Wednesday, December 17, 2014
street news, views and stories of justice and injustice
Follow me on Twitter

Search WitnessLA:

Recent Posts

Categories

Archives

Meta


OPERATION PANDORA’S BOX: Will Hiding a Federal Informant Result in Criminal Indictments for Members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department?

July 23rd, 2013 by Celeste Fremon


PROLOGUE

For 18 days in the summer of 2011, members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department reportedly went to elaborate lengths to hide a federal informant from the FBI, an operation that those involved say was approved at the highest levels, including by former-Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, then the department’s powerful second in command, and by Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca himself. Despite a grand jury convened to investigate the matter, and a lengthy and ongoing probe by the FBI, Baca and his spokespeople still maintain that the informant was hidden for his own safety.

(The sheriff’s main spokesman, Steve Whitmore will be interviewed by the FBI on the matter early next week.)

However, those department members who actually did the hiding say that the official line is untrue, that even back in 2011 when they were in the midst of “Operation Pandora’s Box,” as they came to call it, they knew without question that what they were doing was illegal.

This is the inside story of that operation.


THE INFORMANT

In the summer of 2011, Anthony Brown, 44, was a convicted armed bank robber languishing in Los Angeles County’s Men’s Central Jail, while he waited to be transferred to the California state prison at Lancaster, his first stop in a very long stay behind bars. As it turned out, however, in addition to being a jail inmate, Brown was something else: a carefully cultivated informant for the FBI.

At the time, the feds were—and still are—investigating charges of widespread brutality, abuse and corruption inside the Los Angeles County jails, which are run by the LA County Sheriff’s Department. As a part of the investigation, Brown was embedded as a spy in Men’s Central Jail—MCJ—the county’s largest, most rundown and statistically the most troubled facility. In order to secretly report to his federal handlers, Brown had a contraband cell phone, which allowed him to call or text information about any misconduct and wrongdoing on the part of deputies he might personally witness, or hear about via the jail’s very gossipy grapevine.

Phones are, of course, strictly forbidden inside the jail. So when, in mid-August 2011, by pure happen chance, a jail deputy discovered the contraband phone during what was reported to be a routine search of Brown’s cell, the deputy followed protocol and quickly turned over the phone to the jail internal investigative unit, JIU. Concerned that Brown was using the phone for illegal activities, the jail investigators examined his call and text log, and found that, indeed, there were a few phone numbers that Brown dialed repeatedly. When investigators ran those numbers, the information they got back was not what they expected.

“Most of the numbers led back to a building at 11000 Wilshire Boulevard,” said one insider. In other words, LA’s FBI headquarters.


THE EXPLOSION

“Motherfuckers!

The cluster of employees sitting at the five or so desks within earshot of then-Assistant Sheriff Paul Tanaka’s office on the 4th floor of the SHB—the Sheriff’s Headquarters Building in Monterey Park—did what they always did when Tanaka began screaming. They busied themselves looking anywhere but at each other.

Motherfuckers! Motherfuckers!

Tanaka, a highly intelligent, but physically small man, was infamous for these outsized eruptions of fury, which were reportedly frequent enough that the 4th floor workers who could not help but overhear them had developed intricate coping mechanisms, which mostly consisted of careful disinterest, lest the anger be suddenly turned their direction.

“Mr. Tanaka yelled at almost everyone,” said one witness to this particular tantrum, “even sometimes people like Assistant Sheriff Cecil Rambo, who was his good friend.” This time, however, Tanaka was not yelling at anyone who was physically present in his office, but at whomever had just called him on the phone. His fury was formidable. “The worst I’d ever heard,” said the witness. “He kept slamming his hand on the desk as he talked. “

You stupid fucking idiots! “Bam, bam! “I’m surrounded by fu-u-c-king idiots!!” Bam, bam, bam!

At the time, no one listening knew what the call was about, as they could hear only Tanaka’s side of the conversation. It was only later, that they were able to piece together the fact that this was the moment when the then assistant sheriff first learned about Brown, the cell phone, and the FBI connection.

According to sources, Sheriff Lee Baca was not seen on the 4th floor that day. The assumption was that he was out of town. But he reportedly met with Tanaka in the latter’s office a day or two later. “And normally he never came to Tanaka’s office,” said the source. “That’s how we knew that there was some kind of unusual crisis.”


THE AGENT

It is not certain who ordered what happened next. It could have been Paul Tanaka. It could have been Sheriff Baca. It could have been Tanaka with Baca’s permission or at his orders. Most sources believe it was some version of the latter.

Whatever the provenance of the order, on an evening after the discovery that Anthony Brown was working with the feds, two Sergeants from ICIB—the department’s criminal investigative unit—paid an after-midnight, unannounced and entirely unrequested visit to the home a female FBI agent who was one of Brown’s federal handlers. (For the sake of convenience, let’s call her Diana Engels, although that is not her real name.)

The two ICIB guys rolled up to Engels house and attempted to question the federal agent, threatening to arrest her, saying they could play hard ball and get a warrant if they wished to, or words to that affect. The two sergeants also reportedly used their car’s hi definition camera that is attached to a powerful microphone, to surreptitiously record the conversation with Engels.

In truth, of course, the ICIB sergeants had no way of arresting Engels, as she had done nothing illegal. The purpose of the visit appeared to be mostly an attempt to bully and intimidate the federal agent, and perhaps to get some information out of her.

According to sources, the ICIB agents later played the recording for Sheriff Baca as part of a briefing on the matter. Baca reportedly thanked one of the sergeants for providing him with the week’s best laugh.


THE SQUAD

A day or two after the nighttime visit to the FBI agent, LASD Deputy James Sexton got a text from Deputy Gerard Smith telling him to come to Men’s Central Jail for a meeting. Both Smith and Sexton were members of Operation Safe Jails, or OSJ, a specialized investigative unit that, as its name suggests, does its intelligence gathering inside the LA County Jail system, making use of jail informants to uncover illegal activities both in the jails and on the streets. OSJ also tracks, to what degree they are able, the moods and movements of the prison gangs that have a strong and often corrosive presence in the jails.

Although both Smith and Sexton were OSJ deputies, Smith was slightly higher up the food chain than Sexton, as he was a favorite of the unit’s commanding officer, Lt. Greg Thompson.

“Hey, I got something and I need your help,” Smith texted.

Within the hour, Smith, Sexton, and a third deputy named Mickey Manzo, all met with Lt. Thompson, who explained that there was an inmate that OSJ needed to hide. Manzo was another deputy whom Thompson frequently relied on for tasks, and Sexton was the computer whiz of OSJ, hence his inclusion. (Another computer savvy deputy, Jason Pearson, would be added later.) At the ad hoc meeting, Thompson outlined a highly unusual situation in which they must hide an inmate inside the jail system, but they must hide him so completely that no one outside of a special few would have any way of detecting his presence, either physically or digitally.

Paradoxically, the inmate, who was, of course, federal informant Anthony Brown, must not merely be rendered invisible, he must, at the same time, be accessible to special few.

To accomplish this dual purpose, meant some unorthodox actions. The operation also required a trustworthy team.

(THE REST OF “OPERATION PANDORA’S BOX” IS AFTER THE JUMP)


HIDING THE BALL

The next phase of hiding Anthony Brown took place on or about Wednesday, August 24, 2011, when approximately thirteen OSJ deputies—Smith, Manzo, Pearson, and Sexton among them—were called to a meeting in the staff barbecue area outside Men’s Central Jail, known as Hero’s Park.

Normally if an OSJ operation required a meeting, it would have been held inside the jail. But Thompson and some of the other jail administrators had been jittery for a while about the possibility of bugs or listening devices planted inside the jail itself by federal agents. And the whole Anthony Brown/cell phone thing had not exactly calmed their paranoia. Hence the meeting’s outdoor location.

OSJ deputies generally consider themselves to be an elite squad. And this group was made up of Thompson’s best guys, the deputies whose unquestioned loyalty he trusted the most. While they waited for their boss to show up, they talked about what they knew. “Some dude was found with a cell phone,” Mickey Manzo confirmed.

Greg Thompson, who was typically a casually attired guy, arrived in a suit and tie, having just come from a meeting with the brass at the SHB—department headquarters. Since this was a Need to Know operation, Thompson told the deputies only the basics, much of which they already knew via the deputy grapevine. An inmate had been caught with a contraband cell phone, that he was being worked as an informant by the feds, and that he needed to be hidden at the orders of Assistant Sheriff Paul Tanaka. In order to accomplish this task, a two-deputy detail would be on Brown at all times, stationed outside his cell. The idea was to make certain that no one—no one—without clearance could talk to the inmate, or even know he was anywhere in the LASD system. Most particularly the team was told that “under no circumstances” should anyone from the FBI or representatives of the U.S. Attorney’s office be allowed anywhere near Anthony Brown.

This is coming directly from Paul Tanaka, Thompson reportedly repeated in case anybody missed the point.

It was also coming from Baca, according to Mickey Manzo who confided to several of his fellow deputies that he had been present at SHB when Thompson briefed the sheriff on the whole matter. Manzo even described how at several points Baca unhappily put his head in his large hands at what he was hearing.

In the days after the Hero’s Park meeting, Manzo and Gerard Smith both confided on several occasions to various team members about what they had observed at subsequent briefings with Baca.

“See, it’s a big event for a deputy to get to brief the sheriff,” said one team member, “so they wanted to brag about it to somebody.” And their OSJ buddies were the safest.

Nearly a year and a half later, when the LA Times’ Robert Faturechi broke the story of Anthony Brown’s existance and about the report that the sheriff’s department might be deliberately hiding him, the matter was explained by sheriff’s department spokesman, Steve Whitmore, as having been done for Brown’s safety at the inmate’s own request. The implication was that, once it became known that Brown was an informant, he was fearful that he would be retaliated against, or even killed, by jail deputies who saw him as a dangerous snitch. However, OSJ team members present at the Hero’s Park meeting scoffed at the notion

“At no point were we told that we were protecting this inmate’s safety,” said one deputy. “Never! We were told explicitly that we were hiding him from the FBI. That’s all we were told right from the beginning. We were also told that the direction had come straight from the top.”

“Look,” said a second OSJ source, “we have the guy in our jails who is accused of murdering Juan Escalante [a very well liked deputy who was stationed at MCJ when he was fatally shot as he was headed to work]. I mean, he killed one of our own, and we manage to keep him safe. We have people in Men’s Central Jail who have EME hits on them” [referring to the Mexican Mafia], “and we know how to keep them safe. So to say we went through this huge routine to keep Anthony Brown safe from department deputies? That is seriously laughable! We did it to keep him away from the feds. Period.”


GAMING THE DATABASE

During the more than two-and-half weeks that Brown was hidden from the FBI, the OSJ team moved their charge between several locations within the LA County jail system. Yet he spent much of his time in a jail located in one of the department’s most out-of-the-way stations, namely San Dimas, a small city the LASD contracts to police, that is situated off the 210 Freeway, about halfway between downtown LA and San Bernardino—in other words, not the place that anybody searching for someone would think to look first.

But playing hide-the-ball with Brown’s physical whereabouts was not the hardest part about concealing Anthony Brown. In addition to moving the inmate around physically within the jail system, the team had to change Brown’s alias, his booking number, and his physical descriptors every 48 hours to avoid setting off alarms in the jails’ aging, homegrown computer system known as AJIS—Automatic Jail Information System—which is used to manage the information system requirements for the department’s custody facilities.

Among its various functions, AJIS tracks the identification, the movements, the medical requirements, the court dates, prison transfer dates and/or release dates of each inmate. Thus if one needed to hide someone, that meant one needed to hide him or her from AJIS in such a way that would leave no embarrassing breadcrumbs or digital oddities that might prove troublesome in the event of a future investigation.

Tricking AJIS, however, required a bit of doing. For one thing, when the team began the operation, according to AJIS, Anthony Brown was ready to be shipped out to state prison—-which obviously the department had no intention of doing, since the whole point of this operation was to buy time so that LASD investigators could find out what exactly Brown knew.

This meant that someone had to persuade AJIS to “release” the computerized Anthony Brown, as if he was actually being released to the street, as this the easiest way to make his name vanish from the system. Then moments after his computerized “release,” Brown would be “booked” into the database as a brand new inmate, with a brand new name and distinguishing traits—all of which required some digital sleight of hand.

“That required a new booking packet—what we call a ‘nine line,’” said one of the OSJ team members. “First name, last name, DOB, and descriptors.”

Anthony Brown was a large man, 5’10 and around 220 lbs, “so he tended to stand out.” Thus the OSJ team changed his height, weight, body-type, along with other descriptors, like race, hair and eye color, every time they changed his name—which they had to do every two days, exactly. Otherwise, at the 48-hour mark, AJIS would notice that the “new” inmate had not been “live scanned”—aka fingerprinted—and ever-vigilant AJIS would begin to send out alarms. Therefore, just before the deadline, the “new” inmate—aka Brown—would be “released,” and yet a newer “new “ inmate (still Brown) would be booked into the system, with yet another name, a “nine line “and the rest.

Then 48 hours later, the team did it all over again. And again. And again.

For 18 days.


GRAY AREAS

When they were first trying to figure out how to get around AJIS, Thompson and his team leaders floated the idea of using deputies’ finger prints to avoid the need for so much faux moving of Brown, but they were quickly disabused of that notion. “Live scan fingerprints are sent directly to the California Department of Justice where they remain on file forever,” said a team member. “So, no, that was not a good thing to do to some poor deputy.

Even more problematic than the merry-go-round of release/catch/release, was the bothersome fact that the real Anthony Brown was taking medication, adding a yet another level of false information that had to be fed into AJIS so that the multiple mythical inmates that were Brown could be given the medication that Brown required without setting off warnings that could conceivably be tracked by outsiders later.

“Every log in is anonymous,” said an LASD source, “so if you have the right clearance, and know the right commands, you can get whatever you want from AJIS without leaving tracks.”

But the OSJ did not have the right clearance to do some of the necessary phony data entering, so they had to rope in someone who did have the necessary clearance.

This was not exactly a slam-dunk. Some of the non-team members balked when asked to perform the highly unusual computer work-arounds.

One such person was a non-sworn LASD employee, a “civilian,” named Greg Sivard who reportedly raised concerns about such a bald-faced breaking of rules.

“Plus we were telling the medical professionals every 24 to 48 hours that we had a new body that needed medicine,” said a team member. “And that was freaking them out!”

When the team members ran into the inevitable resistance, they had all been instructed utter the magic phrase: This is being directed by the Assistant Sheriff, Mr. Tanaka.

“We just told them ‘Mr. Tanaka, Mr. Tanaka, Mr. Tanaka. If you have any questions, call Mr. Tanaka.’”

“I think it’s about that time,” said one one team member, “when a lot of us of recognized that we were probably doing something really wrong.”

In fact, several members of the OSJ team told us of their discomfort about the operation. “This was unilaterally ‘in the gray,’” said another team member.

So why did they do it?

“People did it because it’s made clear that if you say ‘No,’ it won’t sit well with your superiors,” an OSJ deputy explained. “You think, ‘What about my job? My career? What if one day I want to buy a house?’

“So you do it,” he said, ‘because you want the people above you to think, ‘This guy’s stand-up. He can handle the gray area and get things done. He’s a company man. And you do it because it’s common knowledge that, in a lot of parts of this department, the main way to get ahead is to be ‘in the car’ with somebody who has power, which means helping them out when they ask you. In the case of our team, we did it to help out Greg Thompson, who was helping out Paul Tanaka,” who was easily the second most powerful person in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and according to some, the shadow sheriff.

Still, perhaps it was an artifact of their discomfort that several of the OSJ team members started to jokingly call their collective actions Operation Pandora’s Box, after the mythical container that, once opened, loosed a variety of ills upon the world that could never again be forced back into captivity.


THE OVERTIME FACTOR

I am in the process of making the next week or two of schedules for the Brown detail. I need to know who is going to be out of town (Vegas conference) include dates and or hours you are unavailable. If you anticipate being unavailable for any other reason, I need to know that ASAP so I can get this schedule done, and you can make some $$$$$. Thank you.

(Email from Gerard Smith, August 24, 2011, to Pandora team)

In addition to being complicated, hiding Anthony Brown was reportedly expensive. All the deputies on the OSJ team worked at least one full shift of overtime each week as part of the operation, some of them more, during a period where the department was supposed to be slashing overtime down to the absolute minimum—hence Smith’s statement in his email of “you can make some $$$$. The overtime being generated was substantial enough that a “dedicated overtime account,” was created with the official name of: Operation OSJ, Summer 2011.


THE OTHER PANDORA TEAM

Thompson’s OSJ crew was not the only team that was involved with the Brown operation.

There was also a second team that operated in far more secrecy than the OSJ guys. This team was headed by Lt. Steve Leavins, and was made up of various homicide detectives, and undercover types, pulled from multiple places in the department. Thompson and Leavins were at the same rank, but Leavins was a lead investigator at ICIB and, according to sources who worked on the project, had more juice with the higher-ups on the 4th floor than Thompson did, even though Thompson was known to have a longtime relationship with Tanaka, going back decades to their days as ankle-tattooed Vikings* at Lynwood.

Yet, it was reportedly Leavins, far more than Thompson, who regularly briefed Tanaka.

“Leavins would come up to Tanaka’s office to make reports in person, sometimes two or three times a day,” said one department observer.

While Thompson’s OSJ team was supposed to hide and guard Brown, Leavins’ team was tasked with getting information out of the man.

Even more than with Thompson’s crew, Leavins’ team’s actions were extremely secretive, at times self-consciously so. They reportedly met for planning and debriefing in the LASD’s Monterey Park headquarters in a room with its windows temporarily blacked out, a set up that only served to draw the attention of otherwise uninterested department members.

Once Leavins team was up and running, they used a variety of methods to try to get information out of Brown. For instance, during the first week of Operation Pandora, Leavins sent two undercover cops from his group into Brown’s cell. At the time Brown was being kept in MCJ’s 8000 unit, on the medical floor. The two undercovers were both African American, like Brown, and both dressed like inmates with medical conditions, supposedly needing a place to be stashed until a permanent cell could be found for them. In order to make the scene more realistic, the two OJS deputies guarding Brown “resisted” the intrusion with terse and angry theatricality, agreeing only to the new “inmates’” presence for a few hours.

Most often, however, the questioning of Brown was more straightforward, and occurred primarily at night, particularly once he had been moved to the San Dimas station, where the OSJ team was instructed to “soften him up.” The instruction had no Abu Ghraib-ian overtones. Mainly this meant getting Brown treats and special privileges, like lots of smoking breaks, and special deliveries of Kentucky Fried Chicken, all with the purpose of gaining his cooperation.

Then on certain nights, whatever deputy was guarding Brown would be told to bring him to a particular room in another area of the station where three to five Leavins team members would question him for hours.

When the investigators were finished for the night, the OSJ guard would be texted to retrieve Brown from what was often an otherwise empty room, littered with snack wrappers and coffee cups.

Not surprisingly, the OSJ deputies were not informed as to what the Leavins team investigators ever got out of Brown.

However, one night during the first few days of the operation, an OSJ deputy happened to have few moments alone in Brown’s cell during the period when the informant was briefly seeing a nurse. Out of curiosity, the deputy stepped over to Brown’s stacks of papers and legal pads, and glanced through some of the 20-some pages of handwritten notes that Brown had evidently been keeping. The team member reportedly saw three or four names of jail deputies whom Brown listed as having gotten him cocaine. There were also names of deputies who Brown indicated owed him money in return for some kind of favor. According to a source, Brown wrote about most of these transactions in pages and pages of highly detailed prose, in which he itemized every nuance of the various alleged exchanges.

The OSJ deputy had only a few minutes in the cell, thus could only skim Brown’s approximately 25 pages of longhand. But, the impression he came away with, he said, was that, if what Brown wrote was true, the informant had information that could implicate a number of MCJ deputies in criminal acts.


SO, DID THE FBI TRY TO GET HIM BACK?

Sheriff’s department spokespeople have maintained that, at no point did the FBI come looking for their informant. The LASD also maintains that several calls to the feds about Brown got no reply. WLA was not able to determine the truth of the latter statement, but we do have some information about the former.

While, indeed, sources tell us that, to their knowledge the FBI did not come knocking on the front door of Men’s Central Jail and demand to see Anthony Brown. But according to several sources, about a week into Operation Pandora, the US Marshalls knocked on the door in the FBIs stead. “A woman who works at IRC called and told us that they’d just gotten a call on the law enforcement line from a US Marshall who said the marshalls had a removal order, which is a court order, to collect an inmate named Anthony Brown,” said a source. (“IRC” is the jail system’s inmate reception center). According to members of Operation Pandora, “she told the marshal’s ‘I’m sorry sir but there’s was no one by that name in our system.”

The marshal reportedly replied, “That’s bullshit,” or words to that effect.

Another OSJ source confirmed the report that marshals had come knocking and added that, on two separate occasions when he was on guard detail for Brown, once at MCJ, a second time at San Dimas, he got a call from Gerard Smith who said that he and his partner should be prepared for the arrival of some US Marshals who had a removal order for Brown.

“Do not let him take the inmate,” Smith reportedly told the two deputies.

The OSJ deputy on duty was a bit taken aback. “I wasn’t sure how exactly I was supposed to stop some armed federal marshals,” he said.

It turned out to be a moot point as, in both cases, the marshals never arrived.

“The whole time everyone was terrified of leaks,” said another OSJ deputy—meaning the kind of leak, he explained, that might allow the FBI to swoop in and grab Brown.

By the evening of September 11, the Leavins team was finished with Brown. The following day, Brown was transferred to the California State Prison at Lancaster.

In order to make the transfer possible, the Pandora team had to perform one more act of digital sorcery. Brown’s ghost inmate self was “released, and Brown was booked into Men’s Central Jail as a brand new inmate under his old booking number, which was attached to his old case number. Then the real Brown was live scanned, and voila! Anthony Brown was digitally rematerialized. Minutes later, a deputy informed AIJIS that inmate Brown was being transferred out of county jail to the custody of the state.

Four of the Operation Pandora’s Box team members, Mickey Manzo, Gerard Smith, James Sexton, and Noah Kirk, piled into a two-car convoy, and personally drove Brown to the California State Prison at Lancaster on Monday night.

And that was that.

The next morning, Deputy Smith sent out the following email to the Pandora team.

Sept 13,

Over the past few weeks you have helped out tremendously, with the safeguarding of inmate Anthony Brown. You have done so without asking to [sic] many questions and prying into the investigation at hand. Inmate Brown was transferred to Lancaster State Prison last night, so that part of the investigation is over, however this investigation is and will continue to be a time consuming affair. I am both proud and thankful to have each and every one of you to rely on, in a time of need. Your dedication and professionalism is and will continue to be needed. There will continue to be times during this investigation when I will need your help. I am confident that I will be able to call on any of you in a time of need. Once again thank you.

Always remember we are a UNIT. We were picked by people, who want to see us succeed and grow. I believe we all have similar goals for our unit, so if someone is lacking in a particular area, we must all work together to help them succeed. If we work together, we will always succeed. If you need anything, give me a call. THANX, Smitty


THE CIGAR DEBRIEF

There was no formal debriefing for Operation Pandora’s Box, but two or three weeks after Brown had been driven to prison, Lt. Thompson called an informal meeting, again outside the jail complex in Hero’s Park. He handed out cigars to the nine or so OSJ participants, then Thompson reportedly articulated in plain terms what the OSJ’s mandate was when it came to dealing with the FBI.

“It is our job to keep the FBI out of our jails,” Thompson said, “and to make life as difficult for the FBI as possible.” There was even a discussion at the cigar meeting about putting clandestine recording devices in the interview rooms that the feds used when they were talking to prisoners. But, according to our sources, that plan was never carried out.

Yet the message was unambiguous.. “Fuck the FBI!” Lt. Thompson reportedly said to his troops before the meeting disbanded, a cigar still in his hand, his features arranged in a rakish grin.



POSTSCRIPT: WHAT ABOUT INDICTMENTS?

Since the operation ended, many of the members of Thompson’s team have been questioned by FBI agents, as have others involved in some aspect of the operation, such as clerks at the jail’s Inmate Reception Center. Team members have also been subpoenaed to appear in front of a grand jury in order to talk about the hiding of Anthony Brown, some appearing as many as three times.

No one whom we spoke with who had been interviewed by the feds had any doubt that the FBI was pursuing the Anthony Brown operation with the intention of issuing criminal indictments. In addition to the issue of obstruction of justice, the feds reportedly mentioned such federal statutes as 241 and 242, Conspiracy Against Rights, and Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law, respectively.

If the ongoing investigation does result in indictments, exactly when such indictments might be brought, how many, and how high up they might go…is anybody’s guess. This is, after all, just one of at least three—possibly as many as five— major investigative tracks being pursued by the feds against members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

We do know that Paul Tanaka testified in front of a grand jury regarding Operation Pandora (and other issues) on December 19, 2012, with FBI interviews conducted a month earlier. We also know that he has been interviewed again by the FBI at least once late this spring, “in connection with the pending grand jury investigation,” and that Mr. Tanaka has hired a high profile criminal defense attorney named Ron Nessim.

As for the sheriff, he was interviewed by the FBI about Anthony Brown on April 12, 2013, prior to which time he received a letter specifying that he was not the object of the investigation.

We have not yet been able confirm whether or not he has been interviewed since that time.

We do know, however, as we mentioned earlier, that Baca’s longtime spokesperson, Steve Whitmore, is one of the newest people to be summoned by the FBI for an interview about the Anthony Brown operation. The interview is to take place on Monday, July 29.

When I spoke to Whitmore about the Brown investigation in general, he said that the department and the sheriff were cooperating in fully with the FBI and welcomed their investigation. Whitmore also again confirmed that it was Baca’s contention that Anthony Brown was hidden for the inmate’s safety.

As for his own testimony, Whitmore said that he looked forward to fully cooperating. “I want to help in any way I can.”

Just before we ended the call, I asked if he was at all nervous.

“A little nervous,” Whitmore admitted.

“But as they say, and I truly believe this” Whitmore added, “’The truth will set you free.’

Indeed.


*The Vikings are the once notorious deputy clique that originated at the department’s Lynwood station.


UPDATE: On the morning of December 9, the first round of federal indictments against 18 members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were unsealed by U.S. Attorney Birotte. Among those charged were seven members of the teams that hid or questioned Anthony Brown. Those indicted on the Brown matter included two lieutenants, two sergeants, and three deputies—Gerard Smith, Mickey Manzo and James Sexton, despite the fact that Sexton had reportedly acted as a whistleblower and come to the FBI on his own accord. To date, no one above the rank of lieutenant has yet been indicted regarding the Brown operation.


Illustration by Walter Crane (1845-1915) courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Posted in FBI, LA County Jail, LASD, Sheriff Lee Baca | 44 Comments »

44 Responses

  1. J.London Says:

    To C and her crew: I’ve got to hand it to you guys! Good job! If the Feds don’t prosecute we can never expect the LASD to recover! I think of all the people who have come forward to risk the lives and careers to expose the corruption of Lee Baca, Tanaka, Thompson and all the rest! Thanks to Pat Gomez and all his witnesses, Bob Olmstead, Ray Leyva, Al Gonzales and all the other heroes who risked it all! Thanks! I pray that your sacrifice will be rewarded! And Whitmore the TRUTH will set you free spiritually so why don’t you tell the truth? Because the truth will set you in jail!

  2. Investigative Mind Says:

    Nothing here is surprising because this behavior is happening all over the departmental units. Retaliation still exists even as of yesterday in Detective Division. This NEVER seems to end.

    All I know is DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT!!!!!!

    I think I am going to be sick. ughh.

  3. CSN83 Says:

    Sounds to me like a whole bunch of officers need to be relieved of duty. And we thought the Sgt test scandal was a disappointment.

    This is nothing new and still they work. Send them home until the investigation is over. But who will do the investigation?

    To the Deputies, I hope you took notes as those homes you had hoped to buy one day might be gone now. I have found the higher the rank the less they knew and the more fault you will get. What the hell were you thinking?

    The administration will give your job away to save their own from Baca on down. Do yourself a favor and tell the truth when asked. That will set you free to forgive yourself for making such a bad choice with your career.

  4. J.London Says:

    Add, if you haven’t read the entire article I urge you to do so!

  5. Wild Turkey Says:

    CSN83, you’re pretty hard on the rank and file deps. I’m curious what you think they should have done, or more directly, what would you have done if you were a custody dep with 3-5 years on and had been ordered by MR T himself to carry this out?

    This was a Baca/Tanaka operation from the get go. ICIB was present and participating. So who would the rank and file go to in order to report wrong doing? What exactly should they have done?

    And everyone seems to forget, the ONLY reason this article and the investigation described within exists is because OSJ deputies involved cold called the FBI and blew the whistle, and leaked this to the press to shine a light. Those OSJ deputies who called “bullsh*t” and made the calls deserve a lot of praise for bringing this forward.

    Some of the rank and file deputies have been stubborn and recalcitrant in being forthcoming. They deserve scorn and will certainly get their lump of coal.

    How about relieving LEROY BACA, since he was in charge of this operation? Oh, of course not. We don’t do that. We just destroy the lives of rank and file deputies. Not supervisors. You can always tell a supervisor by the way they immediately call to have every DSG involved rolled up, and turn a blind eye to the 4th floor.

  6. CSN83 Says:

    Investigative MInd, What happened yesterday in the Detective Division??????

  7. Jack Dawson Says:

    CSN83,

    A wise person once said, “you will always give the best speech you will ever regret when angry”…

    This is not the first time several people have had to remind you that the deputies involved are OUR young men who need mentors and support now more than ever. How is having a position on a specialized unit leveraged against them in return for their compliance their fault? Can you show me where the 911 for the Feds is located? Lord knows I could use it for my own observations in this place.

    Regardless, take pause and note this article is an evaluation of systemic and calculated process to obstruct an investigation by the FBI at the direction of the highest levels. One can’t help to notice your favorite name is mentioned several times in the post. Can’t wait to read your personal attacks and self righteous comments.

    What would you have done at that point in your career. I have no doubt you would have told the department “no, this is illegal!!” And once the retaliation began, I’m sure you would have seeked the intervention of courts.

    Instead, you want them relieved and austrized further. Sounds about right… This will fall on deaf ears but the call to action has been sounded. Time to do more than post, but that would require raising money, putting your name on lawsuits, and reaching out beyond our broken command structure. Easier said than done folks, right CSN83??

  8. Huh! Says:

    Lets see the execs spin this one! It is really sad to see how many on the department have sold their souls in the hopes of getting “in the car.” What ever happened to our reputation of standing up to the “powers that be.” The reason I chose this department is that guys, way before me, had established themselves as ” no nonsense types.” They would stand up to thugs on the streets as well as the bully execs. I guess that’s what comes out of hiring people who do the job only for the paycheck!

    It’s almost embarrassing to be part of this department. I just wish the public was better informed so that we could look forward to some real change in the future.

  9. Huh! Says:

    Like I have said before, well said “J.London” and “Wild Turkey.” I truly hope to meet you guys one day and shake your hand for telling it like it is, and always calling BS.

  10. Wild Turkey Says:

    Jack Dawson, you bring up an interesting point I had missed. Placing a custody deputy, who thinks that wearing a raid jacket and jeans makes you a rock star, in a specialized unit that isn’t considered coveted gives the executives a LOT of leverage against them.

    Apparently CSN83 is suggesting that he would have said “I refuse! This is immoral!” I don’t know exactly though, because he neatly side stepped my question.

    Had any OSJ deputy done that, the operation would have gone on anyway, they would have been rolled up back to the line, and black balled by those “in the car”.

    They whistle blowers on the OSJ team handled it the best way they could have. “Okay you’re the boss” but picking up the phone and dialing the FBI. It takes serous, serious balls to cold call the FBI as a custody deputy, against your own department when everyone in the world is more connected and influential than you are, and you’re trying to make a name for yourself with the LASD power brokers.

    Custody deps are expendable assets, easily intimidated, manipulated and convinced that it’s “for the good of the department”. They are terrified of taking an unpopular stand against anything wrong because they fear what reputation will follow them to patrol. That’s why they were used so extensively in this op.

    But let’s not forget Greg Thompson. He needs to be examined as a case study of what Tanaka has wrought on our department. There are dozens of coin-holders like him that are a shadow government for Tanaka even while Mr T is away from the department.

    Thompson has decades of close association with Paul Tanaka. They share tattoos, and rumors abound that Thompson wrote the paper that cleaned up an ugly shooting for Tanaka. They are pretty tight from what I hear. And from what we know from other witnessla articles, Thompson is in his comfort zone when he’s breaking laws and throwing the rank and file to the wolves to put a new coat of paint on “the car”.

    This whole shebang was a criminal conspiracy dreamed up by Tanaka/Baca and Thompson, and implemented by a Lt. who could leverage unquestioning loyalty and obedience out of his troops at OSJ because he gave them what they wanted. A decent schedule and a little feel for real police work. The deck was stacked against the DSGs from the word go.

    I’m surprised any of them had the courage to come forward and say to the FBI “there’s something you should know”. That’s a huge decision for a custody deputy to make. That shows how far off the reservation they felt this operation went.

  11. Roy Says:

    Could someone please tell me what the dept. did to Pat Gomez that resulted in the million dollar settlement…I worked with him prior to my retirement and thought he was a great Deputy.. I read years ago that there was some type of problem but have never known exactly what the dept did to him…

  12. High Horse Says:

    CSN83…. Ever since you started posting, you’ve been on a horse too high for any of us to reach!! Everyone on here who has done combat know that Politics and Power trump any Whistle Blower protections that exist. If they said “no”, then they were done!! If they were done, then their families were done!! You haven’t a clue what that choice means!! I have

  13. CSN83 Says:

    #Wild Turkey We all have a choice in what we do on this job. Perhaps I am hard on them as I took the same oath as they did. We were hired to protect and serve, not to be a cool guy. I feel that when any supervisor tells you to do something that is unethical and wrong you must walk away. If you believe the article in any fashion, Baca/Tanaka/Thompson and those that followed have made a really bad decision. This has the makings of a B rated movie as it is obvious from the beginning what the out come will be.

    I do wonder why they did’t give up the informant to begin with. If the inmate saw and reported illegal going ons in the jail let those doing it take the hit. What were they trying to hide?

    I am so proud of the deputies that called this mess into the FBI and those guys are reclaiming their own integrity back. What they did took a lot of courage and while they may have fallen into a bad situation they themselves are taking responsibility for their own decisions and moving forward. There is not a day that goes by that those who are close to them need to give a call and say hello.

    Baca needs to go as it starts and ends with him.

  14. Justice Says:

    There are several good points brought up, but much is forgotten. Everyone does have a choice, but each choice comes with sacrifices. Do you expect new custody deps to go through everything on their own? You get relieved or fired for doing the right thing and who calls them? Do you? Who backs them up? You? Many can’t take that pressure, so they try to wade through the murky waters hoping for a way out but all they get is “the truth will set you free”. Give me a break, what good does that do them. If you are going to use a quote from Jesus at least use it right because the way the department is going and with monday night quarterbacks everywhere Jesus is the only thing that can save them. Not every custody dep is good and for those that aren’t, yes get rid of them. But don’t dare try to sit on the sidelines and tell the known and unknown deps who have been retaliated against what to do but not help them.

    CSN83 you talk a big game, you swore the same oath? Good, there are others that did what you asked and have been fired for it. You better put up or shut up cause those guys are going to need you. Jack Dawson hit the nail on the head “Time to do more than post, but that would require raising money, putting your name on lawsuits, and reaching out beyond our broken command structure.” And more lawsuits are coming. Since “Custody deps are expendable assets, easily intimidated, manipulated” believe there are more that will require your help. If you aren’t willing then shut up because nobody cares how proud you are if you aren’t going to do anything about it.

  15. 10-33_Go Says:

    Sorry, I just disagree with the emphasis-placing on the line deputies. These guys have been beat up for years, during the hiring process, the academy, training and custody, about the importance of the chain of command, so I think it’s fanciful to think the majority of any group of deputies in their position would see the big picture, see the potential downstream consequences of their small part of a directed effort, and to quite literally walk away from their supervisor–to say nothing of turning their back on an opportunity to continue their career advancement, based on the structure in place at the department.

    I agree supervisors stating the importance of keeping federal authorities out of the facility should have been a pretty blaring wake up call, as should have been basically falsifying and destroying records. But if ICIB, IA and department execs were on board, who’s some custody boot to say he knows better? The organization (indeed, virtually any organization) doesn’t work that way. Irrespective, there will be consequences for the deps who participated here; indeed, there already have been. After all, how many custody (pre-patrol!) deputies are the subject of federal investigations? Or part of such investigations? Have their names and alleged actions so publicly aired? So, I think they will pay a price, but I think our attention is more productively directed toward the brass, who had the big picture, who had the context, and who made the decisions and gave the directions.

    I *totally* agree with CSN’s analysis that the ending here is, or should be, fairly predictable. It’s ludicrous that people who are the subject of multiple federal investigations would contemplate a run for public office. What’s more ludicrous is that, left unopposed, they could win. So I completely agree that we need a serious opponent in the race and sincerely believe that if that person lined up some quality internal and external supporters, you might see a dramatic shift in loyalties away from the old regime. Such a candidate would also have the added benefit of splitting the Baca/Tanaka vote and giving each’s supporters multiple targets to spend their resources attacking.

    However things land, remember that we have term limits for a reason (albeit not for sheriff) and a contested race is always better for society than a king for life.

  16. CSN83 Says:

    I agree these line and special deputies do need mentors and support in their jobs but they also come with common since. Specialized units are tuff and you are put in those units hopefully because you will do a good job not because you are willing to do what ever they tell you to do, even when it is wrong. Maybe the deputies were kept in the dark on why they were moving the inmate multiple times and that to shall come out.

    Don’t hate me JD for having my opinion about what we are going through. Just like you I come from a different background. And yes I have been put in situations that were illegal and took a different road. Self righteous no, just liked my job. Do you think the public cares that these deputies were in a specialized unit and it was leveraged against them in return for their compliance? Do you have any idea to how that sounds? Not all supervisors are bad but this bunch takes the cake.

    Oh and you mentioned retaliation. Tell me a time when there was no retaliation in one form or another. I cannot name a person I have worked with that has not had some type of retaliation leveraged against them. If you need to be mad at someone be mad at the ones who put us here to begin with, you know their names…

    Maybe this is our problem. We want that special job so bad we will do anything to get it and the administration knows it….

  17. arletha wright Says:

    What you do in the dark will come out in the light. Always be honest even if it cost you your job. Remember God always got ur back. God aint through. When you think u r above the law and above God. This is what happens.

  18. Marc Cooper Says:

    Great story Celeste!

  19. Mountain Man Says:

    The hits just keep on coming for Leroy and Paul. Federal indictments will be the touchstone that makes the upcoming election for Sheriff a, “fair fight.”

    Sadly, the mainstream voters of Los Angeles County have no idea this is going on, or really do not care. They will mindlessly vote for, “incumbent” on their ballots.

    What a mess!

  20. interestedparty Says:

    Please don’t put line deputies with OSJ deputies. Besides for a very few OSJ deputies, they no ack every other line deputy believing somehow when they put on the green jacket and jeans they are above everyone else. I have 0 respect for 95% of the good ole boy OSJ Daddy helped me crowd.

  21. Let's Be Real Says:

    It’s no the incumbent that they’re voting for. First of all,, about 30% of registered voters will even bother to vote. The Sheriff spends an incredible amount of time politicking with influential “community leaders”, Reverends, activists and City Council members. He needs them to tell their flock to get out and vote for “our friend” Leroy Baca. They do. Because he gives them special favors. Badges, guns, reserve status, positions on “advisory boards” and all the other sleazy, slimy ways he can figure out to curry favor with these influential people. The only way this inherent advantage can be offset in a midterm election is if the media in the county finally decide that they’ve had enough of his incompetency and mount a concerted effort to get him defeated. Endorsing a challenger is not enough. They, metaphorically speaking, must “shout from the mountain tops” that Leroy Baca is incompetent and encourage voters to show up and vote against him. Otherwise, get used to Leroy Baca being the Sheriff, the corruption, shenanigans and insanity to continue.

  22. Thanks a lot Says:

    What REALLY blows me away is the balls of the ICIB Sgt.s thinking they could get away with bullying a Federal Agent. On Baca’s/Tanaka’s orders no less, like that will get them out of their predicament they now will surely face!! I hope they enjoy their jail cells.

  23. Time to Clean House Says:

    I think now more than ever during Leroy’s time in office, voters are seeing him for what he really is. Look what happened to his buddy Trutanich. Two failed election bids. Leroy has given so much ammunition to an opponent. Same for Paul. He’s busy playing the blame game. Paul, didn’t you brag being the one running the department while Leroy was globe trotting ? You are just as responsible as some of your former neighbors on the fourth floor for this mess.

  24. The veil has been lifted Says:

    Tanka’s reaction of “MF, MF, I’m surrounding by F—ing idiots,” is a unique insight into the mind of the little man, unhinged and undisciplined. This outburst is consistent with a psychological disorder called, “Intermittent Explosive Disorder.” It is symptomatic of an individual who has very low self-esteem and who is desirous of being seen and perceived as one of ultimate authority and power. Other causes of uncontrollable anger include mental illness. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a psychiatric illness characterized by emotional instability, impulsiveness. Bi-Polar disorder is also symptomatic of temporary bouts of rage and anger. Tanaka feels “entitled” to scream, yell and demean anyone who angers him. It is consistent with a narcissistic personality where he uses people to suit his own goals and needs.

    One who takes pleasure in displaying rage will feel a sense of empowerment that compensates for a life long experience of inadequacy and lack of masculinity. If one resents authority as a child, they will connect the interaction and relationship with a domineering father to individuals they interact with as an adult. Individuals with this disorder often have difficulty in maintaing relationships with women and have been known to revert to physical violence and fits of rage. Pay particular attention how the little man smokes a cigar, it will reveal a great deal of his personality. I think the little man knows the walls are closing in, he has no control over the FBI. No deals to broker, no promises to make, no enticements to offer, no control at all. All the little man can do is wait and worry, wondering when the phone will ring or the sound of a knock on his door. As for Greg Thompson, some cheap advice. When the Feds contact you, take the deal. It will be the only one you will get. Listen to her words and think about about what she says.

  25. Lesser evil Says:

    Hmmm? Even with the Little man out of the office, force goes up. Who will be responsible now? Surely not the Sheriff!? Right?

    http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-deputies-inmates-20130723,0,7610283.story

  26. Jack Dawson Says:

    CSN 83,

    I respect and appreciate your opinion within this forum, and invite you to bring constructive criticisms that forward the discussion of change for the department. However, I take issue with your antagonizing, condescending, poorly written (grammar and vocabulary), and illogical personal attacks upon people who are serving in our department. Your posts are akin to a teenage girl’s malicious and spiteful cafeteria gossip. You are a frequent and active poster that should know by now several people use this site to communicate, organize, and sometimes vent.

    Or you could be like our friend @interested party, who introduces the “daddy helped me crowd” (how profound…) argument. He/she brings up an interesting point pertaining to maturity within our organization, and failed to acknowledge a couple of things. Several of the deputies mentioned in this article are now patrol trained, and are doing extremely well at their respective stations. No one did that for them unless the briefing room has changed. The “ninja nod” is everywhere and it only gets worse outside of custody. OSJ has deputies assigned to tasks for organizations nationwide at the direction of units to include homicide, MCB, Narco, etc… and they do it well even by the admission of Mr. Tanaka in his interview with Mr. David Ono.

    Lastly, I do not think you have had the pleasure of smelling Mr. Tanaka’s breathe during one of his rants, received an email from him implying there are plenty of people who can do your job, or stood before Sheriff Baca while he was perched upon his famous couch. If you had, then you know what it is like to reconsider your adulthood. We know a lot of know these guys and support them, and we reach out to them via this site. They read it….

    Since you are so outspoken and fearless, check in with Celeste and get my bona fides. Maybe we could have this chat elsewhere (email or phone call) or you can take the handle on addressing the fact that two chiefs, several commanders, several captains, and first line supervisors (sergeants) not only signed off on this but participated in the operation. That’s a lot of candidates for ROD and long list of executives of you to speak to.

    That’s what I am “hating on” today. I am looking forward to your comments.

  27. Wild Turkey Says:

    # 20, interested party: You can have whatever personal beef you’ve got with OSJ deputies. That’s your right. And some of the OSJ deputies I know do suffer from over inflated ego syndrome. However, like I said earlier, this article, and the federal investigation into the subject matter, would simply…not…exist if it weren’t for OSJ deputies that worked up the testicular fortitude to call the FBI and say “enough”.

  28. Facts matter Says:

    There seems to be a disturbing common theme about all these stories that everyone seems to deflect. “The tell all, end all.”

    - THE SHERIFF

    He is responsible for ALL this mess (Before Tanaka, and now after Tanaka. What excuse will he use now? For those of you who think the Sheriff will win re-election, think again. LA County residents may be misinformed or uninterested, but they won’t be for this election. Trust me.

    #21- Remember what you posted, and keep it in your memory bank for 2014. There are some who think Pat Gomez or other candidates don’t have a shot for the office of Sheriff, NOT TRUE. LA County will vote for change this election. The power of a democratic society will be proven.

  29. J.London Says:

    Evil: Great post. Baca is responsible for all issues on the LASD. If force goes down, up or sideways it rests at his feet. But, because Baca is corrupt is the MAIN reason why all this cheating, lying and committing of crimes was and is allowed to continue. Why would we develop a force program to cause force to go up? That doesn’t make sense! Why a force program for the force to stay the same? That doesn’t make sense either. The goal is for force to go down! Ass. McDonald stated the reason for the rise was that we are counting the uses now! I’m positive neither one us believes that! Once again she is incompetent and her behavior is consistent with the problems she had at CDC. Ask; if we were jail deps with all the heat that’s on the jail would we be inclined to use force or do our best to stay away from it?

    Jack: For generations the LASD has relied on current and retired members to get new recruits into the Department. Who else better (than us) to know who is well suited for this work? However, since Baca took over this program went straight to HELL! Recall Baca’s nephew getting hired? And how many hundreds of just totally unqualified people we have now on the job! Criminals, gang members and everything else under the sun! That’s Baca’s responsibility and again rests at his feet, the jerk! I know many of the young men hired and their dad’s helped them. Ironically, many of them were quite competent and didn’t need dad’s help. Parents can be overzealous when it comes to their kids. Parents must stay out of their adult children’s lives. Lastly, from my view to answer the question about the “room.” It has changed and changed for the worse. An example would be Herbert who I worked with at Century. Herbert did his job well but he’s not the same man. Herbert assisted in ruining careers and impacting lives at Personnel B. I hope Herbert reads this post and goes back to being the Spiritual man he was!

    Wild: Your post about what we expect from the deps was the best! When we are new we don’t know who to trust and who not to! It wasn’t just the OSJ guys but also the very elite and very experienced Homicide guys that participated in hiding the FBI informant and all of them knew it was wrong! Why didn’t they do what was right? The question of a lifetime. You know the old saying; it takes ten atta boys to make up for one ah S! Right now thanks to Baca, Stonich, Waldie and Tanaka who created this crap hole it’s now up to us to clean it up! I was asked recently “why would anyone wipe their butts when you work in a crap hole?” My one word answer “Hygiene!” We gotta stay clean!

    Hang in there boys we can do this!!

  30. CSN83 Says:

    Sorry Jack, very busy day yesterday. You seem to have no problem going after people who you happen to disagree with. If I chose to voice my opinion about something or someone It is my opinion. Illogical attacks? We all are upset about this BS crap that just” keeps on giving” and instead of you voicing your opinion and moving on you wanna keep coming at me.

    You do not know me or my history. I have no interest bumping chest with you so maybe we can just move forward instead.

    With your comment about all the chiefs, commanders, captains, sergeants that signed off on this my question to you does that make it right ? The deputies that brought this to light are doing what they had to do and in my view the true hero’s . That took a lot of courage and I wonder if those deputies will be the ones that brings this administration down.

    Do you think #20 interested party might be a deputy? Why are you slamming them ? Maybe they know something you don’t…..

    What do you think Jack?

  31. Let's Be Real Says:

    #28 Mr.Facts you have no idea how much I hope you are right. What confuses me is the argumentative tone you have when it’s obvious we are not on opposite sides of the fence. I didn’t say Baca couldn’t be beat. I simply gave my opinion of what it would take for him to be beaten. Did you read the entirety of my post? I have no problem remembering what I posted. It’s in my memory bank. Please forgive me if I’m not overly confident that if Baca runs again he will get beat. Think about it. He’s been a loon, incompetent and corrupt from day one. Yet he’s been elected how many times?

  32. Jack Dawson Says:

    CSN83,

    I appreciate your response and I want you to know I take the call to action seriously. I prefer civil conversations as opposed to personal attacks of people via their real names outside of the board. I’m not scared to come out from behind the mask of our silly little monikers via Celeste and the offer is always there.

    You are absolutely correct that being directed does not dismiss accountability for their actions, but there is a clear distinction between supervisor direction and supervisor participation in this case. ORG #s were pulled, timekeeper violations waved, inmate folders moved by and under the supervision of captains, station captain allowing Anthony Brown, etc… Etc… Etc…

    These guys weren’t doing all of this under a misinterpretation of an order from middle management.

    I’m not the hall monitor and I’m by no means perfect, but I’m not ashamed of my support for some of these young men. Soap boxes and personal attacks are part of this, but you are here more than most. Till we meet again…

  33. Wild Turkey Says:

    When the NYPD went through their painful and drawn out corruption purges, beginning with the Knapp Commission in 1970, the department was dealing with bottom up corruption. That is, a vast majority, according to notable informants (most famously Frank Serpico), of street cops in the NYPD took money. The brass looked the other way, or took money also. Finally, under public pressure, the brass went “ah sh*t” and started cleaning house.

    What we have on the LASD appears to be the exact opposite end of the spectrum. The VAST majority of LASD Deputies are honest cops. There are dirty cops on the line assignments, but they are few, far between, and statistically inevitable in an organization of 10,000. Our brass is mostly crooked or inept. Corrupt, self serving, politicking sycophants intensely obsessed with their own advancement, whatever the moral cost, completely caught up in a group hysteria of self promotion and worship of the twin demagogues in our department, Too Tall and Uncle Leroy.

    A few bright islands of greatness in a sea of mediocrity, but nothing overwhelming.

    What are WE, as the honest foot soldiers of this organization going to do about this? How are we going to take action? Should we be reporting every small infraction committed by our supervisors? Perhaps. It’s a way to purge the brass, and it’s what they do to us. Should we blow up the phones and email in our union offices, and push for a vote of no confidence in Leroy Baca? That might work. ALADS has been weirdly silent on corruption issues.

    I don’t have the answers. Nor do I claim to. I just looked at the situation today and realized, the majority of our department is honest and clean. Our brass is driving this department into the dirt (and a consent decree). It seems like we’re getting past (or should be) the “ah sh*t” phase, where we realize we have no choice but to get the broom. So, what are we, as the silent majority, going to do about it? We need to DO something.

  34. Thanks a lot Says:

    Very well said Wild!!!

  35. nothing Says:

    nice post, Wild. Nothing will happen unless or until some meaningful indictments come in. Leroy has converted most of Paul’s bozos or they have flipped the switch and changed sides. Sue and get promoted. Unfortunately, the goons can still kill careers. Worse, we need a three inch hose with a brass nozzle, not a broom. The hits keep on coming, but the only folks getting served up are line swine. When they deliver some brass ass, I hope the tide will turn. Shucks, Alads might even remember they’re an employee association. A lot of good folks don’t want to stick their necks out. The thrill is gone. The worker bees have been abused so long, they just want to hunker down, do their time, and retire without any more drama.

  36. Facts matter Says:

    Let’s be real- I apologize if my tone, which seemed argumentative. My intention wasn’t negative towards your statement. All I was trying to say is that the Sheriff’s Ship is sinking and sinking FAST. Voters will be well educated and motivated to hit the polls for this one.

    16 years is way too long for anyone to hold office, especially the one in question. Soon, he will realize getting rid of the Undersheriff position will only expose him more for what he is.

    Pat Gomez (or anyone else) for Sheriff.

    Looking forward to it!

  37. Breaking News Says:

    @ Wild Turkey et. al. OUTSTANDING post, you are spot on. Listen up folk, in about two weeks, a new candidate is going to announce his candidacy for Sheriff. This will be an individual whose integrity and dedication is absolutely without question. The silent majority need not be silent any more. Members of LASD will have an opportunity to choose their destiny. A new Sheriff, one we ALL can be proud of, one who will bring back the pride of LASD or, we can stay with a delusional and unethical Sheriff along with his command staff, who will give us four more years of misery, scandal, indictments and embarrassment. It is our choice.

  38. Huh! Says:

    @ #37, BN, I sure hope it is a viable candidate that we can all respect, or someone we already respect. The suspense is killing me! If it is, I will openly pledge my full support, which will probably be the demise of my career, which is fine, because I can live with my current paycheck, but not the current regime!

  39. Chargin'Charlie Says:

    The community expects a professional law enforcement agency but the leadership has delivered something that is more akin to a cult. Operation Pandora is another example of how the LASD has slipped any objective ethical moorings to be responsive to the whims to Baca/Tanaka because they’re the BMOC. Senior leaders feel unassailable in their authority with the freedom to define right and wrong and then re-define it according to circumstances. The rank and file who see their success tied to approval from the leaders follow with little questioning. Is it against the law? Who cares, Mr T says it’s OK. When the leadership is so corrupt that orders endorsing illegal behavior are followed out of self interest and a sense that there is no other choice, it is time for a new leadership.

  40. Viewpoints Says:

    [...] WitnessLA.com has been following the story from the beginning.  For a full version of what they found, and its potential legal implications for the nation’s largest contract policing agency, please click  HERE. [...]

  41. Update please Says:

    Can anyone verify Thompson’s status? ROD, fired, retired, promoted, driving Baca, Tanaka’s campaign manager? Heard many stories without validation.

  42. Wild Turkey Says:

    I cannot verify 100%, but from what I understand, he has been terminated, had his skelly, and is waiting to hear back.

  43. WitnessLA.com » Blog Archive » OPERATION PANDORA’S BOX: Will Hiding a Federal Informant Result in Criminal Indictments for Members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department? | Accessories Says:

    [...] For 18 days in the summer of 2011, members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department reportedly went to elaborate lengths to hide a federal informant from the FBI, an operation that those involved say was approved at the highest levels, including by former-Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, then the department’s powerful second in command, and by Los Angeles Sheriff Lee Baca himself. Despite a grand jury convened to investigate the matter, and a lengthy and ongoing probe by the FBI, Baca and his spokespeople still maintain that the informant was hidden for his own safety. Read more… [...]

  44. killabee Says:

    The very arrogant LASD will have to pay.” Pride goeth before destruction”!

Leave a Comment





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