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Mystery Message in the Sky Over LASD Headquarters

July 10th, 2014 by Celeste Fremon

Around 2 PM Wednesday, just at the time when the Sheriff Department’s executive planning committee was scheduled to meet,
A mystery banner was flown behind a small plane repeatedly over Los Angeles sheriffs department headquarters in Monterey Park.


For those unfamiliar with the term, the Executive Planning Committee, or EPC, is exactly that, the inner circle of command staffers who meet on a regular basis with the LASD’s top brass—the sheriff and assistant sheriff—to talk about the running of the department.

Shortly after the banner appeared a crowd of department members and staffers spewed from the building to gaze skyward and snap cell phone photos.

Rumors circulated quickly about who could have hired the banner-flying airplane, which was in the air a bit over an hour.

Some said it was the LA County deputies’ union, ALADS, which was tired of paying the growing legal bills for deputies who were indicted. (It should likely be mentioned here that, the union has declined to pay any part at all of James Sexton’s legal representation. But that’s another subject altogether. In any case, the illogical rumor circulated.)

Others said it was an ominous warning sent by persons unknown urging department members to return to the code of silence and to cease and desist talking to the FBI “wolves” about any kind of wrongdoing committed by those in the LASD.

Still others said the plane was hired by a group of Tanaka supporters, hoping to protect their man from legal action against him by warning people not to testify or cooperate with the feds against him in any way. (Although how this airborne message would be an effective means of delivering such a warning is unclear.)

Our department sources, however, tell us that these rumors are all complete nonsense, that the banner’s appearance was paid for by an unnamed group of deputies who reportedly work within the LA County Jail system. Their point, as we understand it, was caused by anger that those indicted—and in the case of six of the defendants, convicted—-on the obstruction of justice matter were taking the hit for those higher who gave the crucial orders, all of whom still seem to manage to be in possession of a get out of jail card.

Or something like that.

That’s all we know at the moment.

Posted in FBI, jail, LA County Jail, LASD, Paul Tanaka, Sheriff Lee Baca, U.S. Attorney | 48 Comments »

48 Responses

  1. Wild Turkey Says:

    Love it. It won’t really change anything, but I love it just the same.

  2. Reality Check Says:

    ALADS should not be complaining about footing the bill for any deputy. There are millions in reserve and it all belongs to to members. Sexton was smart enough to avoid the typical ” Dick Shinee” trap.

    For those who don’t know…The 0-3 loser Floyd Hayhurst ( lost president spot @Alads, lost chance to become ALADS executive director and lost chance to give Alads funds to back Tanaka’s reelection campaign for sheriff) personally gave Sexton a bunch verbal B.S. about his dilemma.

  3. Bandwagon Says:

    In my humble opinion the banner is self explanatory. Leaders stand up and and accept responsibility. The Department has been lacking in leadership for many years now. Executive cowardice is alive and well. I applaud the intestinal fortitude of anyone involved in the banner. You have my respect.

  4. Oh Well Says:

    Right on Bandwagon. I couldn’t agree more.

  5. Joe Says:

    I think one needs to be flown over the Feds office!!!

  6. Prophet Mo' Teff Says:

    This is obviously a message directed at Tanaka disciples within the EPC.
    The deputies on trial were the sheep. Their shepard was called as a witness to testify. The resulting verdict – his entire flock was slaughtered.

  7. Happy@LASPA Says:

    The banner is fine from far away, hiring clowns would have been fine also. I ire men’s ureprised that ALADS is sweating Sexton. It’s always some controversial when Hayhurst is involved.
    I remember way back….. when Roy Burns would “clown” Floyd about being a bus driver. (He wasn’t knocking TST, he just shut floyd up, when floyd had war stories.)
    Hope McDonnell brings in fresh talent, come November. I anticipate more retirements from Headquarters.

  8. Time to Clean House Says:

    Interesting around the same time the banner was flying, the website Full Disclosure released more of an interview Todd did during the election. It should be titled Leroy and Paul’s shenanigans.

  9. Bandwagon Says:

    Everyone dreams of telling their boss to f*** off. These guys/gals did it with style. Outstanding!

  10. Jack Dawson Says:

    It was a wake up call for the line, and notice to the entire fourth floor. There were a lot of people who knew about Pandora’s Box.

    ALADS, you got one coming your way too….

    Bravo to the many young deputies who took the handle. You guys’ courage and friendship are what this place is all about. Stay in the fight and thanks for carrying a message many have shied away from for years.

  11. Handicapper Says:

    That would be Baca, Tanaka and their disciples!

  12. KMA-628 Says:

    You know, when I first came to this message board maybe two years ago, I thought Prophet Mo’ Teff’s comments were a little out there. Funny how much I agree with him now. Great analogy about Tanaka’s flock being slaughtered. (It was the deputies who were convicted so far, but there have also been so many resignations and retirements from his Car. Further to follow, I’m sure. That is definitely the vibe at LASD these days, as best as I can tell. Nobody wants anything to do with Mr. T. And beyond that, they see the writing on the wall. The times, they are a’changin.

  13. Starlight Scope Says:

    Sheriff Scott should take heed to the banner and use the “Weed Wacker” and the lawn mower to get rid of all ranking brass who were part of the last regime.

  14. Wild Turkey Says:

    While there is plenty of shame and blame to go around, and I completely agree that much of it lies with the SHB pukes, we must try to remember to stay on target. The US Attorney’s office has the power to go after Baca and Tanaka, as well as other executives who were involved in Operation Pandora’s Box and a myriad of other corrupt activities.

    We have got to keep pressure, in any way possible, on the US Attorney to stop attacking low level whistle blowers who gave them the case they have today. The US Attorney has to actually act in the interest of justice, instead of just trying to rack up stats and wins. INDICT BACA AND TANAKA!

  15. Lonestar Justice Says:


    How else are you going to clean house ? Are you going to let all the dirty deps and admin walk away with their $80k plus retirements after allowing people to suffer ? Do not forget that they took an oath to protect and serve. Allegedly there are deputies slinging dope in the jails, beatings, false paper being written, people being prosecuted on made up charges, etc etc. And you guys say ” Dont feed the Deps to the Feds ? ” LOL….Sheriff needs to investigate and criminally charge these people who did wrong ! If not, let the Feds do it.

    I’m embarrassed for the Department.

  16. Justice Says:

    The thing to be most careful of is a “puppet regime”. Remember that this is now a federal fight and they are used to putting in puppet leaders with an agenda that is not known until years later. The next guy better have the balls to back his Deputies because it’s hard enough to do that job when you have the support of your department. Everything that glitters ain’t gold and just because it’s new doesn’t mean it will work. At least with Tanaka crooks new they could just kill, shoot, stab, or beat cops. That’s a different story now, not saying to keep Tanaka but you better get a damn good replacement. Cause from what I’ve seen the streets don’t respect Long Beach PD or LAPD, so there is reason to see the same fate for LASD.

    It’s not about who’s in power or who takes the fall, it’s about having the right guy at the top who will make sure you get home safe. But it seems everyone forgot that. You used to just fight for your life on a daily basis, now you fight for your career and your family’s well being.

  17. 280D2 Says:

    #15,,,I support your statements. I seems like you are the only one here with some common sense.

  18. Intheknow Says:

    Right on #15!! I agree with you. There are too many sworn in this department from deputies on up to the top who are so dishonest and scandalous. They think because they’re sworn they can get away with everything. They think they are above the law. And most of the time they get away with everything. Not only are there jacked up sworn at Headquarters, they are at the station level also!

  19. The Past Says:

    I think the sky message means several very important things. First it’s a message that says to the Executive and Command staff that comprise the Executive Planning Council, that you have failed in your most basic leadership responsibilities. The second intent is to question that the full weight of the US Justice Department has come to bear on a very young novice deputy, Deputy Sexton, while Sheriff Baca, Undersheriff Tanaka, & other Executives & Command staff are enjoying their unfettered freedom and well paid retirements.
    The sky sign is a bit late and is much like calling for the closing of the barn door after our mustangs have made their escape. The smell lingers but the Baca Boyz have run off. Perhaps the sky sign, with a slight revision, needs to fly over the office of US Attorney Andre Briotte & maybe even Eric Holder.
    In the vane of the breached barn & a western roundup, I’d like Andre Briotte to be our modern day Nate Love and round up our escaped mustangs. Nate was an amazing fellow who, after running 3,000 head of cattle from Texas to Deadwood South Dakota, won the very competitive competition of roping, tied bridle and saddling a wild mustang and various shooting challenges against the best of the west. He was thereafter know as Deadwood Dick and is the most famous black cowboy of all time Mr. Andre Briotte be our Nate Love so we can tip our hat and remember your name forever. In the name of common decency, justice & support for the majority of LASD staff, please place your AB brand square on their backsides,

  20. Cognistator Says:

    #15: The problems you cited have all been recounted in the 1992 Kolts Commission Report, and those problems have persisted unabated since that time.

    That’s a leadership problem, and that’s where the house cleaning should begin.

    Thankfully, it looks like the electorate might do that this coming November.

  21. Oh Well Says:

    Is it just me, or are you beginning to see a pattern regarding #18?

  22. LATBG Says:

    The makers of the banner should not have expected leaders to be found within the EPC. Quite the opposite, based on their pathetic performance over the last dozen years. Every bullshit move by Baca and Tanaka was rubber stamped by this gutless band of slack-jawed, yellow bellied LACERA leaches.

    McSweeney, Abner, Tyler, Barrantes, Goran, Betkey, and every single commander who ever sat in these meetings and sat on their hands, the list is long and distinguished. A quasi-deliberative body that only deliberates on not keeping any records of deliberations, and when called to the stand to testify on what is said, develop collective amnesia. This august body blessed the pay to play scheme, all of the test cheating scandals, the blank checks to private counsel to defend the indefensible, the list goes on and on.

    I wonder if they put that on the resumes they’re preparing?

  23. Starlight Scope Says:

    LATBG: Ironically the names are different but the game is the same….Initially I thought you were talking about ALADS.

  24. Oh Well Says:

    Intheknow #18
    Try letting it go. It will start affecting your health; high blood pressure, lack of sleep etc. Try breathing exercises or yoga.

  25. Just saying Says:

    I agree with number 15 and number 18 100%

  26. Just another poster Says:

    Intheknow should be referred to as “Outtheknow” or “Dontknowsh#t”

  27. proud ole retiree Says:

    Anyone who will be truly honest with his/her self
    will have to agree with 15 and 18. Hell, if I can see it ,certainly every swingin’ d…;k can. get real you folks who would deny what 15 and 18 are saying. i support the likes of IN THE KNOW

  28. Cowboy Says:

    I agree with you 100% “Proud Ole Retiree” those who refuse to see the light are in denial.

  29. Intheknow Says:

    Now, that’s what I’m saying. Number 27 I like your style!!!!

  30. Oh Well Says:

    #27 Retiree,
    Nobody, NOBODY is advocating for letting cops who committ crimes or are “scandalous” slide or get by with their bullshit. There is not one swinging d#%k on this message board who has advocated for that. I challenge you to show me one comment that even infers as much. Perhaps you’re “reading between the lines” or getting misperceptions by misreading the “tone” of the comments.
    #18′s Intheknow’s number one beef is how the sworn staff treats the Professional Staff. With all that is going on right now, with crimes being committed, with the feds choosing to retry Sexton, Intheknow wants to make the topic about how some sworn. are assholes to the Professional Staff and are disrespectful to them.

    #18 Intheknow, if I am wrong about this set me straight. Correct me. Do you want to talk about topic at hand, or would you like to make the topic of sworn being “assholes” the topic?
    You have never mentioned a specific crime or scandal. You have never discussed any specific crime or scandal being discussed by other commenters. What you HAVE done is remind us how sworn are scandalous, how because they are sworn they think they can get away with anything and how they treat the Professional Staff.
    Stop me when I’m wrong.
    We get it. We heard you. Loud and clear. We know.
    18 Intheknow, I’m asking you flat out in order to leave no room for misinterpretation or ambiguity.
    With ALL that is going on right now, do you feel Sheriff a Scott needs to make the issue of how some sworn treat the Professional Staff a top priority?

    Let’s put this bullshit to bed. Let’s cut to the chase.

  31. Oh Well Says:

    Priorities. It’s all about priorities. I don’t think Sheriff Scott should be spending too much time on interpersonal skills in the workplace ( some sworn acting like assholes to the Professional Staff ) when there are serious crimes and scandals he should be dealing with.
    That’s what I’m saying. I’m saying: Yes, there are sworn who are assholes. Sheriff Scott has bigger fish to fry right now. More serious problems to deal with than somebody acting like an asshole. He should be concentrating on weeding out the criminals, not the sworn who are “disrespectful”.

    Agree or disagree?

  32. Bandwagon Says:

    Oh well: How are the yoga classes going? I guess I’m going to have disagree with you once again. I think the Department can walk and chew gum at the same time. Matter of fact, we should be able to clean our own house. If you see a deputy being a jerk to a civilian, confront him or her. They obviously have yet to obtain the maturity necessary to be a good cop, professional, or just a good human being.

  33. Time to Clean House Says:

    Oh well, it might be time to take your own advice in post #24.

  34. Intheknow Says:

    Oh well, you are very wrong you have no idea what I am talking about. You seem to be so concerned with my comments on these posts. Are you one of those who have something to worry about? I had no intention of responding to your inaccurate comments. This is the only time I will only to let you know you are very wrong!

  35. Wild Turkey Says:

    I’ve always operated by a hard and fast rule. Don’t f*ck with the secretaries/professional staff. They can make your life easy or hard! I’m a second generation LASD Dep and I was taught that BEFORE I was a deputy. However, this is not what this thread should be about. Leroy Baca and Paul Tanaka committed crimes, and let underlings take the fall. There are criminals on the EPC level that have not answered for their crimes. Discussion about who is and isn’t rude in the workplace is great to have. But not here. People’s lives are ending. People are going to prison. Perspective.

  36. Oh Well Says:

    The breathing exercises are nice but the yoga classes can’t be beat. They help me with my flexibility, help me relax, and while I meditate it helps me see things clearly. For instance, I had an epiphany after my first class. I realized that for Sheriff Scott:
    1. Weeding out the criminals in our ranks
    2. Learning who the individuals of rank are who have no business at current rank
    3. Restoring the public’s faith in LASD
    4. Ironing out the Civilian Oversight-Inspector General dilemma.
    5. Reducing overcrowding in the jails.

    The above should be his top priorities. It only took me one yoga class to realize this.
    During the second yoga class I had another moment of clarity. I realized:
    Making sure his troops have good interpersonal skills in the workplace and making sure all sworn are “nice” to everybody should be on his list of priorities. Down the list at around at around #30 or 40. Only because of course there are policies already in place to prevent any employee’s interpersonal skills from deteriorating to the point where they become offensive for any reason. Should that happen all the offended employee has to do is follow the procedures of the POE and it will be investigated.

    It is for those reasons why I realized during my moments of clarity that making sure there sworn aren’t acting like Jack-holes to the non-sworn should be far far below putting a policy in place to prevent the on-going traditional abuse of the county car system and using them to reward political loyalty should be placed way above our interpersonal skills in the workplace.
    If you were to take a few yoga classes you might see that are already policies in place for that.
    I still haven’t figured out why WLA or the feds hasn’t made the “Too many sworn are Jack-holes to the Professional Staff” thingy a top priority and investigated it or reported on it.
    That’s still a mystery to me.
    THANKS a bunch for recommending those yoga classes. I highly recommend them to people who like to harp on a topic or make a mountain out of ant hill as I have had a tendency to do.
    Hey, maybe Intheknow should try yoga. Just a thought.
    Thanks again.

  37. Oh Well Says:

    The moments of clarity just keep coming. I realized that you didn’t answer the question I asked in #31. A question that contains no ambiguity. A question that is simple. A question that is straight forward.
    Instead of providing a simple answer, you responded with narrative and sarcasm ( which I do appreciate and enjoy, as in case you haven’t noticed, is kinda my style too ).
    Your refusal to answer the question is noted. What your refusal to answer the question would indicate is left strictly up to each reader’s opinion.
    Those yoga classes are AWESOME!!!!

  38. Oh Well Says:

    Wild Turkey,
    Exactly Wild Turkey. Couldn’t agree more.

    No, I don’t have anything to worry about. Believe it or not I get along great with the Professional Staff. I respect them, socialize with many of them and have never had a problem with any of them. I guess you believe that because I don’t agree with you that it should be a priority for Sheriff Scott or the feds to look into what you obviously consider a major problem, I can’t get along with people. Such is not the case.
    Ok, I’m done with this.

  39. GoMcDonnell Says:

    “OhWell”,unfortunately for you, your handle says it all. Let it go. InTheKnow made a general comment. This has touched a major nerve with you mostly because you have some deep seeded interpersonal communication flaws and it shows hugely by not only the “tone” of your posts, but the content.

    Scrap the yoga classes and try a little empathy. It goes a long way. Redirect the anger and bitterness and commit to being better. You can change a lot by making little difference.

    Tone has a tremendous effect. It conveys sincerity or arrogance. Benevolence or malevolence.

    I don’t know you. Taking a stab at the dark, you are at least the rank of sergeant, maybe even a lieutenant. That’s the scary part.

    Tone is very important. Influential people set a tone. A spirit of which to follow so to speak. Your badly mistaken when you disregard the tone of your message. Be it from frustration of not illiciting the divisive response for which it was intended or simply because YOUR TRUTH isn’t being affirmed. Classic charecteristics

  40. GoMcDonnell Says:

    Characteristics of the “work the grey area”, arrogance of power of the Tanakaites.

  41. Bandwagon Says:

    Oh Well: I did respond to your question. I said the Department should be able to walk and chew gum at the same time. Keep up the yoga classes!

  42. Oh Well Says:

    Go McDonnell,
    Yeah. I’m a Tanakaite. That’s it. I suggest you go back and do a little homework. Reading just a few of my comments in the past would shed enough light on that to light up the Vegas Strip. Your analysis of me couldn’t be further off. You indeed took a stab in the dark. Consequently you missed badly.
    I’ll remind you of how this started. Comments were made that suggested that a major problem with our dept. was how the sworn treat the non-sworn. I said I didn’t believe that should be a top priority when we have ALL the other problems to fix. Deputies are going to prison. That was the topic of the original thread.
    Subsequently I was accused of “Trying to hide the sun with my hand”, “Being in denial” and being a “Jack-hole”.

    Nice try. Agree or disagree were the two answers to the questions. Your further failure to answer it while claiming you did is noted. We’ll try again.
    With ALL the other problems that Sheriff Scott has to deal with right now, do you think how some of the sworn treat the non-sworn should be a top priority for him?
    Yes or No?
    I’m not asking for an analogy. I’m not asking for a cute attempt at avoiding answering the question. It’s a simple question. Why the dancing around it?
    Uh huh. We both know the answer to that now don’t we. If there’s one statement that makes it tough for a person’s ego to deal with it it’s this: “Yeah, you’re right…….BUT…………”
    Now I’m off to my afternoon yoga class.

  43. Oh Well Says:

    While driving to my yoga class I’ll think about what Wild Turkey said in #35. I’ll contemplate what kind of personality trait it is that causes a person to interject their own personal beefs into a conversation about the tragedies happening to others. I’ll contemplate what kind of team player, who loves the LASD, would even bring another, off topic subject up while we were discussing the tragedy of deputies going to prison. I’ll contemplate what it is about a person that would cause them to bring it up more than once.
    Furthermore, I will contemplate my own stupidity for responding and suggesting their beef isn’t a major problem compared to the others we are experiencing right now. I’ll contemplate on why I felt the need to become a sarcastic smartass while responding. My own behavior is indeed lacking. I apologize for any hurt feelings. Most of all, I will contemplate why I’m so selfish that I feel the need to even argue about this topic when something as gravely serious as deputies going to prison should be topic. I apologize for my selfishness and will not argue with anyone or try to explain my position any further for any reason. While people in our LASD family lives are being ruined, while people are going to prison, while there are criminals still in our ranks, it shows a character flaw on my part to even engage in a debate about other things.
    I apologize for my selfishness.
    INDEED WILD TURKEY…. perspective. I definitely lost mine.

  44. Oh Well Says:

    Lonestar Justice,
    I can’t see how retrying Sexton, spending the taxpayers money on another trial is in the furtherance of justice. I don’t think Sexton belongs in prison. He’s paid enough of a price for his low level involvement in Pandora’s Box. Besides, it’s not like it was a 10-2 or 11-1 close call for the prosecution. It was 6-6. When is the last time a case with that split was retried?
    It seems that the feds are now more interested in vengeance than they are justice.
    I think it shows nothing but vindictiveness that the feds are retrying Sexton.

  45. Bandwagon Says:

    Oh Well: Read my post again #32..I started out by saying ” I must disagree with you once more” no ambiguity there! You have too much on your mind. Give the blog a rest for a day or two and recharge your batteries.

  46. Prophet Mo' Teff Says:

    Prosecutors are not bred to moderate their process with compassion and understanding towards a defendant.

    The lion hunting on the savannah will pursue the slowest and weakest zebra. Once they have locked on to their prey, every tactic and advantage is exploited to take him down and lay him out. The defendant who occupies the lowest rung of a criminal conspiracy ladder is the weakest zebra. He should not be surprised when the prosecution moves in for the easiest kill as higher-ups get bypassed.

    There is no simple formula to decide on a retrial by using the vote split from a mistrial. Every trial, every defendant and every jury is unique. Enormous complexity and nuance lies behind the mistrial vote count. Analysis and interpretation is required to decide if a retrial is undertaken and how it will be approached. A 2-10 jury count in one case may yield a retrial, while a 6-6 jury count will silence the prosecution of another.

    The how and what of the U.S. Attorney decision to refile charges on Deputy Sexton goes beyond the individual case. Because of its context and its high profile, Sexton’s retrial will send a powerful and important message.

    If Deputy Sexton is pursued in retrial with no quarter given, no mercy offered – then a clear message goes out which says:
    The FBI does not welcome law enforcement agency whistleblowers. Please do not bring us any more insider tales of systemic corruption. We want to collaborate with you on law enforcement targets. We don’t want you to rely on us for initiating and implementing the internal reforms necessitated by the implosion of your local political mandate. Please find someone else or some other way to repair yourselves. The upcoming jail brutality prosecutions of your deputies were forced on us by you. After all the news coverage of these incidents and after the civil lawsuits and the damage verdicts against the LASD – we had to do something to not appear like idiots.

    The Govt. can choose to send a different message with its approach to retrying Deputy Sexton. It can send a message of self respect along with a message of consideration and measured rationality towards Deputy Sexton and the sincerity of his actions.
    The Govt. can and should offer Deputy Sexton a plea bargain for his involvement in Operation Pandora’s Box equal to the best deal possible had he first come in with his attorney to negotiate a limited immunity prior to sharing any information.

  47. LATBG Says:

    Prophet, great theory except for the part where you don’t know what hand the feds are holding in this card game…

  48. Prophet Mo' Teff Says:

    If I was Deputy James Sexton,
    (based only on the information and events publicly available to date),
    I want the Pandora’s Box charges against me refiled by the U.S. Attorney and I want to plead guilty and I want to do Federal Prison time.

    Now that the guilty verdicts of the 6 other LASD Pandora’s Box defendants are on the record, I do not want an immaculate exit for myself from the entire affair.

    I do not want to star as the defendant in an encore performance of my original mistrial.

    I don’t want to be known as the deputy who contacted and cooperated with the FBI and the Grand Jury over improper deeds(which have resulted in Guilty verdicts for 6 cohorts) at LASD and then argue to a jury that my participation in those deeds was completely legal.

    I want the record to reflect my judgement and actions were caught up in the matrix of the deluded Baca/Tanaka system.

    I also want the record to reflect that I was able to throw off the 3D bizzaro Baca goggles, gained a clear and ethical perspective and reformed my behavior accordingly.

    I want the record to allow me to look in the mirror each day and have respect for the person I see. I want the record to allow members of LASD and members of any other law enforcement agency to have respect for me and I want the opportunity to interact with them in the future without prejudice held against me.

    If I was Deputy James Sexton,
    I want to plead guilty
    and I want to serve a solid 12-18 months behind bars.

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