Thursday, April 24, 2014
street news, views and stories of justice and injustice
Follow me on Twitter

Search WitnessLA:

Recent Posts




Reasons Why No DA Charges On Kavanaugh & His ‘Copter….What’s Up With a 2 1/2 Year Wait on the LASD Rape Case? …& Hermosa Beach Chief Chosen

August 1st, 2013 by Celeste Fremon


The District Attorney’s office announced Wednesday morning that Hollywood studio head Ryan Kavanaugh (of Relativity Media) will not face criminal charges for landing his helicopter on a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department helipad in early February of this year.

To recap: film company executive Kavanaugh was being investigated by the LASD for possible felony charges, the idea being that Kavanaugh’s ‘copter landing interfered with the then emergent Christopher Dorner investigation.

In announcing that they were not filing on Kavanaugh, the LA District Attorney’s office put out a fascinating narrative detailing how the case came about, why they didn’t file in February, and why they weren’t filing now.

You can read the DA office statement here. But in brief, here’s the deal.

1. According to Kavanaugh, he was legally empowered to land at the LASD Biscailuz helipad because he had an Oct. 6, 2010 letter signed by then-Aero Bureau captain Louis Duran saying that Kavanaugh was an “Aero Squadron Volunteer” and, as such, he could land at any FAA approved helipad as long as he had the proprietor’s prior approval.

(Just to remind you, Aero Bureau is an elite LASD division that oversees the department’s aircraft—–mostly helicopters. We wrote previously about some reported shenanigans at Aero Bureau here and here.)

2. Kavanaugh maintained that, before he landed in this instance, he talked to his pal Paul Tanaka by phone to request permission, and Tanaka texted him back with the okay to land at the LASD helipad.

3. As for all that “interfering” business, there were two LASD helicopters nearby but they weren’t occupied and their rotors were not turning, so it appeared that the Kavanaugh ‘copter did not impede anything. Or so concluded the DA’s office.

4. Louis Duran said he was contacted about the February landing, and he sent the message back that, no, in fact Kavanaugh couldn’t land, thereby, one assumes, suddenly rescinding his earlier letter on LASD stationary.

5. Paul Tanaka too said he told Kavanaugh he couldn’t touch down.

6. When the DA’s people investigated, however, they found that the LASD investigators admitted that no message from Duran ever reached Kavanaugh, telling him not to land. Plus they provided zero evidence that Tanaka had told him the film studio guy “no.”

7. Kavanaugh’s attorney, in contrast, provided an email, supposedly from Tanaka, dated this July, saying that, indeed, he’d given Kavanaugh permission to land that night. And presumably the purported text could be traced, if it came to that.

Anyway, the tale goes on from there.

From the tone of the report, one suspects that the DA’s folks felt they had better things to do than spend time on this he said/he said nonsense, in a case where, in essence, a big fat perk was given to a rich guy, and then that same big perk may or may not have been withdrawn from the same rich guy for a labyrinthine weave of reasons.

It should be noted that, when this story first broke in the LA Times, Kavanaugh’s people suggested that the reinvestigation of the ‘copter landing might be politically motivated because Kavanaugh, who has reportedly in the past given money to one or two of the sheriff’s causes, is now a political supporter of former Undersheriff Paul Tanaka and his much-rumored-but-not-yet-announced candidacy for sheriff.

Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said this theory is preposterous and that Sheriff Baca wasn’t even aware of the investigation. “It has nothing to do with politics.” Moreover Baca is fine with the fact that the DA isn’t bringing charges, said Whitmore. “The sheriff doesn’t care.”

Wise choice.

Frankly, at this point, we don’t care either.


We do care to know, however, why charges are just now being filed in the case of LASD deputy, Jose Rigoberto Sanchez, who allegedly raped a woman while he was on duty, and attempted to coerce her and another woman (in a separate incident) into sexual acts with various threat and bribes—and was accused of doing all this and more back in September 2010.

(Here’s a link to the Daily News story on the case.)

LASD spokesman Whitmore said that the delay wasn’t caused by the sheriff’s department, which he said finished its investigation into the matter in six months, and handed it over to the DA in January 2011.

When, on Wednesday, we asked at representative from the DA’s office she said that that they conducted a “very thorough investigation,” and that now they are bringing charges. As to who or what caused the delay, the DA’s spokesperson would not elaborate.


It was announced late Wednesday that, out of two finalists for the position of Chief of Police for Hermosa Beach, City Manager Tom Bakaly chose former LAPD Assistant Chief Sharon Papa.

Papa has had a breadth of law enforcement managerial experience including serving as the Chief of Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s police department until the agency merged with the LAPD in 1997. (Papa is currently a commander in the LAPD, a rank she returned to in the change of regime between Bill Bratton and Charlie Beck.)

The other finalist for the job was Cecil Rhambo, who is an assistant sheriff at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and a close friend of former undersheriff, Paul Tanaka.

Controversy erupted briefly during the selection process when Hermosa Beach Mayor Kit Bobko abruptly announced last week that he strongly supported Cecil Rhambo. Since the final selection of the chief is left up to the city manager, the endorsement was characterized by many as an inappropriate attempt to influence the manager’s selection process.

In any case, WLA wholeheartedly congratulates Sharon Papa whom we know to be very smart, capable, personally engaging, and an all ’round terrific choice. As an LAPD insider put it when we talked this week, “she has great instincts, does not put up with the old boys network, and is an agent of change.”

Yep. Exactly.

The Daily Breeze has more on Papa’s choice as HBPD Chief.

Posted in crime and punishment, District Attorney, LASD, law enforcement, Sheriff Lee Baca | 18 Comments »

18 Responses

  1. James Carter Says:

    Looks like Baca’s trying to waste more taxpayers money and conjuring up stupid and frivolous cases…..

  2. Facts matter Says:

    “Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said this theory is preposterous and that Sheriff Baca wasn’t even aware of the investigation. “It has nothing to do with politics.” Moreover Baca is fine with the fact that the DA isn’t bringing charges, said Whitmore. “The sheriff doesn’t care.”


    ABB 2014


  3. KMA628 Says:

    Wow, what a wonderful use of LASD resources. I wonder who actually wrote this report and who submitted it to the DA (twice?) for filing? And folks are CARPING once and twice a week, yet there is time for this non-sense? I’m no fan of Little Paul but If Tanaka gave the pilot permission to land, end of story. Sounds like Baca got his crooked nose out of joint over this meeting. Sounds like an absolute abuse of authority to me.

    If ICIB finished their investigation in 6 months (no problem there) then why did it take the Office of Public Integrity so long? “They” did a thorough investigation before filing charges? Two + years? Are you kidding me?

    As far as Rhambo getting kicked to the curb, good move by Hermosa Beach PD. That would have been a slow motion train wreck with him at the wheel. Mini-Tanaka would have done the same thing to Hermosa Beach as he has done with LASD, run it into the ground. Perhaps Rhambo should retire and take up a hobby, like a videographer or something along those lines.

  4. Hawk eye Says:

    The real story here is… What exactly is an “Aero squadron volunteer”? Aero has reserves, they meet regularly ,Kavanaugh was never one of them. Kavanaugh never received any aero training or participated in any aero missions.. At least any known to regular Aero personnel. Kavanaugh is not the only “aero squadron volunteer” it appears to be a quiet little club involving millionaires and LASD brass. Other favors have been done for these “volunteers” . i. e. helipad approvals that were having zoning problems and the like. Of course Baca is behind this just as much as Tanaka. Just to be clear the millionaire squadron members are not reserves , are not seen , nor have ever been known to do any legitimate missions at Aero. Sound familiar?

  5. Huh! Says:

    This is info for a third party to use in their campaign. It proves two points, if you go against Baca he will retaliate and if you support Tanaka (with money), you get special favors. Third party, are you putting these stories in your war chest.

  6. J.London Says:

    Louie Duran NEVER sent the text that Kavanaugh could not land and that’s why Louie is gone! Plus a whole lot more criminal stuff!

    Finally our DA has done something worthwhile and filed charges! I wonder when it comes time to file on Baca will she do it or ask For Baca’s endorsement again??

    Rhambo didn’t get the chief spot because of his relationship with PT! However, please remember that Chief Beck demoted Pappa when he (Beck) took over as chief! Something that Celeste perhaps did not know!

  7. Jack Dawson Says:

    I heard a few people just retired from Aero after a few suits went down there to check up on some inventory. That could be interesting.

    With regards to our AS, was it his relationship with PT or the perception/unconfirmed sightings with a captain who fell from grace via recorded phone calls that was the issue?

    God forbid the Sheriff’s Department or the DA get around to dealing with that…. Oh yea, they let it time out so nothing was done. Patterns?? According to Whitmore, Sheriff Baca doesn’t tolerate this behavior and takes swift action.

  8. Celeste Fremon Says:

    J. London, actually, I’m pretty familiar with Papa’s professional trajectory, including the fact that she was dropped back to commander rank from that of Assitant Chief, when Charlie Beck took over from Bratton.

    (You’ll note a reference to that very thing in the paranthetical at the end of the 2nd paragraph in the story.)

    In my understanding, however, it was not a reflection of Papa’s skill or performance, but rather a matter of Beck bringing in his own team for the top slots—the three assitant chiefs and the 8 deputy chiefs—which meant a few others got bounced down, Papa among them.

  9. J.London Says:

    Celeste: Thanks for the info and I’ll do better at reading more carefully. In law enforcement one does NOT demote someone for the reasons you put forth! It’s a culture thing. Whoever told you that Beck just wanted his team pulled your socks off!If what you have reported is true that would be akin to having Peyton Manning traded down to Pop Warner football and bringing up a High School linebacker. Please smile! As this article is not about Papa I will leave it at that and wish her well and may the city not regret this selection.

  10. J.London Says:

    J: True that inventory at Aero has been a problem for years. However, I thought Wendy Wantanabe (Tanaka’s protege’and why did Tanaka intervene in her career?) conducted an extensive audit and found nothing? I guess the audit wasn’t that thorough! Again will we ever know the extent of corruption? Thanks for the information.

  11. James Carter Says:

    Tanaka for Sheriff 2014…..

  12. Facts matter Says:

    “But Bakaly said her two-rank demotion was a political consequence of LAPD Chief Charlie Beck taking over the department from William Bratton”.

    Funny how the City Manager at Hermosa Beach was honest about Sharon Papa’s demotion under Charlie Beck. I’ve known Sharon for a long time and there were many controversial decisions she made as Assistant Chief. She picked friends, whom she trusted, to take coveted positions within the LAPD. This pissed off a lot of people, but that’s politics. However, she is a GREAT woman who always tried to do the right thing for the department and it’s members, including the ones at MTA.

    A simple “Political Consequence” is exactly what happened to Tanaka, Leyva, Gomez and many others. All these individuals had their favorites and made sure their friends were taken care of; It’s human nature. I don’t care how many of you feel about what’s going on, the Sheriff is a political tyrant and has divided our great department.

    I hope one of these guys gets vindicated via the polls. I’m positive it will happen. The Sheriff’s game is up and everyone is SICK of it!

  13. KMA628 Says:

    You don’t think the next Sheriff isn’t going to wipe out the 4th floor when he is elected? He will and he will appoint people he is comfortable with and who he can trust. Anything to get rid of the stench that is up there now. The “great divide” amongst the Baca V Tanaka supporters has already started, in private and in public. The next Sheriff will be having that infamous conversation with many folks during the 30 day transition period after the election, “You can retire today as a Chief, or tomorrow as a Commander. Take your pick.”

  14. Time to Clean House Says:

    Ten months to the election in 2014. Time is getting short for an effective campaign against an incumbent. This election may also end up in a runoff too. Whoever the mystery candidate is, I hope you make the trip to Norwalk soon.  Interesting story about some of the damage Michael Carona  left behind at the Orange County Sheriffs department.

  15. Mountain Man Says:

    Well, at least kudos to Cecil for trying to get out. “Oooo, Oooo, go on, take the money and run,” as the song goes would have been a great escape.

    This next Sheriff election is going to be an ugly circus and if anybody is stuck on a fence it is Cecil. Good luck with all of that buddy.

  16. Lesser evil Says:

    I agree .. It’s gonna get ugly! I don’t see the Sheriff surviving this one. A recent LA Times Poll between Tanaka and Baca showed Tanaka having over 80% of the vote. Pretty startling considering Baca is a long time incumbent. That’s probably going to be his down fall. 16 Years of Hot Air.

  17. Time to Clean House Says:

    Baca and Tanaka will have a tough time for one to remain on the fourth floor, and the other to return. One only needs to replay parts of the video taken during the CCJV testimony of both. Baca’s ” Don’t elect me” statement. You said it,  you got it Leroy! Tanaka  interviews given speaking about Baca’s  performance. Paul was the second in command, yet  did nothing to change the “House of Cards” he described. Why would you be any different now? Get ready for the voters of Los Angeles County to give you both the Carmen Trutanich treatment.

  18. Facts matter Says:

    “Get ready for the voters of Los Angeles County to give you both the Carmen Trutanich treatment”

    Probably just Baca, since he’s the incumbent who is going to lose against Tanaka,Gomez or any other viable candidate. LA Times just told him to STEP DOWN!

    ABB 2014

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.