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Two Sheriff’s Department Captains Retire Under a Cloud – by Matt Fleischer

January 2nd, 2013 by Celeste Fremon

 

SCANDAL-RIDDEN SHERIFF’S DEPT. CAPTAINS CRUZ AND ABRAM RETIRE QUICKLY….AND TAKE THEIR PENSIONS WITH THEM

by Matt Fleischer

Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Steve Whitmore confirmed Wednesday morningwhat sources have been telling us for weeks: Captain Daniel Cruz, a key figure in the jail abuse scandal at Men’s Central Jail, is no longer with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

“Dan Cruz is retired as of January 1st,” Whitmore told WitnessLA.

Cruz had been on paid leave for around a year pending an LASD Internal Affairs investigation into alleged misdeeds during his tenure as Captain of Men’s Central Jail. LASD’s Whitmore tells us he isn’t aware of any finding in Cruz’s case, but sources with inside information on Cruz’s departure tell us that Cruz was scheduled to be demoted to lieutenant, and chose instead to retire as a captain.

As WitnessLA first reported back in December of 2011, Cruz had a key role in allowing deputy on inmate violence to spiral out of control at MCJ. During his tenure as MCJ’s captain from April 2008 until December of 2010, Cruz sat on piles of force packages—often excusing deputy misbehavior after only cursory review, other times tacitly killing the cases by ignoring the requisite investigations until the year-long statue of limitations expired.

According to testimony before the Citizen’s Commission on Jail Violence by LASD Captain Michael Bornman, who worked under Cruz at MCJ, Cruz routinely declined to pursue cases of deputy misdeeds even when they strayed outside the jail walls. In one such incident, according to Bornman, Cruz balked at launching an investigation when several off-duty MCJ deputies got into a drunken fight with a construction worker at BJ’s brewery in West Covina. During the furniture-throwing melee, a deputy punched a woman in the face. Another deputy allegedly flashed his gun. When Bornman approached Cruz with the incomplete administrative investigation into this reported assault, Cruz told him not to “look too hard.” Then when Borman further noted that the 365-day window to complete inquiries into the matter was fast approaching, Cruz was unfazed. Said Bornman of Cruz: “He said, ‘Oh, well. If it drops dead, it drops dead.’”

Additionally, Cruz was one of two captains present when the now infamous fight between deputies broke out during a 2010 Christmas Party at the Quiet Cannon banquet hall in Montebello that left two deputies severely beaten and led to the firing of 6 others. When Montebello police got the call that there was a fight at the Quiet Cannon and went to investigate, it was Cruz who told the Montebello cops that it was a “Code 4,” no big deal, nothing to see here, the sheriffs would handle it.

But the matter was not handled at all and the beaten deputies returned to Montebello two days later to press criminal charges.

That problems occurred under Cruz’s watch at MCJ should have been no surprise. Earlier in Cruz’s career, when he was a lieutenant at Lennox Station in Inglewood, his boss, Commander Ralph Martin and his boss, LASD Division 2 Chief Ronnie Williams, pushed hard to get Cruz transferred out of their area because of his failure to investigate citizen complaints (called “watch commander service comment reports” or SCR’s) against the station. Cruz was as much as 18 months behind in responding to what sources told us were “three massive boxes of complaints” cluttering his desk.

Despite his shortcomings as a supervisor, Cruz was promoted to captain and installed as head of MCJ thanks to his relationship with current LASD Undersheriff Paul Tanaka—who sources say “rescued” Cruz from career oblivion.

When then-LASD commander Bob Olmstead tried to crack down on Cruz in an effort to get a handle on rising force incidents inside the county’s most troubled jail, Bornman testified that Cruz told him: “Fuck Bob Olmsted. I don’t work for him. Lee Baca is my sheriff, but I work for Paul Tanaka.”

Shortly after his promotion to captain, Cruz made two separate donations to Tanaka’s Gardena Mayoral campaign–once on December 18, 2008, and again on January 6, 2009

“None of this needed to happen,” former Commander Olmsted told WitnessLA of Cruz’s seemingly premature retirement and the continued fallout from the captain’s tenure at MCJ. “Misplaced loyalty within the organization can create divisions amongst personnel and the various functions in the organizations. And any time this occurs you have the possibility of serious dysfunction.”

WitnessLA has also learned that LASD Captain Bernice Abram—-also a longtime ally of Paul Tanaka and a routine donor to his Gardena Mayoral campaigns—retired the day before Cruz. Abram had been under investigation for more than a year for her alleged role in a Compton drug ring. According to sources familiar with the situation, Abram was fired from her position, but was able to retire prior to the termination taking effect. Whitmore did not comment on Abram’s alleged firing, but did confirm that she had retired.

Both Cruz and Abram are eligible to receive a normal pension—despite the fact, according to our sources, Cruz was set to be reprimanded with a demotion and Abram to be terminated. “Your retirement is based on your largest salary during a 12-month period,” says Professional Peace Officers Association President Brian Moriguchi. “IA investigations are administrative in nature. Once you are retired, they close. There are no longer any administrative remedies.”

Thus, now that their retirements are a done deal, only a felony conviction could impact either Cruz or Abram’s pension. In the case of Abram, it would require federal charges, as the Los Angeles County DA’s office has already decided not to pursue charges any kind of case against Abram.

Posted in LA County Jail, LASD | 29 Comments »

29 Responses

  1. FURTHER TO FOLLOW Says:

    pray for federal charges. Lord knows we all want to see it

  2. Fed up with Baca Says:

    I wonder what became with Abram’s niece the custody assistant ? She was also suspended. Knowing the way the County works she was probably able to resign from her position.

  3. J. London Says:

    FTF: The boot-lickers will hate us even more; but were we right or what?? What an evil web we weave when we first practice to deceive; isn´t that right,Lee??? Baca, you got to realize that your comrades are going to give you up! Nah! Your just that dumb!

  4. 2bad Says:

    Too bad Olmstead will skate too. His lack of leadership really screwed up the jails. I’m surprised other disturbing facts about the retired commander havn’t surfaced yet. I guess we’ll just have to wait.

  5. Tom V Says:

    I believe the law about job relatedfelony convictions preventing pensions started Jan 1 2013. By retiring Dec 31 Abrams retired before the law and cant lose her pension

  6. Answering The Question Says:

    My prediction is that not a damn thing will ever happen to Abram. She will keep her very nice pension as a retired Captain. Why? Political correctness. Let’s face it, the average LA County VOTER could give a shit less about what Abram did. There is no external “outrage” from the public concerning her crime. There was/will be no INTERNAL pressure from the powers that be in the LASD for charges to be brought. She is well connected. Might as well get used to the fact that she is going to skate, thanks to her connections.
    Now Cruz on the other hand, has a few problems. The ACLU, WitnessLA, the LA media and the public in general do give a shit about what Cruz allegedly did. He let the poor crooks and gangsters get their asses kicked. We all know how the ACLU and WitnessLA and the LA media in general have a soft spot in their hearts for these poor misunderstood wayward children. There will be external
    pressure from outside the LASD for him to be prospected. Then the internal pressure will begin in an effort to throw Cruz under the bus.
    Abram will be sleeping like a baby in the future. Cruz will be sweating bullets.

  7. Answering The Question Says:

    “prospected” LMAO. Should be prosecuted. Thanks type ahead.

  8. Get Real Says:

    To 2bad
    If lack of leadership was a chargeable offense then according to Baca’s last appointment of Hellmold as Assistant Sheriff, everybody at the rank of Chief would be arrested and charged. If he thought any of them were qualified leaders he wouldn’t have bypassed them for somebody of lower rank. Besides last I checked not being a competent leader is not a chargeable offense. Maybe what you’re trying to say, and failing miserably in your attempt, is that you wish “rats” could be charged with a crime. If you got your wish, very few crimes would ever be solved. Go to the market and pick up some fresh grapes. Yours are obviously sour.

  9. Celeste Fremon Says:

    EDITOR’S NOTE:

    I belatedly edited out of one comment the unsubstantiated personal charges. Please watch it with that straight up libelous stuff. It’s fine to attack someone’s work, but not their personal lives. I realize I’ve occasionally unintentionally let some things slide through, but I try to get them all, even when it’s after the fact. (And if I miss something, always fee free to email me privately.)

    Thanks for your cooperation.

    C.

  10. 10-33_Go Says:

    Pathetic.

  11. Answering The Question Says:

    C,
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. It’s really easy to keep from getting your ass kicked by the cops. Chris Rock says the same thing. I’ve got news for you. It’s even easy to keep from getting your ass kicked by the cops if you are in jail. LASD jail deputies deal with THOUSANDS of inmates every day. A handful get their ass kicked. Maybe you should ask yourself why that is. If you get your ass kicked, chances are overwhelming that you did something to draw attention to yourself’ in a negative way concerning the deputies. Do I think the deputies were over the top and acting thuggish? Absolutely. Am I going to lose any sleep over the fact that a crook/gangster got his ass kicked? Nope. Sorry. I’ll leave that to you and the ACLU. You’re doing a fine job of making it an issue and bringing it to the public’s attention. You obviously don’t need my help.
    As for a dirty cop, at the rank of Captain, being in bed with a known gangster and drug dealer and using her position to undermine investigations and possibly put cops lives at risk? I’m a lot more concerned about that than I am a deputy using excessive force on a crook/gangster. Some of those deputies are going to go prison. The Captain will walk away. And live well on her Captains pension.
    That LA County taxpayers pay for. Yet that doesn’t seem to bother you near as much as a crook getting his ass kicked.
    We just see things differently. Have another cup of coffee.

  12. Answering The Question Says:

    BTW,
    I did not say a single word implying that you, or anybody else, does “not care at all about victims of crime” or ” is woefully unaquainted with violence of the street”.
    That was completely uncalled for. I’d appreciate it if you would stop tring to put words in my mouth and giving your readers a false representation of what I said. Just because perhaps I struck a nerve with you I don’t feel it’s professional on your part, nor intellectually honest for you to misrepresent what I said. It’s also deeply offensive that you question my compassion or humanity because we happen to feel differently where certain issues are concerned. I don’t do that to you. I’d appreciate the same respect.

  13. Plain View Says:

    Cruz fell victim to his blind loyalty to Tanaka and to his own personal blind ambition. And in the end, Tanaka “used” Cruz as he has used so many others. I am sorry to say this unscheduled retirement is probably the least of Dan’s problems; the Feds should be his number one concern. Tanaka will turn his back on Cruz when the Feds come knocking, that is very obvious by Tanaka’s statement to the Jail Commission. “I had no knowledge of ANY force issues at MCJ. Not one single Captain, Commander, Chief or Assistant Sheriff ever told me there were any force issues at MCJ. And if any of them say they did, they are a liar.” Stand-by Cruz, Tanaka will throw you under the bus (like he just did) at a blink of an eye to save his own ass. It is well known who you took your marching orders from.

    As Olmsted is reported to have said, “None of this had to happen. None of it.” Hey Tanaka, you must be real proud, eh?

    And Abrams, what a piece of work. Another Tanaka protege who was “hand selected” for promotion by Too Tall Paul. This guy has done more damage to LASD than what meets the eye. The worst is yet to come.

  14. Celeste Fremon Says:

    ATQ, I took my little rant down, written as it was in a moment of pique.

    And, no, you in no way insinuated that I don’t care about victims and am unaware of the violence of the street. I know you know better. Others, however, have, so I got my back up.

    As for Abrams, the only reason we’ve written less about her, is that the LA Times has covered her issue well, whereas the Cruz story is one we broke and have covered extensively, so we have more in depth detail on it. Thus while we always link to the Abram stories, we have done very little original reporting on her as the Times has it pretty well nailed. Plus this whole LASD series began as reporting on the jails, etc.

    Speaking personally, I find the fact that Bernice Abram was not charged by the DA’s office to be utterly appalling, that is presuming that most of what she’s been accused of is true. (Based on what we’ve read and seen, and what I’ve heard privately from a couple of community sources, it would certainly suggest that some or all of it is true, although that may not rise to the level of proof, sadly.)

    Yes, of course actions like those of which she’s accused endanger police officers, and they smash whatever trust the community has for law enforcement AND, in general, run counter to the health and wellbeing of the communities she purported to protect and serve. The fact that she can simply walk away with most of her pension and benefits is outrageous.

    As for our personal differences: How about this: I won’t make assumptions about how you feel, and you won’t make assumptions about what I care the most about. Deal?

  15. Roy Says:

    I don’t know Captain Abrams but as a retired Sgt. with 30 years with the dept. it makes me sick that she will receive her pension…, If only one of the allegations against her were true then she belongs in jail…[Last sentence edited by WLA.]

  16. Answering The Question Says:

    Deal.

  17. J.London Says:

    2bad: You couldn’t carry Bob’s patrol bag! How strange that LASD was ONLY going to demote Cruz? Wow! I guess committing crimes only rates a demotion!!
    AQ: do you have any pertinent comment about the focus of the article? I am interested.

  18. Best is yet 2 come... Says:

    Well I can’t wait for the lawsuit filed by the deputy Bernice had moved ( amongst other things). I hear all the dirty little things the department has hidden up till now regarding her actions are going to be brought to light. From what I hear there is soooo much more not being told both by the Times and the department. I just hope the department doesn’t throw him a bunch of hush money to keep it out of the courtroom…..

  19. FURTHER TO FOLLOW Says:

    thanks j. london I really can’t wait to see the shit hit the fan. unfortunately all these people support families, so their demise will affect all the loved ones. that’s what makes me sick. And the problem, their significant other probably doesn’t have a clue.

    As far as cruz, he dis’d a good wife, now ex. I’m glad she’s laughing now. Dan it all come’s in big circles.

  20. J.London Says:

    Best yet: I forgot about that law suit. I can only imagine what will come out and the usual denial by Baca, Tanaka and having that witless Whitmore blow more smoke. I don’t know the deputy involved but he will need to be very strong because lawyers only care about the money and NOTHING else. Often plantiff’s lawyers will make a deal with County Counsel to give plantiff lawyers more business if they sell out their client and in this case it would be the deputy. Of course they will throw out what appears like a lot of money and then demand that the deputy go away forever and Baca and Tanaka will skate. Just like they tried to screw over Gomez and others. Thankfully many of these cases had witnesses that stood up to the evil. If you personally know the dep let me know. He’s going to need all the inside help he can get!

    FTF: Many years ago I was assigned to the Freemont area of Lennox and ordered to move the street girls out. It was cold, business for the girls was slow and the girls just hated being moved. I’ll never forget the prophetic statement made to me and my fellow deps, “all y’all better stop cuzz what goes around comes around.” I found that statement to be quite true and perhaps now it’s Baca’s turn?

  21. best is yet 2 come... Says:

    J.London: Yes I know him and we all have seen what he has been put through so far.

  22. Denise Phillips Says:

    The department is in a bad place right now and it hurts me to read all this crazy a$$ stuff about the department and how we (deputies/supervisors)are beating the crap out of each other at department Christmas parites and after giving orders for someone to do something (knowing it’s wrong) and then throwing them under the bus as easy as it was to give the order. It’s a sad day and time for the department. I love the LA Sheriff’s Department and always will.

  23. InterestedParty Says:

    It is disheartening to know Abram and Cruz will collect captain-sized pensions from LACERA much as it is that O.J. Simpson benefits from the NFL pension fund. Bernice and Dan are just two examples representing the tip of the iceberg. The submerged portion has several hundred more examples of very bizarre, unqualified and undeserving promotees from the ranks of Baca/Tanaka loyalist. Over the last 14 years, both Baca and Tanaka have rewarded loyalty, not ability, competence and integrity. I remember seeing the first signs of leaks in the dike as early as 2000, and then witnessed continued outrageous examples of people who had no business even being a sergeant, catapulted up two or three or more ranks. Most of us were dumbfounded. The more we saw, the more we realized the integrity of the process was being dismantled and morphed into a fully politicized patronage system. Previously established prerequisites and standards for promotion were eliminated and the new loyalist system was kept secret from all but those selected few Baca and Tanaka wanted to know. Now it appears the dike is nearing collapse and Baca and Tanaka will hopefully no longer control LASD. Until and unless the cronies are routed out of their positions, which is still very uncertain, LASD and its client community will continue to suffer. It was Tanaka who grew these two captains into the full-blown monsters they have become.

  24. FURTHER TO FOLLOW Says:

    In the big scheme of things, all this makes me sick. I don’t ever remember any of this 33 years ago. Things are bad enough enough for law enforcement without this internal alleged criminal conduct.

    On the other hand, it makes for good reading whilst i down my glass of wine, smoke a cigar and polish the coins I have collected and traded over the years… lol

  25. J.London Says:

    Best Yet: If C will accept it please send an email to her and let her know you are waiting for an email from me. When I read on this blog that you have sent the email I will send you the 411. Tell him to be careful but don’t let it get to him. If he is a friend give him support and don’t treat him like he was less than a good man, which he is!

  26. best is yet 2 come... Says:

    J.London: I sent the email… thanks

  27. FISH EYED CUBAN Says:

    HUH?

  28. J.London Says:

    Best yet: on the way tomorrow, Monday

  29. WitnessLA.com » Blog Archive » Sheriff Lee Baca is Named Sheriff of the Year—Perplexing Critics Says:

    [...] to be an ever-widening federal investigation, and have caused an unusual number of department captains and other high-ranking LASD supervisors to be relieved of duty and/or pushed into retirement ahead of probes into their conduct. Added to [...]

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