Aero Bureau Aero Bureau Noir

AERO BUREAU NOIR, Part III: Enter the Feds

LASD Sea King 2010, courtesy of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department
Celeste Fremon
Written by Celeste Fremon

In Part I and Part II of Aero Bureau Noir, WitnessLA’s 3-part investigation into alleged wrongdoing in the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department’s elite aircraft unit, Aero Bureau, the department had just replaced their fleet of Sikorsky Sea King helicopters, which had been on loan to them from the Navy for more than a decade. This meant the LASD was required to return six Sea Kings they had borrowed at no cost from the feds, along with a pile of expensive extra engines. Specifically, everything was to go back to Marine One, the helicopter program for the President of the United States, for use in their training program. Mike Stille, the internationally known Sea King expert, was the middleman hired by the Navy for the transfer. Everything went fine until Stille noticed troubling irregularities in the returns and began to think that the top people at the LASD’s Aero had concocted a very profitable plan to cheat the aircrafts’ government owners. When Stille’s suspicions morphed into certainty, a former colleague convinced him it was time to call the FBI.


Former LASD Sea King at Clayton

The FBI—and the LASD—Investigate

At the time that Dave Rathbun and Mike Stille began discussing the idea of calling the feds, the Los Angeles office of the FBI was already three plus years into its own criminal investigation into brutality and corruption by members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

And, as it turned out, Rathbun’s LASD deputy son, Mike Rathbun, had already spoken to the feds multiple times as whistleblower. This came about after the younger Rathbun and his deputy partner, James Sexton, had witnessed what they believed to be serious wrongdoing by a deputy and a supervisor when they worked in the chronically-troubled county jail system. But when they tried to report what they knew to the appropriate parties at the LASD, they began receiving convincing threats. Eventually, the pattern of threats widened to include their family members, which meant that Dave Rathbun began having conversations with the FBI as well.

So, yes, Dave Rathbun knew whom to call.

But before laying the matter at the feet of the FBI, he felt honor bound to first notify the proper person in the Sheriff’s Department.

Thus on August 28, Rathbun drafted and sent an email to Chief Edmund Sexton of the Homeland Security Division of the LASD, which oversaw several of the department’s specialized units, Aero Bureau among them.

“Chief Sexton,” Rathbun wrote. “I send you this email because I don’t want you to be blindsided by some very troubling information that I have been made aware of….”

By the end of the following day, August 29, 2013, Sexton sent a formal request to Captain Alicia Ault of the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau asking for an investigation to be opened into the actions of Cpt. Louis Duran, Lt. Robert Wheat, and Sgt. Casey Dowling.

As for the potential violations that necessitated the investigation, Sexton wrote:

*Obedience to laws regulations and orders
*General behavior
*Performance to standards.

No Return Needed?

LESO rules and restrictions

Along with the formal request to IAB, Sexton included a package of documents, which included a long letter from Casey Dowling to LASD higher-ups about the status of what he described as the “spare parts.” In the letter Dowling said that all the Navy’s property that they were supposed to give back had indeed been returned via Stille. They did, he admitted, keep six engines that they “weren’t required to return.” But all the rest of the engines, gear boxes, and tail or main rotors had gone back, according to Dowling.

Yet, according to piles of paperwork in Stille’s files, including email exchanges with LESO officials, a careful examination of the equipment picked up and brought to Clayton, and eyewitness observation by others about what items Aero Bureau still retained in its possession, the idea that everything that the Navy had requested had been returned, reportedly was not plausible.

In another, earlier email, Dowling assured head maintenance guy, Dennis Thompson, that the only thing that Aero Bureau was required to do for the Navy was to return the right number of items, never mind their provenance or condition. Furthermore, Aero Bureau had the “obligation” to “recoup as much of the sheriff’s moneys as possible” that they had “already spent” to maintain the Sea Kings.

Dowling ordered Thompson to “please move forward” with the deals with vendors like Rotor Max and others, who would agree to give the department non-useable parts—in addition to payment in the form of “maintenance credits”—so that the aforementioned right number of items could be returned to the Navy.

Additional documents show that Thompson indeed made the deal with RotorMaxx for a credit of $652,000.

Near the end of Sexton’s package there was a printed copy of the rules and restrictions of the LESO program, which seemed to directly counter Dowling’s claims that it was fine to keeping the six good engines and sell them for credits to anyone who would pay the price and go along with the deal. The LESO document stated, in part:

“Property may not be sold, rented, exchanged, leased, bartered, used to secure a loan, or stockpiled for later use.”

Also, “The receiving agency is responsible for all costs associated with the property after it is transferred.”

In other words, one does not get to sell or barter Navy property to recoup the money spent on routine maintenance and repair on the extremely valuable aircraft and equipment one has been using for free for years.

Special Agents

Bad engine data plate

After he’d given the sheriff’s department time to make their move, Rathbun dialed Special Agent Leah Marx, and told her in detail what Stille had discovered.

Marx (who has since married and is now Leah Marx Tanner) was the lead agent on the existing LASD investigation. According to Rathbun, Marx said that financial wrongdoing wasn’t her expertise. “But I’m going to call a guy who does exactly this kind thing.”

The person Marx contacted was Special Agent Jonathan “Casey” MacDonald (who went by Casey). Soon both he and Marx were talking to Stille.

On December 4, 2013, the LASD investigators learned that the FBI was now on the case. As a consequence, the internal affairs probe screeched to halt, and the top three people at Aero Bureau during the engine swap period were relieved of duty by the sheriff’s department—namely Sgt. Casey Dowling, the guy who sent the email to Stille barring him from coming on sheriff’s department property, Lt. Robert Wheat, the operations lieutenant and second in command, and Captain Louis Duran, the bureau’s loyalty-obsessed commanding officer.

“They even fingerprinted the switched number plates…”

In 2014, Agent McDonald flew to Clayton headquarters in Peachtree City where, with a local FBI agent, he photographed the junk engines and the bad fuel controls, while Stille gave them a tutorial about what they were seeing.

“They even fingerprinted the switched number plates,” said Stille.

Who benefits?

Request from President’s Program to LASD for helicopter & equipment return

According to both Rathbun and Stille, the FBI’s concern escalated when they learned that these bad parts masquerading as good parts, were headed for the Marine One presidential program.

“I had to talk them out of the trees, a little,” Stille said. “I explained that although the engines were going to the presidential program, none of those engines would have wound up on the president’s personal aircraft.” They were slated to be used on training aircraft for the program.

Nevertheless, the agents were off and running. They contacted Croman and the Navy, and a list of others.

Croman’s Korey Kaufman said he talked to the feds several times, including once when he visited Stille in Peachtree City. “And we told them,” said Kaufman, “that we were the victims too.”

“At one point they were waiting for him to fly into the U.S. and they were going to seize him…”

The FBI was particularly eager to talk to Jeremy Brown at Rotor Maxx. But Brown was a Canadian, which meant various kinds of permissions were involved.

“At one point they were waiting for him to fly into the U.S. and they were going to seize him,” said Stille.

Eventually, the FBI did wind up, metaphorically, on Brown and Rotor Maxx’s doorstep, as Stille had warned they might many months before. But the actions of a Canadian company were not really what most interested the LA feds. It was the people at Aero Bureau.

Yet, as the investigation moved on during much of 2014, according to the feds, there was one large puzzle piece missing.

“Casey told me they still couldn’t find evidence of personal gain,” said Stille.

The feds wanted to know if money had found its way into anyone’s individual pockets. Although many familiar with the case of the switched engines felt someone at Aero Bureau had to be getting something out of the deal.

“Why take the risk of defrauding the federal government, if you weren’t getting something out of it?” asked one LASD source.

Certainly $10,000 could have changed hands between RotorMaxx and Louie or someone without leaving any trail, said a source we spoke with. And there were other suspected ways that remuneration might have taken place.  “But how would you know if that happened or not?” And how would you prove it?”

It was also possible, said several Aero Bureau sources, that Duran and company simply wanted a slush fund they could draw on for bureau wants and needs without going to the county for approval.

In any event, despite ongoing suspicions, finding and proving personal gain became a sticking point, and gradually the Aero Bureau investigation began to slow down.

It didn’t help that, as 2014 ended and 2015 began, back in Los Angeles the feds’ interest was increasingly hyper-focused on gathering the evidence and witnesses needed to charge and try the former undersheriff, Paul Tanaka, and after him the former sheriff, Lee Baca.

Finally, on April 13, 2015, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brandon Fox—who was the lead prosecutor on the majority of the cases that the feds were bringing against members of the LASD —wrote a letter to Special Agent Casey McDonald officially “declining” to file charges.

When Casey McDonald told Stille that the FBI had decided to drop the case, he reiterated that their inability to nail down who personally profited was the stumbling block.

A source close to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, told us the same thing. They couldn’t pursue everything. The feds have bosses too. And, without finding the personal gain, the investigation lost its…well….punch.

Another source reported that one of the prosecutors put the decision not to file this way: “Look,” said the prosecutor, “there are only so many hours in the day.” They have human limitations too, the government lawyer said.

The State Department Takes a Turn

Receipt from Rotor Maxx to Aero Bureau

Interestingly, although the local feds dropped the investigation, agents from the investigative wing of the Office of the Inspector General in the State Department picked it up. And, in February 2016, Special Agent Samuel C. Brown contacted Stille.

Again, there was a flurry of action, mostly aimed at Rotor Maxx’s involvement with the allegedly fraudulent engine switch, but part way through 2016, this new D.C. based investigation also seemed to lose energy.

Once the feds had finished their probe, the LA County Sheriff’s Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau, could re-start their own investigation, which had been on hold since December 2013.

But later in 2016, LASD’s internal affairs too ended their investigation according sheriff’s department spokeswoman, Nicole Nishida. As for the outcome: “The conclusion cannot be disclosed,” she said.

Aero Bureau Goes to Court

Air 5 Sea King hoisting frogman, courtesy LASD

There was one more strange plot twist still to come in the saga of the vanishing engines. Prior to the end of the IAB investigation, Louis Duran, Casey Dowling, and Robert Wheat—along with five other department members unrelated to Aero Bureau—filed a lawsuit against the County of Los Angeles alleging that former sheriff Lee Baca retaliated with extremely harmful consequences against each of them for their support of former undersheriff Paul Tanaka’s 2013-2014 candidacy for sheriff.

(Pre-indictment, Tanaka ran for the position of LA County Sheriff and made it as far as the November 2014 runoff.)

County lawyers asked the Aero Bureau three about the engine swap, but the county people weren’t terribly well informed on the byzantine Sea King issue, and their questioning was ineffective. Duran denied any but the most vague knowledge of the matter. When it was his turn, Casey Dowling cried on the witness stand due to the pain he said, he experienced after being relieved of duty. Bob Wheat generally left emotion out of it.

On December 15, 2015, after a trial that was nearly a month long, a federal jury found in favor of the plaintiffs.

Duran, Dowling, and Wheat each received $120,000 in damages, plus attorneys fees of over a million dollars.

Louis Duran, Casey Dowling, and Robert Wheat are now retired from the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and collecting pensions. In addition, Duran and Dowling have a new jobs. Wheat retired in March, but we don’t know what he is doing at the moment.

After the various investigations were over, according to Brad Gage, the men’s attorney—during the civil trial and now—the three were returned to duty in good standing at the LASD. Gage also told us emphatically that his three clients had been cleared of any wrongdoing by three different agencies.

As for Rotor Maxx, Jeremy Brown, who was the firm’s founder, is no longer with the company and was reportedly forced into a buyout by his partners, in part because of the Sea King engine debacle.

EPILOGUE: Unsettled

Mike Stille

Many inside or close to Aero Bureau continue to feel unsettled by the outcome of the Sea King situation.

According to one pilot, who was familiar with the details of the Rotor Maxx arrangement, actions such as passing off bad fuel controls for good ones, and switching the data plates from the good engines to the junk engines, were truly dangerous.

“You don’t tamper with serial numbers. You don’t tamper with the logs for parts, you don’t tamper with what’s ‘serviceable’ and what is ‘not serviceable.’ You don’t ever do something like that,” he said grimly. “It’s crazy! What if one of those parts had wound up on a plane?”

What if Stille had not caught what he caught?

A few years ago, IAB investigations into whistleblower allegations were routinely quashed during the period when Louis Duran’s mentor, Paul Tanaka, had control of both the Internal Affairs Bureau and Internal Criminal investigations Bureau (ICIB). But why did this most recent IA investigation come to nothing? some of them wanted to know.

Mike Stille put it another way.

“The bottom line,” he said, “is that the choices and actions” by certain people in Aero Bureau “hold in contempt the good will of the Navy to loan the use of Navy aircraft and engines for all those years.”

“Look,” a pilot whom we spoke to this week said, “eighty-five percent of the guys at Aero Bureau aren’t like that. We just want to go to work, and do the right thing, and do a good job protecting and serving the residents of Los Angeles County. We love what we do. We keep showing up.”

As for Duran and company?

“Let’s just say that we’re glad they’re gone.”

NOTE: If you haven’t read AERO BUREAU NOIR, Part 1, you can find it here.

Then go on to AERO BUREAU NOIR, Part 2: The Magical Data Plate Switch right here.

LASD Sea King courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Crime Report is co-publishing a slightly condensed version of this series with Witness LA.

LASD Sea King courtesy of LA County

This series was made possible with the generous support of the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

NOTe: Updated on May 1, 2017, 6:15 p.m.


  • Also, if your intent is to defraud the Federal Government, does personal gain have anything to do with it? It is obvious that over 600,000 dollars in maintenance credits was gained at the expense of Marine One.

  • Clearly, criminal acts of theft and fraud occurred regardless of where the money ended up. Why the feds would not prosecute was probably decided on a aircraft tarmac somewhere in the middle of the night.

  • Glad it worked out for the fellas. It’s already been investigated and cleared. God bless due process. You old coots should be playing golf and enjoying retirement. Instead, you spend your time conspiring and providing information to the viper who runs this blog. SMH

  • Sadly, neither LASD nor the FBI got it! The benefit wasn’t hard money in currency or coinage. The CURRENCY was the engines and parts. And future job and career help in exchange of material parts at taxpayer expense. One aspect of corruption is always looking down the road and when you are a corrupt suck butt you will do anything to enhance your chances with the boss or future prospects. The theft was from the taxpayers by stealing from all of us who pay taxes. Not to mention endangering the lives of anyone who had mistakenly used the ruined motors. This was a plain old Fraud case.

    Example;we all use a patrol car that isn’t ours but lent to us to use for our job. We go home and remove the brand new engine, put in an old beat up engine and survey the patrol car or donate the car to a charity. Then sell the new engine back to Ford as a credit. If you note NO MONEY has been exchanged. Then after you retire you get a job with Ford or some affiliate like in the case of Louie Duran. Remember when Tanaka sold an old beat up patrol car to a foreign country and added outdated(I wonder if the vests weren’t brand new) bullet resistant vests?

    As far as the guy crying on the stand what a crock. The trio of deputies were saying that they didn’t know it was wrong to return bad engines (for good engines)and switch plates? Why didn’t LASD proceed administratively? The system of corruption had taken hold from the first day that Baca, Stonich, Waldie and Tanaka took over. From exchanging cars for a bottle of wine, free tickets to sporting events, giving out answers to promotion tests, framing good people for misconduct that didn’t happen, perjury if Federal Court, visiting child prostitutes in Juarez Mexico and on and on. Yes, we are all glad they are gone. But, the Baca stench is still there and just because we sprayed spring lemon odor mist around the toilet didn’t change anything.

    Add’ so where are the new engines and parts or did I miss it?

    Last, a shout out to Dave Rathbun and family. Take care my friend!

  • Celeste, as always, great job on this series. A few questions that are unable to be answered, but enough answers to answer most of the questions. Duran, what a piece of work. The photograph of him in his new position linked in this article is absolutely iconic, a picture speaks a thousand words.

    One has to question if anyone was ever held accountable, administratively, on any of this? Was “direction” given to IAB during this investigation? Was it a good investigation, no rock left unturned? Maybe, maybe not. Parts magically swapped, vin plates swapped? Nothing to see here folks, move along? And who were the decision makers on this admin case? Chief Mannis, the seeker of truth? Did any of the folks from IAB ever promote, looked upon as team players? If nothing was there, then nothing was there. But if the facts were there but overlooked, questions not asked, glossed over, pages turned, that is another story. And what about Fresh Eyes? I would think someone in the media would hold his feet to the fire and ask questions. Make him say, “I personally reviewed the entire IAB investigation and there was no violation of policy. I am happy with the investigation.” There is no violation of privacy to say that, to the contrary. Aero Bureau and LASD deserve closure on this. Those who were ROD deserve closure and their reputation restored, if that is in fact due. Lots of questions. If 85% of Aero Bureau are good folks, who are the 15% remaining that are not? What is that story because 15% is a cancer large enough to bring more harm to Aero. Clean house. But it appears, nothing has changed, has it. Fresh Eyes, what does that term mean anymore? Maybe it’s just a throwaway line someone utters during an election.

  • Unknown, now someone is speaking up. Thank you for info. I know of a handful of Deputies who won their appeal in civil service, ordered all back pay and back too work. Make sense why these Deps are still at home not only after winning in civil service, they have also won in superiour court. The Department continues to appeal after appeal rather than respecting the courts decision. Some of theses Deps at home is nothing more than punishment from Department, dept even tried to keep deps from being notified re past Sgts exam which they were entitled to take. One of these deps at home has a big case on the county. Sometimes enough is enough.

  • Whenever I lose faith in humanity. ….someone always does something nice and restores my optimism. Hasn’t happened yet, but the day is not over. Perhaps our expectations we place on our leaders are too high. Ideally, we want people we trust to lead us. We want them to be fair and unbiased. We want them to have integrity and the strength of character to do the right thing. Quite often we are disappointed and our sense of right and wrong becomes warped and jaded. The leaders on our Department have failed us. We know who they are as there names are constantly mentioned on this Web site. Their legacy will continue to haunt this organization for years to come. Our saving grace is we know who we shine our badges for brass buttons and all…….

  • Sounds like IAB and ICIB did their usual deal with Mannis in charge, studiously look the other way and ignore misconduct because of the FOS’s involved. Mannis should resign immediately in disgrace, because this Aero deal is just one of so many that involved railroading good people and turning a blind eye when called upon by the higher ups. How many sergeants, lieutenants, and captains who were forming IAB/ICIB investigators are dirty? I’m pretty sure they will all claim “not me” of course, and each one had their own special little way to rationalize their unethical conduct that enabled the Banaka regime to continue their destructive course unimpeded.

    The good thing about this story is the time line. It ties McDonnell to the whitewashing of the case, as the final decisions were made on his authority. I understand the feds need to establish who gained financially from the deal, but the department’s extremely loose standards of “performance to standards” should have heads rolling all over the place. Instead, we have Fresh Eyes McDonnell chopping off lowly deputy heads left and right, just to make a high body count for the press to report on.

    You are a pathetic man, McDonnell. I have zero respect for you, and I look forward to seeing you become a one term wonder.

  • LATBG, you hit in the head. We all know Baca and Tanaka were bad. The problem is it continues under McDonnell. Like Unknown posted, McDonnell was in charge of long beAch when that officer got done dirty and he went right along with it. It cost the city of Long Beach 1.7 million dollars for his incompetence. Wait to you see all the lawsuits coming against him and this depArtment now. Maybe when some of these commander and chiefs going along with everything get sued they will stand up against “fresh eyes” and his liberal CPA. Our upper management have no spine.

  • Our upper management have no spine because they all want to look good in front of fresh eyes and get that next bump. I believe Alicia Ault was the Captain of IAB at the time. She is now a Commander

  • IT is truly sad to what has happened to what was once an honorable organization. Perhaps the lower level officers have better ethics and will eventually replace the Baca, Tanaka appointees.

  • This further explains the “taunting” interview of Michael Rathbun (son of David Ratbun) that went viral through- out LASD after being arrested by LASD for supposedly drunk driving. Connecting the dots is very easy with everyone involved tying Aero Bureau directly into Pandoras Box. Shit List 》Baca, Tanaka, IAB, ICIB, ALADS and many many more.

  • If the valuable unused helicopter engines were bartered to a private firm in exchange for some salvaged parts and a large credit balance to use in future purchase of goods/services,
    and if this transaction is not recorded on regular books of LASD or L.A. County,
    then actual illicit proceeds can be collected when the credit balance is used to purchase goods/services benefiting an entity that is not the Sheriff Dept.,
    or when the Aero Bureau uses a dummy vendor/contractor to bill the County for helicopter goods/services actually provided by the canadian company and paid for with the existing credit balance.
    obviously, things never got to that point because the crooked parties knew they were being watched.
    So what ever happened to the $640,000 barter credit that Aero earned through the conversion and transfer of federal property to rotormax?
    The credit was probably cancelled after U.S. authorities informed rotormax they had purchased stolen property, which they probably quickly and graciously assisted U.S. authorities to reclaim.

  • Its easy to see why authorities were reluctant to prosecute individual wrongdoers in this case for the sake of avoiding the predictable political repercussions.
    There are some who stand opposed to arrangements that lend/donate surplus military equipment to domestic LEO’s under all circumstances.
    Allowing the LASD Aero scheme to make headlines via criminal prosecutions would have become much welcomed by those seeking to curtail all such programs.
    In addition, even the honest parties to the arrangement which provided Sea Kings to LASD would suffer negative publicity.
    Firstly, because it was an insider connection deal to start.
    No other LEO’s were given an opportunity to apply for the Sea Kings.
    The strict rules of the program were slightly manipulated for the benefit of LASD, and LASD only.
    Once transferred to Aero Bureau, the Sea Kings were placed in service. The many search and rescues participated in generate positive publicity for LASD and for the military eqiupment to LEO program overall.
    However, any pursuit of criminal prosecutions at Aero Bureau would have placed the flight logs under a microscope.
    The entire dept. would endure negative PR from exposure of flight hours spent on improper and dishonorable missions.
    Such as serving as an air taxi at the behest of connected individuals.
    And smuggling interdiction where the amount of confiscated contraband is never made exactly clear (catalina island – march/april 2010)
    And reverse search and rescue operation,
    when a dead body is transported and dropped off at a remote location for subsequent discovery( June 2011 – renata klein, dusan klein)

  • Outstanding….very insightful on the unethical decision making process which affects many oranizations….law enforcement in particular…

  • Celeste, you should have posted a warning at the beginning of these articles. “Do not read if you expect a happy ending.” This is, after all the Baca, Stonich, Waldie, Tanaka and now McDonnell LASD we are talking about.

    I should have known.

  • C: It would good for all concerned if these questions were answered by the current sheriff? Or is this it and the case dies here?

  • We can make a happy ending to the story of the LASD. All it takes is men and women of good will to take our department back from the self-serving opportunists and gutless wonders who are busy polishing brass snaps as the car goes over the cliff.

    McDonnell failed to realize that the glue that kept our department together all these years is our willingness to do the Lord’s work with a fraction of the staffing of LAPD. That work ethic is disappearing as the career decapitation policies of Fresh Eyes is forcing deputies to act like firemen – handle your calls and nothing more.

    The CPA attorney, an OIR retread who is ethically challenged, needs to go along with the rest of the Banaka crew. You know who you are. You’ve done enough damage to last decades, so don’t think the stars or bars you wear absolve you of your sins. Go humbly and collect your unearned pension if you have any measure of self-respect.

  • Is it a coincidence or conspiracy when you look at the “degrees of separation” between Tanaka who was at odds with Sexton Sr., Rathbun Sr., and Lindsey Sr. Their sons (James, Michael and Robert) of whom were deputies were singled out and totally ignored by ALADS. Add it up.

  • It clearly appears there is enough preponderance of the evidence to suggest the “fresh eyes” Sheriff and his second in command, the CPA, (DT) are out of control chopping lowly ranking deputies’ heads to create stats. The spineless deputy sheriffs, with the fancy titles of Assistant Sheriff, Undersheriffs, Chiefs, and commanders just sit on the HOJ 8th-floor applauding and cheering on, waiting for their next bump. They don’t want to upset the queen running CPA, because she has “fresh eyes” under some weird spell. They are afraid she can send her squads from ICIB and IAB on them, as we all know, those deputies with fancy titles on the 8th floor have skeletons in their closets, remnants of the Baca/Tanaka regime.
    The question then is, why if we all suspect that ICIB and IAB are nothing more than subjective enforcers, operating under orders to clean or dirty a deputy, investigate? Shouldn’t deputies’ investigations be contracted out, say to the investigators on news organizations? I have more faith in them that this so-called Police of the Police.
    It appears then, that priorities have changed, before work in the gray, take criminals to jail, now work in the gray, take deputies to jail. The problem is they only take little deputies, on cases that cannot cause too much embarrassment to the organization, the ones who cannot make too much noise. What about putting a case on the guy on the 8th floor who wrote the NCCF policy, regarding inmates holding contraband in their body cavities, which later was to be found unconstitutional? Instead, they put cases on the little deputies with no stars on their collars.
    I am now talking to you all unhappy nurses, Custody Assistants, Deputies with no fancy title, maintenance workers, cooks, any of you who are being victimized by this regime to fight back. It is time to start contacting attorneys, willing to take on this massive breach of trust and abuse by the current regime.
    The following is a dramatization, which may resemble a real situation which is a mere coincidence.
    Deputy Doe is working module 4300 at Men’s Central Jail, an inmate complains of a medical emergency. The inmate has always been cooperative and friendly with the deputy. The inmate needs to be escorted by two deputies per jail policy. The facility is understaffed and there is no other deputy available at the time to assist. Deputy Doe concerned about the inmate health, coupled with the fact the inmate has been always cooperative, makes the decision to take him to the main clinic by himself. When they arrive at the Western/Baker to Vegas hallway, the inmate became upset and hits the deputy in the face with his fist. Deputy Doe reacts to the inmate assault and takes him to the ground, the inmate becomes more aggressive and continued hitting the deputy in the face with his fists. Deputy Doe in fear for his life uses his flashlight and strikes the inmate in the head at which time the fight ends.
    In the above scenario, CPA will recommend the deputy be charged with 664/187PC, attempted murder on the inmate. She will argue the deputy violated jail policy and was not interested in providing the inmate with medical assistance, she will argue Deputy Doe intended in assaulting the inmate and used the medical emergency as an excuse. The fancy deputy sheriffs on the HOJ 8th floor will shake their heads in agreement. The ICIB get orders from the fancy deputies with stars on their collars to make a case against the deputy, which they oblige. The ICIB sergeants, manipulate, distort the evidence, exaggerate statements, and twist the reality, and create a narrative consistent with the queen’s wishes. “Fresh eyes” is happy and impressed, then the ICIB find a willing DA deputy, friends with the queen willing to file a case against Deputy Doe. The deputy gets arrested, later bails out on $500,000 bail bond. Several months later, after lots of pain and suffering, financially broken, and his family destroyed, deputy Doe is acquitted of the crime by a jury.
    The department then send IAB, now looking for a violation of departments policy. The deputy eventually gets reinstated after appealing his firing, however, gets 30 days without pay, because, he violated jail policy, was charged with a crime (fake crime) and did not have his brass buttons on, which could have help in the prevention of force.

    A single man unit 216A day shift gets a call, 459A at La Mexicana Market, at the corner of Firestone Bl and Holmes Ave, in Firestone Park, it is about 0530 hours and 216A is beginning his shift. Single man unit 217H is an early morning unit and about to get off, however, gets the assist on the above call. Unit 216A has gone to the La Mexicana Market several times in the past, and the call has always been a false alarm. With that in mind 216A advises 217H who is about to get off he will handle the call and advise if assistance is needed. Unit 216A arrives driving eastbound on Firestone Bl and parks just west of the location. As unit 216A is exiting the patrol vehicle, a suspect holding a brown bag in his left hand and gun in his right hand comes running out of the store via the front shattered glass door. The suspect sees the deputy, 216A and points the gun at him. Unit 216A fearing for his life shot at the suspect and killed him.
    The queen at CPA demands the deputy, 216A be charged with an 187PC, murder on the suspect, she argued the deputy knew he would eventually run into a suspect and wanted to be alone to kill him. The queen argued that unit 216A wanted to get the Century Station tattoo with a smoking gun and that was the reason he went alone, expecting to run into the suspect to kill him. The fancy deputies with stars on the collars at the HOJ, on the 8th floor, nod their heads in agreement, knowing “fresh eyes” will be pleased, and soon they will be promoted and given more stars.
    The stars wearing deputies ordered ICIB to make a case on unit 216A, which they oblige. The ICIB sergeants, manipulate the evidence, distort the truth to fit their narrative. They then go shopping for a DA deputy willing to file charges. A DA deputy of questionable reputation agrees to file charges on unit 216A. The deputy gets arrested, booked and eventually makes a $1000,000 bail. Many months later, after lots of pain and suffering, after considering taking his own life, unit 216A gets acquitted of the crime by a jury.
    The deputy successfully appeals his firing and gets reinstated, however, IAB now found him guilty of not following policy and procedure. The IAB people argued that if unit 216A had waited for unit 217H, the suspect would have had ample time to escape. The deputy would only then have needed to write a simple “who done it” report and be done with it. The most egregious of the policy violations was that after so much warning, unit 216A was not wearing brass buttons, which could have intimidated the suspect, and stop the use of force in the first place.
    How do you avoid being the victim of the above tragedies? Strictly follow the provisions of the United States Constitution, State Law, and department policy. Did you know that the LAPD and the LASD patrol are comparable in size and amount of people served? Yet, the LASD deputies do almost the same as the LAPD officers do with a little more than a quarter of what the LAPD force is? For so long deputies have been working hard, getting things done, often time taking short cuts, in good faith, to get things done. Yet when things go wrong, the brass immediately wants to put cases on them. It is time to follow the policy religiously. That means calls will not be handle as fast, and criminals will not go to jail, but that is what “fresh eyes” wants. Do you want to provide for your family and avoid being a convicted felon for doing your job? Slow down, drive safely, wear your seatbelt and get there when you can, safely, by then, the suspects are gone and the likelihood of the use of force is less likely. Write a thorough report, give it to DB and pray the find a willing DA deputy to file a case against a criminal, pray a lot for that to happen. If the DA deputy files a case, wait for the arrest warrant, and then look for the suspect. If you run into the suspect, and he refuses to get arrested, call the queen at CPA and ask for advice.

    Be careful.

  • Unknown: Nothing ever changes. In 2003, I was a sergeant assigned to a Tactical Response Force (TRF) platoon made up of deputies assigned to GET/OSS. We responded to the Federal Building due to civil unrest in response to the Iraq War. We were requested by LAPD to assist with crowd control at the intersection of Veterans/Wilshire. Once on scene, the LAPD incident Commander requested that we assist in moving the crowd from the street back onto the sidewalk. We formed a skirmish line and proceeded to move the crowd. Protesters that resisted were struck and forced back onto the sidewalk. Later that evening, our platoon was released without documenting the use of force. An IAB investigation was later conducted regarding the use of force. It should be noted the force used was directed force authorized by our Incident Commander. The deputies responded to a direct order in a manner they were trained. It later became apparent IAB Investigators were trying to “put cases” on the deputies assigned to the platoon who had used force. The investigators stated the deputies failed to report their uses of force and violated policy. I argued the use of force was ordered and observed by their supervisors. I also argued it was our responsibility as supervisors to have debriefed the incident and requested proper documentation. I ultimately lost the argument as our Captain was on the short list for Commander and our Incident Commander later promoted to Captain. Almost 15 years later, it is obvious not much has changed.

  • Not enough pushback from Deputies or Advocates to put a blip on the radar. Most times its more than being vocal. LASD is bleeding internally and externally. Max Huntsman can verify the external, (LA Times 4-29- 17) and a “mixed bag” pointing out the internal.

  • We’re talking about Diana Teran here, and CPA is an acronym for “Constitutional Policing Advisor.”

    She’s been on the job only since November 2015, and already she’s got “squads from ICIB and IAB” working for her, and she’s completely out of the chain-of-command–look at the LASD Table of Organization, which can be Googled.




  • This CPA can only allow to do what she is allowed to do. Having secret forces within IAB and ICIB, now that is scary and ripe for abuse. Pressuring these “teams of secret police” to resolve investigations the way she “envisions” them, rather than than strictly on the evidence, pro or con, that is appalling. This can only occur with the concurrence of the IAB and ICIB captains, their Commander and their Chief (don’t get me started on her). And NONE of this can happen without the nod of Buckles (I don’t know where I read that, but I get a laugh out of it) himself. If this is all true, then ONLY the unions can expose it to their membership and the media. IF, it is true.

  • Yeah, but she’s a lawyer, and has worked as such in private practice, the D.A., County Counsel, and the OIR (remember them).

    In other words, she has better knowledge to “resolve investigations”
    based “on the evidence” than anybody else you mentioned.

  • In other words, this isn’t going anywhere and she knows it, but Celeste doesn’t get a thimbleful of comments unless the thread is about corruption in the LASD. So she gives us a teaser.

  • I agree. Many cringe and whine when light is shed on any organization’s dirty deeds, even a handful in law enforcement. Let’s call “unethical decision making process” what it truly is….. Corruption.

  • I would suggest Celeste has only the power of the pen. It is up to our leaders in law enforcement to follow up. Don’t hold ur breath…….we have seen this act before……..

  • Truly spoken.

    I might add that the “combined voices” of every deputy under the rank of Sgt would be more powerful than waiting on leaders in law enforcement, for any follow-up The squeaking wheel gets the oil.

  • Well let’s see what we learned:

    1. New boss same as the old boss.

    2. Sheriff’s Driver=promotion

    3. Two tier discipline system

  • A critical factor not being addressed is the shocking, and total, lack of concern for the safety and lives of the aircrew personnel who would be flying in helicopters using these engines. These personnel would be left without the critical, individual history of specific maintenance contained in the engine’s log book–something that must stay with the engine in order to ensure continuity of safety for its entire lifetime. The act of switching the data plates results in the engine log going with the data plate–not the actual engine it correctly, and originally, documented. For instance, if a particular engine had a suspicious vibration, the maintenance crew might double the inspections in that area to prevent a potential catastrophic failure and loss of life to the aircrew. The engines in question were destined for use in State Department Sea King helicopters which are operating in overseas areas such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Switching the data plates is not only blatantly illegal, it’s immoral because it reflects a callous disregard and depraved indifference for the lives of the retired military personnel from the US Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force who are now flying helicopters with counterfeit engines in austere and dangerous environments. No matter what rationale was given for this despicable and illegal scheme, any cash generated cannot be justified–it’s potential blood money. Meanwhile, the perpetrators (totally devoid of morals and ethics) move on with their lives, unscathed and unaffected by the potential deaths or catastrophic injuries of American soldiers and sailors. The crews flying in those helicopters have wives, children, extended families and loved ones and they deserve more from us. We need to ensure the safety as those who risk their lives for our country. To do that, we need to hold accountable those morally corrupt individuals who would put at risk the lives of those Americans standing on the front lines.

  • It’s been investigated and is a done deal. Next gripe please. Rathbun, stop whining.

  • Alicia: Stolen property/Vin switches and nobody if fired…let alone criminally prosecuted. Cmon…..that is out of the Mannis playbook. Hope all is well……

  • Dave: Thank you for ur efforts! Not to worry Mr. Diamond is a Department Troll. He works out of the new Public Disinformation Bureau. They are located in the old broom closet at Internal Affairs. Just one computer and a chair..due to budget constraints……

  • Good points!!

    This program is run by the U.S.M.C., and I can’t really see the Marines turning a blind eye to any of the valid points that you raised. Flying unsafe helicopters into combat zones is not something that I can see the Marines tolerating.

    We saw what happened withe the LASD v. the FBI; let’s see what happens
    with the LASD v. the U.S.M.C.

  • LASD would be no match for USMC, especially on General “Bulldog” Mattis’s watch.

  • Jim Diamond, Dave Rathbun has some very good points. True, this has been investigated by the feds and ICIB. however; I don’t think that you our anyone else on this page has the war bag full enough to tell a man like Rathbun to stop “Whining.” I think a little more tact may be in order. Take it for what its worth.

  • I agree with Jim, Rathbun, STFU. Mike, as one with plenty of skeletons in the closet, don’t throw stones.

  • Mike “Please please please give me a MOV” Claus. Classic hearing from you if that’s really you.

  • There is nothing new here in all I have read. This same monkey business with the leaders of Aero was going on in the late 70s and early 80s. Cash for aircraft surplus parts was the game then and it cost the Captain his job. I know because I was the one who let the cat out of the bag to the upper brass. Disgusting use of position and power. At least they did something about it, but that was a long time ago.

  • Ownership, who ever you are; I have been giving my opinion and standing up for what is right for a very -very long time . If you are to ignorant to realize that, do your homework…Oh and PS. I use my name…

  • Easy to use your name as a retiree!! Give me a Fucking break.
    You were silent like all the rest with Stars on their collar. My homework has been 29 years as a grunt line guy, while you and your kind sat in your offices in a deafening silence.

  • Claus, you promoted several ranks higher than you should have ever been. Must be nice to have been in Leroy’s favor for so long. BTW, how does it feel to have been on the infamous “yellow team” who failed the Department back in 2005. Many of us have not and will never forget or forgive.

  • Ownership, I admire your 29 years as a grunt line guy, however; I will not banter back and forth with someone that truly is ignorant. Stay safe…

  • Is that the first thing that came to mind Mikey boy, I guess your man card is in question. Again, June 24 is approaching. I hope you can sleep at night.

  • Hammer, I sleep great and have no idea what you are talking about when It comes to June 24th or what you call the Yellow Team. By the way, you are truly the first to tell me I promoted several ranks higher than I should have, except for PT of course. You certainly have a right to your anonymous opinion. It would be so much fun to sit next to you and match careers. Maybe I could learn something!!!

  • Mike: June 24th was the night Jerry Ortiz was killed. SEB responded and took the suspect into custody. I have to admit, as I saw Jimmy C. place him in the back seat of a patrol car……I had hoped for a different outcome…..RIP Jerry

  • I gotta agree with some of the other posters on this thread. Claus, you were a Baca golden child and were spoon fed your career. Enjoy your retirement. You ughhhhhhhh deserve it. RIP Jerry.

  • Bandwagon, I now understand what you mean by the term “yellow Team.” I don’t agree with you but you have your right to your opinion. I have no idea how you connect me with this as I had left in 97 but that is fine. Obviously you and I disagree on a number of issues and I would be wasting my time bantering back and forth with you.

  • Mike: You are confusing me with Hammer. I did not use the term “yellow team”. I only advised you the importance of June 24th in your response to Hammer.

  • Mike: Looks like somebody swapped my moniker…….Celeste……can u delete plz…..only room for one Bandwagon on this site……


    Thanks for the heads up, Bandwagon. Deletion accomplished. And to whoever temporarily swiped Bandwagon’s nom de guerre, I am going to assume that your enthusiasm for commenting rashly led you to impersonate someone, which is very much against WLA’s rules for commenting.

    But, do it again and I’ll ban your IP permanently.

    Happy rainy Sunday, everyone.


  • As this clearly involves dangerous fraud concerning Federal property otherwise unavailable to all other local agencies, that Sen. Diane Feinstein went to extraordinary lengths to obtain for the LASD, the FAA and/or FBI, now under a Trump Administration, should pursue Federal Indictments of these Aero Bureau perps, rather than having them walk off with $120K employment lawsuit verdicts, plus comfortable retirements. Otherwise, what kind of message is the Government telling to dedicated Heroes and Families thereof, like SGT. Owens we buried never long enough ago up here in the Antelope Valley.

  • Bandwagon for you, I must say if M.Claus is who they say they are, I had the privilege to work under his command. I have nothing but respect for him, 19 years with department the only man to stand up for his hard working line Deputies. I screwed up one day, fell on my sword like the department use to preach, and took my fair share of lumps which the department today holds over my head. The only man to go to bat for his deputies, maybe the reason why he retired. The department today is sending the messege if you screw up lie about it, because if you say I screwed up your fired. Department is going in the wrong direction. M.Claus, enjoy your retirement and thank you for your service.

  • EM..u are confusing my comments with Hammer and Ownership. Plz read Mike’s apology above. I also worked with Mike back ar IRC when we’re both young pups. I have always liked and respected him…..

  • I have very specific reasons why I detest Claus. Note: He never disciplined me in any way, so I’m not some disgruntled whiner.

    The specifics will stay with me. I shouldn’t of even brought up the MOV. That was a punk move on my part.

    My issue is that he’s apart of the “Stars on the Collar” crowd who remained silent until the retirement papers were signed. Then he comes on here and starts calling people out for using career saving monikers. It makes me sick!!!

    He may have backed some people and fried some people. So what. I’m talking about the culture of “Stars on the Collar” folks that let Buckles come in and start ROD’ing everyone with NO communication to the line. NONE!!
    You all sat in your offices and didn’t do shit!!

  • Mike:. Considering the condition the Department currently finds itself in…..Ownership has a good point and deserves a response…….as do the all the employees on the Department.

  • Ownership: The term ” disgruntled ” gets a bad rap. I would say many of the disgruntled former employees on this Web site have a legitimate right to be angry and resentful. One definition of disgruntled is to be aggrieved: feeling resentful at having been unfairly treated. That should cover most of the employees on the Department.

  • The term disgruntled is a coded word used in journalism to label and cast dispersions on the opinions of anyone who doesn’t ascribe to the political point of view of the editorial board and the political establishment. It was frequently used during the Banaka years to describe their opponents, both within and outside the department, to undermine their credibility. It turns out all those “disgruntled” folks were spot on, just as they are today regarding Fresh Eyes.

  • “Ownership” Your “foot in mouth” brands you very well. Why don’t you get actual & factual information before opening your “big trap”. Tis not a first for you to yap just to be yapping. Have you wrote a memo or message to anyone at HOJJ to expel your feelings. No?

  • Claus will never bad mouth Leroy. If it weren’t for Lee, Claus would never have promoted. He knows that.

  • Jim: Actually, I would prefer Chief Mannis or Mc Sweeney (if he is still working) bare their soul. They will get a pass in this life and retire with a hefty tax payers salary…..but will ultimately face judgment with their maker for their transgressions….at least they won’t be lonely!

  • News flash… Regarding what?? What subject are you needing “facts” about? I have plenty. Let me know tough guy and I’ll be glad to enlighten you


    To the commenter who is engaged in name calling another commenter, I’ve deleted your comments. Disagree forcefully and angrily, if you like, but just straight up mud-throwing, or repeatedly calling someone an unattractive name will continue to get spiked.

    Nothing personal. Those are just the rules.


Leave a Comment