will lead to higher crime rates. Further, critics, argue that there is no need to change the bail schedule if judges have discretion over bail amounts anyway. For example, judges also have the ability to declare a high-risk rapist a “no-bail” candidate.

As the judges reexamine the bail schedule every year, they will look closely at how (and whether) the crime rates change over the next year.

In WLA’s most recent bail-related post, we pointed to an excellent John Oliver segment on the horrors of the bail system, which disproportionately affects the poor.

The SF Chronicle’s CW Nevius has more on the complex issue. Here’s a clip:

Kevin Ryan, who was the Superior Court’s presiding judge in 1999, says the higher bails were a result of a controversy in the late ’90s, when San Francisco had the lowest bail amounts in the Bay Area. At the time it was suggested that drug dealers, for example, were more likely to sell in San Francisco because it was easier to make bail.

[SNIP]

“It was apparent that the bail schedule here was substantially lower,” Ryan said. “We were experiencing a lot of commuter crime. Say bail (for some felonies) was $15,000 in Alameda and $5,000 here. It was apparent to the judges and law enforcement that we were, in a sense, encouraging people to come to San Francisco and commit crimes.”

With that in mind, and after some contentious city hearings, bail amounts were raised. (It should be noted, however, that higher bails haven’t stopped “commuter crime.” Drug dealers still come to the city from other counties.)

Now there is an effort to bring at least some bail amounts into compliance with nearby counties. Public Defender Jeff Adachi is actively supporting the changes.

“We’ve been complaining for years that the bails are sky-high in San Francisco compared to other counties,” Adachi said. “It’s one reason why the bail laws need to be reformed. It makes no sense that in San Francisco we’ve got bails that are double and triple bails in other counties.”


REASONS FOR STALLED INCARCERATION REDUCTION IN THE US

Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson takes a look at reasons why, despite considerable bipartisan efforts, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of mass incarceration reduction happening on the national (and even state) level. Here’s how it opens:

In this era of hyperpartisanship, the liberal-libertarian convergence on criminal-justice reform is, frankly, astonishing. Everyone from the Koch brothers to George Soros, from Tea Party Texan Sen. Ted Cruz to Democrat Hillary Clinton are singing from the same hymnal: “Today, far too many young men — and in particular African-American young men . . . find themselves subject to sentences of many decades for relatively minor, nonviolent drug infractions,” Cruz told reporters in February, before implausibly invoking French literature. “We should not live in a world of Les Misérables, where a young man finds his entire future taken away by excessive mandatory minimums.” In one of her first major policy speeches of the 2016 campaign, Clinton decried “inequities” in our system that undermine American ideals of justice and declared, “It is time to end the era of mass incarceration.”

But as unusual as the setup is, the punchline, in Washington, remains the same. Outside of limited executive actions by the Obama administration, durable reform is stymied. Entrenched interests from prosecutors to private prisons remain a roadblock to change. Meaningful bills are tied up by law-and-order ideologues like Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, the 81-year-old who brands his adversaries as belonging to “the leniency industrial complex.”

Progress in the states, meanwhile, is modest at best. “Nobody’s trying to hit home runs,” admits Grover Norquist, the GOP’s anti-tax czar and a leading conservative advocate for reform. “This is all about singles and not yet any doubles.”

Posted in families, Gangs, LASD, Paul Tanaka, Public Defender, Sheriff Lee Baca, War on Drugs | 6 Comments »

Solitary and Life on the Outside, Reauthorizing the JJDPA, Trial Date Set for Tanaka/Carey Case, More Reactions to LA Police Commission’s Ezell Ford Decision, and Tamir Rice

June 12th, 2015 by Taylor Walker

STATES RELEASE INMATES FROM SOLITARY CONFINEMENT BACK INTO THEIR COMMUNITIES, WHERE THEY STRUGGLE TO ACCLIMATE, AND OFTEN RETURN TO LOCK-UP

A new collaborative investigation released Thursday between the Marshal Project and NPR gathered and analyzed data from every state on inmates released from solitary confinement directly onto the streets.

Last year, 24 states dumped over 10,000 solitary confinement prisoners, who often need the most reentry assistant, right back into their communities. The other 26 states, along with the feds, either did not track or could not provide data on such releases.

The investigation has particular significance in the wake of Kalief Browder’s suicide. Browder spent three years on Rikers Island, the majority of which he spent in solitary confinement, without a trial. Browder came out of Rikers and isolation and struggled for three years with mental illness and the aftereffects of prolonged solitary confinement. Browder tried to kill himself several times before succeeding last Saturday.

These inmates who often need the most help, pre-release and post-release, get the least amount of help. For instance, inmates that remain in isolation until they are released, generally do not get to participate in re-entry classes. And in some states, including Texas, these inmates are often released without supervision. Due, in part to the mental deterioration that happens during prolonged isolation, and without much-needed help, inmates released directly from solitary often find themselves jobless, homeless, in mental hospitals, or back in prison.

The Marshall Project follows the story of Mark, young man with schizoaffective disorder and developmental disabilities who spent the majority of his teenage years in isolation, and lasted just four months on the outside, before he was locked up again. Here’s a clip:

In Mark’s home state of Texas, 1,174 prisoners were freed straight out of administrative segregation — prison jargon for solitary units housing suspected gang members or others deemed a threat to prison security — in fiscal year 2014. More than 60 percent of them emerged without any supervision, compared to only 14 percent of other prisoners released that year.

Prisoners who go straight to the street pose a danger to public safety. Analysts for the Texas Legislative Budget Board found that more than 60 percent of state prisoners released from solitary were rearrested within three years, compared with 49 percent of overall prison releases. Similar studies in Washington and California found people coming out of segregation cells had recidivism rates as much as 35 percent higher than those leaving the general population.

[SNIP]

Dealing with the other kids at one of the juvenile facilities, Crockett State School, seemed to overwhelm him. He often retreated to his cell to pace, talk to himself, and cut his arms. His behavior was not new. In the year before his sentencing, Mark made nine trips to state mental hospitals in Austin and San Antonio for cutting and other psychotic episodes. Mark also picked up a new conviction for assaulting a guard, for which he was given three years to be served concurrently. After evaluating him three months before his 18th birthday, psychologists at Crockett concluded: “It is recommended that he be provided therapy….[and] would benefit from a program to learn independent/daily life skills.”

Instead, Mark was soon moved to a maximum-security adult prison, the Telford Unit in New Boston, Texas. And within six months, he landed in a segregation cell for allegedly threatening to escape.

Mark had told his mother that he was nervous around the older prisoners, particularly his cellmate. He had stopped taking his Seroquil and Abilify for schizophrenia, because he said they made him groggy and unable to stay alert and on guard. The other prisoners referred to him as “Crazy Boy.”

Mark was initially relieved when he was moved to solitary, thinking he would be safer. But as his mother observed, solitary was no place for people who “live in their mind.” Mark’s learning disabilities made it difficult for him to fill the time reading books or writing letters. So he paced his cell and listened to the radio. Without any other distractions, his anger and depression worsened. “You have nobody to talk to but yourself,” Mark said. “All I remember doing was just thinking about the people who hurt me.”

During their monthly, no-contact visits, Garcia saw Mark’s behavior change. He began swearing at her, flipping her off, and telling her not to come. “He wasn’t like that when he went in,” she said. She tried to pacify him by recalling happier times — their yearly trips to Disney World, the birthday parties she threw for him. But Mark could not remember any of it.

NPR focuses on Brian Nelson, a man who had similar experiences to Mark, but has managed—sometimes just barely—to rebuild his life on the outside. Nelson is now a paralegal and prisoner’s advocate at the Uptown People’s Law Center in Chicago. Here’s a clip:

When Nelson’s mother picked him up at the distant supermax prison in Tamms, Ill., he told her how he was given a television during his last year of solitary and kept seeing ads for a fast-food ice cream…

On the drive home, they stopped for a Blizzard at a Dairy Queen.

“And I’m standing there and a guy walked behind me. And I was not used to people being that close to me. And I started cussing. I turned around, I’m ready to fight because I thought I don’t know if he’s going to attack me,” Nelson recalls. “I have prison mentality in my mind. And then I looked up and saw my mom crying, like ‘Oh my God, what have they done to him?’ You know, because I couldn’t handle being around people.”

That was five years ago. It’s still hard for Nelson, 50, to be around people.

[SNIP]

The Department of Justice estimates that about 80,000 prisoners in the U.S. are in solitary confinement. The system drastically expanded in the past 30 years as the U.S. prison population grew. Corrections officials built supermax prisons and added other new programs to isolate the inmates who were considered the most dangerous.

“The United States is unique and this is a relatively new experiment,” says Alan Mills, who is Nelson’s boss at the Uptown People’s Law Center. “And now we’re dealing with people who have spent a decade in solitary and are getting out. Mental health professionals don’t know how to deal with it. And don’t have treatment for it yet. It’s a brand new world and unfortunately it’s one that we as a society have created for ourselves.”

Mills says, at the least, prisons need to take inmates out of solitary months before they leave prison and give them mental health treatment, job training and other help to get them ready to go back home.

A few states, and the federal prison system, have started doing that.

Unlike most prisoners who are given parole when they are released, inmates in solitary are less likely to get supervision. That’s because they “max out” their sentence and fall outside the parole system.

Be sure to listen to part two, which airs on Friday (today) on Morning Edition.


NEW US BILL TO UPDATE AND REAUTHORIZE JUVENILE JUSTICE DELINQUENCY AND PREVENTION ACT

On Thursday, US Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) introduced a bill that would revamp and reauthorize the aging Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act. The JJDPA was first enacted in 1974 (and hasn’t been successfully reauthorized since 2002).

The JJDPA gives states funding (into the millions) for compliance with these four requirements: do not detain kids for status offenses, work to reduce disparate minority contact with the justice system, keep kids out of adult facilities (with a few exceptions), and when kids do have to be kept in adult prisons, keep them “sight and sound” separated from adults.

Scott’s new bill, the Youth Justice Act of 2015, is modeled after Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)’s bipartisan reauthorization bill introduced late last year.

The Youth Justice Act would strengthen the JJDPA’s objectives and add some new functions, including removing those exceptions to keeping kids away from adults in detention facilities, as well as the exceptions that allow kids who have committed certain status offenses to be isolated for up to 24 hours.

Education Week’s Lauren Camera has more on the issue. Here’s a clip:

In addition, the bill would phase out various confinement practices that some consider dangerous, such as isolation that lasts longer than a few hours.

The measure would also create a new grant program for communities to plan and implement evidence-based prevention and intervention programs specifically designed to reduce juvenile delinquency and gang involvement.

“We have documented the power evidence-based policies have in both reducing crime and saving money, and we have realized the role that trauma plays in the lives of our disengaged youth and what it takes to get them back on the right track,” said Scott. “The Youth Justice Act builds on the strong framework of our colleagues in the Senate, and takes suggestions from our nation’s leading juvenile justice advocates on how we can make our system even safer and more responsive to our youth.”


US DISTRICT JUDGE SETS DATE FOR TANAKA – CAREY TRIAL

U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson has set the date for November in the federal trial of former LA County Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and ex-captain Tom Carey. Defense attorneys originally agreed on January.

The federal prosecutors are scheduled to try several other use-of-force cases in advance of the two former LASD leaders. The Tanaka/Carey trial is expected to take around two weeks.

Baldwin Park Patch’s Mirna Alfonso has the story. Here’s a clip:

The case was initially set for trial next month, but Anderson ordered attorneys for both sides to meet and agree on a later date. Federal prosecutors in the Tanaka/Carey case are scheduled in the coming months to try three separate use-of-force cases involving current or former sheriff’s deputies, along with the trial of a deputy U.S. marshal facing civil rights homicide and obstruction of justice charges.

The Tanaka/Carey case is expected to take at least two weeks, lawyers said.

Evidence to be delivered to the defense includes a Web-searchable database and 4,000 pages of transcripts from a previous related trial, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret Carter.

Tanaka — who is on a leave of absence as mayor of Gardena — and Carey, who oversaw an internal sheriff’s criminal investigations unit, have denied the charges contained in a five-count indictment returned May 13 by a federal grand jury.


LAPD CHIEF RECORDS VIDEO THAT COMMISSION FINDS UPSETTING AFTER THEIR DECISION REGARDING THE DEATH OF EZELL FORD

On Wednesday, after the LA Police Commission’s decision that actions taken during the incident that led to the death of Ezell Ford were unjustified, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck recorded a video message to express his support for the rank and file…

The video riled the LA Police Commission because in it, Chief Beck tells officers that they have the support of their chief, Mayor Eric Garcetti, and “the vast majority of the people of Los Angeles.” The Police Commission was not included in the list of supporters. The LA Times interviewed the president of the commission, Steve Soboroff, and Chief Beck about the video. Here’s a small clip:

Soboroff bristled at any suggestion that the commission didn’t support officers. “To intimate that I don’t care or don’t have the best interests of officers — it’s hurtful but it’s so untrue,” Soboroff said. “It’s so outrageous and so against anything that I feel or that I’ve ever displayed.”

Beck told Soboroff that it was not his intention to suggest that commissioners didn’t back the officers.

“It was not intended to infer lack of support by the Police Commission,” Beck later told The Times. “I have viewed it [the video] several times and I don’t believe it is reasonable to come to that conclusion based on the content.”

The LA Police Protective League (LAPPL) issued a statement Thursday in support of Chief Beck, calling the commission’s decision “self-serving” and “irresponsible.” Here’s a clip:

Surprisingly, the Police Commission, who was privy to the same facts as Chief Beck, came away with a different conclusion. It unanimously reached a finding that left many, including the LAPPL, scratching their heads and wondering how the Commission could let the usual protesters and external political forces influence their decision on this extremely important matter. Beyond being self-serving, the decision was downright irresponsible and has the potential to put the officers that protect this city at risk by signaling to criminals that it is OK to reach for an officer’s weapon depending on the situation.

The Commission got this wrong. Instead of focusing on the multiple forms of hard evidence, including the fact that Ford was a known gang member with a lengthy criminal history of violent crimes, the Commission cited and stretched thin the “objectively reasonable” standard established in the 1989 U.S. Supreme Court case of Graham v. Connor. A standard that the court later noted should not be the primary driver determination, noting that “reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.”

LAPPL President Craig Lally also spoke to the Times about the video, saying that if Chief Beck had included the commission in the list of supporters, it would have discredited the entire video. “You can’t say that you support the cops and make a decision like that,” said Lally.

We will continue to track this story, which is clearly far from over.


JUDGE RECOMMENDS CHARGING CLEVELAND OFFICERS IN THE DEATH OF 12-YEAR-OLD TAMIR RICE

On Thursday, nearly 200 days after the fatal shooting of 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine ruled that there was probable cause to prosecute the two officers involved in the 12-year-old’s death. (If you need a refresher: Tamir Rice was playing with a toy gun outside of a recreation center with his sister when he was shot by Officer Timothy Loehmann.)

A group of activists and clergy filed affidavits asking the court to arrest Loehmann and another officer, Frank Garmback. The ruling is essentially a recommendation to Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty and city prosecutors, as the case will automatically go before a grand jury, according to Ohio law. Judge Adrine recommended charging Loehmann with murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty, and Garmback of negligent homicide and dereliction of duty.

McGinty says he is investigating the shooting.

The Atlantic’s David Graham has the story. Here’s a clip:

In response to a petition from citizens, under an obscure and little-used provision of Ohio law, Municipal Court Judge Ronald Adrine agreed that Officer Timothy Loehmann should be charged with several crimes, the most serious of them being murder but also including involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. Adrine also found probable cause to charge another officer, Frank Garmback, with negligent homicide and dereliction of duty. He rejected aggravated murder charges against both officers. (The Guardian has the full order here.) Referring to the “notorious” video of Rice’s death, the judge wrote, “This court is still thunderstruck at how quickly this event turned deadly.”

But Adrine did not order the two men to be arrested. He stated that because the law under which the affidavits were filed had been amended in 2006, judges no longer have the authority to issue warrants themselves in such cases.

Instead, Adrine forwarded his opinion to city prosecutors and Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Timothy McGinty, who says he is currently investigating the case. And he took pains to note that prosecutors are required to apply a different standard before filing charges, determining that it is more probable than not that a reasonable “trier of fact” would hold the officers accountable for any alleged crimes.

The affidavit filed Monday was intended to jumpstart the process of prosecution; it’s been more than 200 days since Rice, a 12-year-old black boy, was shot and killed in a city park. Adrine’s finding of probable cause may increase pressure on McGinty. But since all murder prosecutions have to go through a grand jury under Ohio law, Adrine’s order just funnels the case back to where it was before—waiting for McGinty to act.

It’s been 199 days since Tamir Rice was shot to death by a Cleveland police officer. And for a group of community leaders in the Forest City, that’s too long to wait for prosecutors to charge the officers involved in the shooting. Instead, they went to a municipal court judge Tuesday morning and asked him to issue a warrant for the officers on charges of murder, aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, negligent homicide, and dereliction of duty.

If that sounds confusing, it’s not just you. The activists made the request under an obscure provision of Ohio law that entitles citizens to file an affidavit demanding an arrest.

Posted in Charlie Beck, Eric Garcetti, juvenile justice, LAPD, LASD, Paul Tanaka, prison policy, Reentry, solitary | 13 Comments »

WitnessLA Story Wins New Award for Reporting on Baca, Tanaka & the LASD

June 3rd, 2015 by Celeste Fremon


The City and Regional Magazine Association, sponsored by the Missouri School of Journalism, gave out its journalism awards on Monday night.
We learned in real time that a story I’d written had won first place in the reporting category, because people at the CRMA awards dinner in Texas were tweeting the names of the winners as they were announced. Mary Melton, Editor of LA mag, was one of the happy tweeters.

The winning story ran in Los Angeles Magazine in March 2014, but much of it was based on reporting originally done for WitnessLA when we were covering the Los Angeles Shreriff’s Department the most intensely. The material was compressed and rewritten into the longread story you can read here at Los Angeles Magazine. It is called Downfall

Posted in LASD, Paul Tanaka, Sheriff Lee Baca, writers and writing | 21 Comments »

WitnessLA on KPFK’s Deadline LA Talking About the LA County Sheriff’s Department, Subpoena Power & Indicting Paul Tanaka…(& Also on KCRW’s Press Play)

May 26th, 2015 by Celeste Fremon



WITNESSLA ON DEADLINE LA WITH BARBARA OSBORN AND HOWARD BLUME TALKING ABOUT LASD INDICTMENTS AND MORE

On Memorial Day I was on KPFK’s Deadline LA with hosts, Barbara Osborn and Howard Blume, discussing issues concerning the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, including the significance of the recent indictments of former undersheriff Paul Tanaka and former LASD captain Tom Carey. We also talked about the proposed civilian oversight commission for the LASD and whether or not that commission should have subpoena power.

Last, we touched on the recent report showing crime in California has gone down not up since realignment began in October 2011.

Here’s a link to the podcast. (Scroll down through the archives until you see DEADLINE LA and you’ll find it.)


AND…EARLIER WITNESSLA WAS ON KCRW’S PRESS PLAY WITH MADELEINE BRAND TALKING ABOUT WHY PAUL TANAKA WAS INDICTED AND WHETHER WE’LL SEE A FUTURE INDICTMENT FOR LEE BACA

On the day that the indictments were unsealed charging Tanaka and Carey with obstruction of justice, I was on KCRW’s Press Play, where I discussed with host Madeleine Brand the significance of the indictment, and whether or not these new charges meant that there was a possibility that former sheriff Lee Baca—who, for a host of reasons, has been believed by many to be essentially unindictable—might now be in the U.S. Attorney’s sights for future charges.

We thought you might enjoy listening to the conversation.

Here’s the link.

Posted in Bill Bratton, FBI, Jim McDonnell, LASD, Paul Tanaka, Sheriff Lee Baca, U.S. Attorney | 8 Comments »

Updates & Early Legal Challenges in the Tanaka/Carey Indictment Drama….A Call for “Smart Justice” for LA County….a New Brand of Advice for Next Generation Cops…the Death of Officer Kerrie Orozco

May 26th, 2015 by Celeste Fremon

FIRST STEPS TOWARD TRIAL FOR TANAKA AND CAREY

On Friday, May 29, the first “status hearing” is scheduled in the obstruction of justice trial of Paul Tanaka, the former undersheriff of the LA County Sheriff’s department, and Tom Carey, the former head of the department’s internal criminal investigative bureau (ICIB).

Judge Percy Anderson will be presiding. Originally the trial was assigned to Judge S.James Otero but, as many involved had predicted, Anderson managed to snatch the high profile case from Otero and move it into his courtroom. Percy Anderson, for those who don’t remember, was the judge on both of James Sexton’s trials and that of the other six former LASD members convicted of obstruction of justice.

Tanaka’s legal team was not thrilled with the judicial switch, likely because some on the defense teams from the last trials thought Anderson had pro prosecution leanings. As a consequence, the Tanaka team filed a motion “to Return Case to Randomly Assigned District Judge Based Upon Improper Transfer.”

Anderson, however, denied the motion with vigor mere hours after it was filed.The issues raised in Tanaka’s Motion are so devoid of merit that no further briefing is required,” he wrote.

And that was that.

(Anderson is not a mincer of words.)

One of the other issues that was to have been heard on Friday was a request for a “judicial inquiry” regarding possible conflicts of interest due to the fact that Carey was being represented by Thomas O’Brian and other members of the Paul Hastings law firm.

it’s easy to see why Carey chose O’Brien. He held the post of U.S. Attorney just before Andre Birotte, which means he knows the workings of that office inside and out. (Andre Birotte is the U.S. Attorney who presided over most of the investigations and charges that are now playing out. Birotte has since gone on to a federal judgeship, and was replaced by Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura, the woman who unveiled Tanaka and Carey’s charges.) The potential conflict that the government has flagged is the fact that O’Brien represented LASD deputy James Sexton, one of the seven who was previously convicted of charges similar to those recently slapped on Tanaka and Carey. Moreover the attorney is still representing Sexton for his appeal to the 9th Circuit. The prosecution also noted, in their lengthy request, that some of Carey’s perjury charges had to do with questions he was asked by O’Brien when Carey was the witness stand for the defense during one or both of Sexton’s two trials.

The prosecutors made a strong argument in their request for an inquiry, with plenty of case law cited. Not too long after the prosecution filed its request, O’Brien and company withdrew as counsel for Carey.

A trial date is expected to be set at the hearing on Friday.

In the meantime, in an email that went out to the members of the Professional Peace Officers Association (PPOA), the union’s leadership urged department members who wished to support Carey to give to his family via a special website that had been set up by PPOA. There LASD members can also give to the families of any of the other six as well, thus getting around the prohibition, according to department rules, against any kind of contact with the six now that they had been convicted of felonies.

The message on the donations site reads in part:

SUPPORT FAMILIES OF THOSE CONVICTED FOR FOLLOWING ORDERS

Earlier this year, the Feds convicted 7 employees of the LASD for following the orders of their bosses. Regardless of their guilt or innocence, they and their families are facing difficult times financially. Many are struggling to make their mortgage payments and to put food on the table to feed their children.

“One thing we do well in law enforcement is support each other in times of need.” said PPOA President Brian Moriguchi. “We realize just how difficult a job we do and the risks we face. Few can truly understand that. That is why we are like family and look out for one another. The families of these convicted employees are paying the price for what was really a pissing match between two law enforcement agencies.”

Paul Tanaka’s name, however, is notably absent from the donations site, presumably because he was allegedly one of the “bosses,” whose orders the others were following.


A CALL FOR “SMART JUSTICE”

While some of California’s other counties have embraced the challenge and opportunity of realignment to create programs and strategies that both help and monitor inmates when they finish their incarceration terms and begin to attempt integrate back into their individual communities, LA County has lagged behind.

On Sunday, the LA Times editorial board urged LA County to dispense with its lagging and to start practicing “smart justice.”

Here’s a clip from the story::

Counties are working to find the best ways to provide housing, healthcare and employment, to serve not only nonviolent offenders but their victims, their families and their neighborhoods. There have been many successes and many lessons to learn.

If only Los Angeles County would learn them. The state’s (by far) largest county ought to be a leader in smart and effective justice, but as other counties have spent their state realignment dollars on programs intended to reduce recidivism, L.A. County has only dabbled in such initiatives and instead spends most of its realignment money on old-school law enforcement, monitoring and punishment.


“BE GUARDIANS NOT WARRIORS” SAYS HEAD OF JOHN JAY’S POLICE STUDIES PROGRAM TO HIS WOULD-BE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS

NPR’S Robert Siegel visited John Jay College of Criminal Justice on the west side of Manhattan, and observed veteran police officer Professor John DeCarlo, who coordinates the highly respected police studies program at John Jay, as DeCarlo encouraged his next-generation law enforcement students to become “guardians” more than “warriors.”

Here’s a clip from the transcript:

SIEGEL: John DeCarlo spent 34 years as a police officer and later a police chief in Connecticut. Then he got his PhD and made the switch to teaching at John Jay. In light of this year’s stories about policing, I asked him if he talks with his students about how they as future law enforcement officers should manage their encounters with civilians, including the fear that they might feel at such moments.

DECARLO: We have not only talked about the fear that one feels at that point and the reaction that an officer might have, but we also talked about how certain people will be predisposed to different reactions, and it is incumbent upon police leaders to really increase the efficacy of police selection processes so that we do not put people on the job who would be bullies.

SIEGEL: And do you feel those people can be identified before they become police officers or early on in their police careers? How do you do that?

DECARLO: I do. You know, right now, when police officers come on, you know, we send them to an academy that is very militaristic. We are looking, very often, for big people. Women are underrepresented wildly, and we know that women are much better at talking their way out of bad situations than big guys. Right now we give cops a test called the MMPI-2, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory. So we pretty much determine that they’re not psychopaths. I think that’s a low bar.

SIEGEL: In his senior seminar, DeCarlo comes off as a born teacher.

DECARLO: Good morning. We are going to talk a little bit about – Tyric (ph), how are you? – where police have gone and where we want them to go.

SIEGEL: He is dynamic, commanding attention, knowing his students, working the seminar room rather than standing at the front. The seminar draws on ideas from, among other sources, Plato’s “Republic,” in which the police are the guardians and the principles of Sir Robert Peel, the founder of London’s police and namesake of London’s of bobbies, and President Obama’s 21st-Century Task Force on Policing. John DeCarlo is a strong supporter of community policing. He leads his students through a Socratic dialogue inspired by an article about the shift in our view of police from guardians to warriors….


THE HEARTBREAKING DEATH OF OMAHA POLICE OFFICER KERRIE OROZCO

It is always heartbreak-producing when a law enforcement officer is killed. But the fatal shooting of 29-year-old Omaha officer Kerrie Orozco in an exchange of gunfire with a fugitive is elliciting an unusual amount of grief in the city she was devoted to protecting and serving.

Here’s a clip from a very personal Fox News story about Orozco and the response to her death.

As the family of Kerrie Orozco grieved for the 29-year-old, seven-year veteran following her death Wednesday in a shootout with a fugitive, the city’s flags flew at half-staff, the police department rallied behing the simple phrase “Kerrie On,” and donations poured in for Olivia Ruth, the baby Orozco had just given birth to prematurely. Orozco was working her last shift before going on maternity leave to be with her baby when a criminal’s bullet struck her just above the bulletproof vest that might have saved her life.

“She was so excited to be a mother,” her aunt Laurie McNeil told FoxNews.com Friday.

Olivia was born premature Feb. 17. Orozco was set to bring her home from the hospital Thursday and go on maternity leave. Wednesday’s tragic events changed all that.

“She had the bassinet all set up by the side of the bed,” McNeil said. “She just wanted to be ready.”

Orozco was part of a fugitive task force searching for convicted felon Marcus Wheeler. He was being sought for an earlier Omaha shooting. As they closed in on the suspect Wednesday afternoon, Wheeler, 26, opened fire.

Police said one of his bullets struck Orozco in the chest and exited her back. An inch lower and it would have struck her in her bullet-proof vest.

McNeil told FoxNews.com she had a bad feeling when she looked at her phone Wednesday and saw a breaking news flash reporting an Omaha police officer had been shot.

“I immediately turned on the Internet and started watching,” the aunt said, choking back tears. “I was hoping to see her walk across the screen.”

As her deepest fears grew, McNeil sent Orozco a text asking, “Are you Ok?” She tried calling. She didn’t get an answer.

Read the rest. It’s worth it.

Posted in FBI, LA County Board of Supervisors, LA County Jail, LASD, law enforcement, Los Angeles County, Paul Tanaka, Realignment, Reentry, U.S. Attorney | 55 Comments »

OPERATION PANDORA’S BOX FINALLY GOES UP THE LADDER: The Day That Paul Tanaka and Tom Carey of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Were Federally Indicted

May 16th, 2015 by Celeste Fremon


“The allegations in the indictment include cover-ups, diversionary tactics, retribution and a culture generally reserved for Hollywood scripts.”

- David Bowdich, Assistant Director in Charge, LA offices of the FBI



THE ARRAIGNMENT

On Thursday, May 14, the day it actually happened, the mood among even the observers was of an almost theatrical unreality.

For weeks sources had dropped hints that former Los Angeles County undersheriff Paul Tanaka and, with him, former LASD captain William “Tom” Carey, were going to be federally indicted for obstruction of justice—and soon. But who knew? Eight months ago several sources close to the U.S. Attorney’s office said that a Tanaka indictment simply was not going to happen.

Carey, maybe, but not the former undersheriff. He was too wily, too untouchable.

Yet seven lower-ranking members of the department had been charged, convicted and handed prison terms for charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Specifically, according to government prosecutors, the seven deliberately got in the way of an FBI investigation into brutality and corruption in the LA County jail system. They reportedly did so by hiding a jail inmate turned confidential informant from his FBI handlers, falsely threatening an FBI agent with arrest, and trying to persuade potential witnesses to wrongdoing in the jails not to cooperate with the feds. These actions and others, which came to be known unofficially as Operation Pandora’s Box, were ordered, according to all credible accounts, by Tanaka, and to a much lesser degree, Carey. So were the feds really going to let the underlings take the whole big, bad hit, while the shot-calling guys at the top walked away unscathed?

As it turns out, the answer to that question is: no.

Both Paul Tanaka and Tom Carey learned for certain late Wednesday afternoon through their attorneys that a grand jury had indeed handed down indictments . In reality, however, both the indictees and the lawyers had all but known for weeks. And then there were subtle hints that went out to both the Carey and Tanaka camps that planning a vacation in May would likely be….unwise.

Paul Tanaka is, of course, the former number two of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department and, at one time, the man who most insiders believed was all but guaranteed the top job after then-sheriff Lee Baca stepped down. But that was before a string of departmental scandals became public, before Baca “finessed” (his word) his once blindly trusted second in command into early retirement, before Tanaka hit back with verbal stiletto strikes delivered via the press, and before Baca resigned under still ambiguous circumstances on January 7, 2014.

Prior all that, Tanaka was Baca’s anointed successor, the crown prince, the guy whom nearly everyone in and around the department—everyone save Baca himself—believed truly ran the show. It was Tanaka who reportedly micro-managed nearly all important promotions, civil service rules be damned. He was also the person who could and would tank your career if you crossed him. He had to put his “people.” in place, Tanaka once confided in former LASD Commander Robert Olmsted. Because, he said, after Baca, he was going to be sheriff for the next 16 years.

Plus he’s the three term mayor of the city of Gardena.

Instead, at around 6:30 am on Thursday, Tanaka self-surrendered to federal agents at the FBI head quarters building in Westwood. Tom Carey too self-surrendered at around the same hour. Later that day, both men were led, in handcuffs, to holding cells inside the Edward Roybal federal building. Then at approximately 3:05 p.m. Tanaka was arraigned on 5 counts of obstruction of justice. Carey was arraigned right afterward. Tanaka wore a baby blue shirt, no tie, and sport coat, for the arraignment. Carey wore a bright white, long-sleeved Oxford shirt that looked very J. Crew-ish, no jacket. Neither were handcuffed anymore.

Both men were granted bail. Tanaka’s bail was set at $50,000, to be secured by a condo in Diamond Bar that is in his wife’s name. Carey’s bail was $100,000 but it was unsecured by either property or other assets. During the bond discussion, Judge Victor B. Kenton, the jurist presiding over the arraignment, wondered to Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox why Tanaka needed to be a bond at all—before acceding to the government’s wishes with some reluctance. (Since we’ve seen people charged with a couple of hand-to-hand sales of dime bags of meth slammed with a $100,000 in bail, no kidding, we wondered about his honor’s thinking, but that’s a conversation for another day.)

As is customary, both men were required to surrender their passports and firearms. (Carey didn’t have a passport, and Tanaka’s was out of date.) There was a small kerfuffle over the fact that Tanaka’s wife is an LASD detective thus legitimately needs her gun. Carey’s son, who lives in his father’s household, is also a sworn member of the sheriff’s department, so needs his gun as well. With a bit of back and forth, everyone settled on the notion of acquiring new lock boxes forthwith for the weapons of the spouses and offspring.

A joint trial for the two “co-conspirators” was set for July 7 in the courtroom of Judge S.James Otero—although absolutely no one involved thinks the trial will commence anywhere near that soon. Moreover, sources rate the chances at approximately 80 percent that Judge Percy Anderson will elect to snatch this juicy trial for himself, thereby moving Otero out. Anderson, those following closely will remember, presided over both of the trials of James Sexton (whom it took two trials to convict), and the trial the other six former department members who, along with Sexton, were convicted of obstruction of justice concerning the hiding of federal informant Anthony Brown and other actions designed to thwart the FBI’s investigation into chronic corruption and brutality in the Los Angeles County jail system.

UPDATE: Judge Percy Anderson did indeed manage to snatch the Tanaka-Carey case. But there are still no new trial dates.

Both men were released on bond at around 4:30 p.m. Thursday afternoon. They left the building with their lawyers, looking grim and rattled. Tanaka also had his wife beside him, a pretty woman who, on this particular afternoon, looked like she’d been through one hell of a 24 hours.


THE PRESS CONFERENCE

The news that two of the guys near the top of the LASD’s hierarchy were facing federal indictments was officially announced at Thursday’s 9 a.m. press conference where Acting United States Attorney Stephanie Yonekura laid out the charges:

Tanaka was charged with obstructing a federal investigation for allegedly “directing efforts to quash a federal investigation into corruption and civil right violations by sheriff’s deputies” in two of the county’s jail facilities, Men’s Central Jail, and Twin Towers, she said.

Tom Carey, the former head of ICIB-–the LASD’s unit that oversees criminal investigations within the department—was indicted along with Tanaka for “participating in a broad conspiracy to obstruct the investigation.” In addition, Carey was charged with two counts of “making false declarations” (basically perjury) for things he said in last year’s trials of former deputy James Sexton and six former members of the department, including two lieutenants, two sergeants, and two more deputies.

As she spoke to the hyped-up crowd of reporters, Yonekura used unusually descriptive language to describe the context in which the obstruction of charges against the two men were filed, particularly concerning Tanaka, whom she said (allegedly) didn’t merely obstruct justice regarding the Anthony Brown matter, but “had a large role in institutionalizing certain illegal behavior within the Sheriff’s Department” as a whole.

David Bowdich, the new the Assistant Director in Charge for the LA offices of the FBI, went further when he took the podium after Yonekura. “The allegations in the indictment include cover-ups, diversionary tactics, retribution and a culture generally reserved for Hollywood scripts.”

As mentioned above, the charges against Carey and Tanaka are similar to the obstruction of justice charges levied against the seven former department members convicted last summer and fall (and whose cases are being heard on appeal by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, this coming fall). Except, of course, Tanaka’s and Carey’s roles were supervisory in nature. In other words, they were the ones who allegedly gave the orders that led to the obstruction charges—and the convictions—of seven department members, not the ones who mostly carried out what higher-ups told them to do.


THE INDICTMENT

The joint indictment of Paul Tanaka and Tom Carey is a 25-page document that makes for interesting reading.

The first nine pages cover what are called Introductory Allegations. These are the sort of back story that puts the rest of the legal tale—namely the various “counts” that comprise the charges—into a larger narrative context. On page three, for example, the document states that:

“Defendants TANAKA and CAREY were well aware of allegations of rampant abuse of inmates at MCJ and TTCF [Twin Towers] and of allegations of insufficient internal investigations and enforcement of deputy misconduct by the LASD.”

It then goes on for the next two or three pages to give a list of examples of how Tanaka and, in some instances, Carey, ignored reports of deputy abuse of inmates when they were brought to them by such varied sources as a jail chaplain, an ACLU monitor, an LASD deputy, a lieutenant, a commander, and more.

The indictment also describes how Tanaka, in particular, allegedly seemed to foster misbehavior—as with his infamous “work the gray” speeches, or his reported 2007 threat to “put a case” on captains “who were putting the most cases on deputies,” and so on.

The remaining pages outline the “counts,” which basically have to do with ordering and/or overseeing the alleged hiding of inmate/informant Anthony Brown from the feds, surveilling and threatening FBI special agent Leah Marx, and attempting to threaten and cajole potential deputy witnesses from talking to the FBI—plus other related actions.

A careful reading of 25-pages is also intriguing in that it suggests, among other things, a list of possible witnesses that the feds could call at trial. (It most cases, the individuals mentioned in the indictment are not named, but comparing the anecdotal material in the document with, say, accounts of the Citizens Commission on Jail Violence hearings, and WLA’s own coverage of the LASD over the last few years, may offer relevant clues.)

In response to the indictment, both in a written statement and in conversation outside the courtroom, Tanaka’s two attorneys said that the charges against their client were “baseless,” and they were confident he would be exonerated of any wrongdoing.

“We’re not going to roll over, we’re going to fight it.”

If convicted of all the charges, Tanaka could get fifteen years in a federal prison. Carey, with his extra two counts, could do 25. Yet, judging by the sentences handed down to the other seven department members last year, where the longest term ordered was 41 months, should Tanaka and Carey be found guilty, their sentences too would likely be far shorter than the maximum.


AND WHAT ABOUT BACA?

At Thursday’s press conference, a good number of the questions asked by reporters weren’t about the recently indicted Tanaka and Carey, but about the man who most conspicuously was not indicted—namely former sheriff Lee Baca. He was, after all, present at many of the meetings laid out in the charges. And in several instances he was reportedly the guy who called the meetings.

Acting US Attorney Yonekura declined to say whether or not Baca was or was not the focus of any ongoing investigation. She mostly answered the blizzard of questions by stating that “Mr. Baca is not charged at this time,” and “We will continue to look at any evidence that comes to us.” As to how they could indict the number two guy, without indicting the number one guy, she said, “We’ve charged the cases we feel we can prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Meanwhile, back among the non-indicted working department members, once the news broke about Tanaka and Carey, Sheriff Jim McDonnell sent out this message to the troops:

Today, the Department of Justice announced the indictments of former Sheriff’s employees Paul Tanaka and William Carey. The last several years have been hard on everyone. The indictments are part of a process that will run its course. During this time it is important for us to focus on our mission and look toward the future in demonstrating what the LASD is all about.

The US Attorney’s announcement is by no means a reflection on the tremendous work that you consistently do and the commitment that each of you provide to make a difference in the communities that we serve. The Sheriff’s Department is a national leader in law enforcement, an agency second to none.

I look forward to the future and continuing to work with you in moving the Department forward, not only in leadership, but in the eyes of the public.

Posted in FBI, jail, Jim McDonnell, LA County Jail, LASD, Paul Tanaka, Sheriff Lee Baca, U.S. Attorney | 83 Comments »

Indictments of Former Top LASD Officials Paul Tanaka & Tom Carey to be Announced Thursday Morning

May 14th, 2015 by Celeste Fremon


The indictment of Paul Tanaka, the former undersheriff of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department,
and the man that many considered the shadow sheriff during the last years of Lee Baca’s time in office, will be announced at a 9 a.m. press conference Thursday at the federal building, according to sources. Former LASD Captain Tom Carey will also reportedly be indicted and is expected to self-surrender Thursday morning.

Although the FBI has reportedly been investigating Tanaka on a number of fronts over the last couple of years, Thursday’s unsealed indictment is expected to pertain to an elaborate scheme of hiding of FBI informant Anthony Brown from his federal handlers, and related actions—a scheme that has already resulted in convictions of seven former department members for charges of obstruction of justice.

Tanaka and Carey testified at both of the trials that resulted in the seven previous obstruction convictions (all of which are being appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, with hearings to take place next fall). Although, on the stand, Tanaka in particular disavowed specific knowledge and oversight of the hiding of Brown. Yet the testimony of others made it hard to see him as the distant supervisor who never asked his underlings about details, whom he attempted to portray himself to be. Carey too, as the head of ICIB, the department’s unit for investigating internal criminal matters, appeared to be assigning many of the components of what came to be unofficially called Operation Pandora’s Box.

Both men admitted on the stand at the earlier trials that they knew they were the “objects” of a federal criminal investigation.

More after the press conference.

Posted in FBI, LASD, Paul Tanaka, Sheriff Lee Baca, U.S. Attorney | 120 Comments »

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