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Does a Newly Surfaced E-Mail Tie Paul Tanaka to the FBI’s Obstruction of Justice Case….& More

An internal sheriff’s department email
that has recently surfaced appears to link former undersheriff Paul Tanaka to the operation to hide FBI informant Anthony Brown from his federal handlers.

Thus far, seven members of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department have been indicted for their alleged part in the hiding Brown in the summer and early fall of 2011.

In all, 20 from the department have been charged as part of the still widening federal investigation into corruption in the LASD.

But it is the indictment of two lieutenants, two sergeants, and three deputies around the Brown issue that has triggered the most speculation about whether or not the indictment list will travel farther up the line and, if so, how far up.

Department members who have spoken to us on the subject have maintained that the two teams involved with the twinned schemes to keep informant Brown away from any and all federal agents—and then to question him about what he told the feds—could not have assigned themselves to those tasks. The idea that a couple of lieutenants would order and execute such actions on their own is simply not credible, said LASD sources.

(Go here for our previous reporting on the Brown-hiding strategy that came to be known as Operation Pandora’s Box.)

Then around three weeks ago, WitnessLA obtained the internal sheriff’s department email that mentions Paul Tanaka in relationship to Brown.

NOTE: Both the LA Times and ABC-7 obtained the same email, and have each come out with their own stories on Sunday and Monday, respectively. More on that in a minute.

The email was written by Deputy Gerard Smith and addressed to the members of the fourteen-man team tasked with hiding Brown, plus two department supervisors.

It reads in part:

If you are getting this Email, you have been signed up to work this very important detail. I am in charge of security and scheduling for this detail. Please don’t let me or the unit down. …. There will be no other movement [of Anthony Brown], without the presence of the following people: US Tanaka, ICIB Cpt. Tom Carey, ICIB LT. Leavins, LT. G. Thompson, Dep. G. Smith or Dep. M. Manzo.

Of the six people listed, the last four people— Lieutenant Stephen Leavins, Lieutenant Greg Thompson, Deputy Gerard Smith, and Deputy Mickey Manzo—have all been indicted. The remaining two—Captain Tom Carey and former undersheriff Paul Tanaka—have not.

Farther down in the email, Smith writes:

To keep yourself free of any controversy don’t talk to him [Brown], let the approved, above listed people deal with Browns [sic] issues

By “the approved, above listed people” he clearly means Tanaka and the other three.

And then Smith writes this:

It has been expressed to me (several times now) that this is one of the most important investigations involving The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, in its 160 year history. No joke……

None of our sources seem to know who would have been most likely to have made the statement to Smith about the Brown matter being so terribly important.

But whatever its provenance, such a pronouncement would likely have had a strong effect on those who received the email, said our sources, especially given the inference that it came from someone much further up the line.

“This kind of thing would have placed tremendous pressure on these young jail deputies,” an LASD supervisor who works the jails now told me. “When their superiors tell them something is important, they don’t want to stumble. They don’t want fail.”

Here’s a clip from Robert Faturechi’s LA Times article on the email in which Paul Tanaka talks about his reaction to the information contained in the email.

Tanaka said in a statement to The Times that he had a minimal role in the Brown matter — known inside the department as “Operation Pandora’s Box” — and that he did nothing improper or illegal. He also said he does not recall being made aware of the contents of the email before it was sent.

“While I was involved in some aspects of the implementation of these orders, I was not involved in or had knowledge of other aspects and my name was sometimes used without my knowledge or consent because of my position,” he said in the statement.

Here’s a clip from the ABC 7 story:

Multiple sources who were directly involved in the Brown operation told Eyewitness News they were told by the indicted Lt. Greg Thompson that if anyone questioned what they were doing with inmate Brown, they should instruct that person to call then-undersheriff Tanaka.

A similar story comes in sworn deposition testimony from Lieutenant Katherine Voyer. She was working at the downtown jail complex in the summer of 2011 and testified about the orders she received: “No federal agents were allowed in the facility and if they came with the writ, call Mr. Tanaka’s cell phone, personal cell phone.”

“Mr. Tanaka was very hands-on in how he handled this department,” said Brian Moriguchi, president of the L.A. County Professional Peace Officers Association. “So he knew pretty much everything that was going on in this department.”

Moriguchi’s union represents some of those indicted.

The email is supported by some of the reports we’ve heard from sources who worked on the team that hid Brown. For instance, one recalled an instance in which Brown was moved to a cell in the out-of-the-way the San Dimas station, at which time the deputies present were confronted by a watch commander who wanted to know what they hell they were doing bringing this mystery inmate in so late at night. According to our source, the deputies told the watch commander that they should check with Undersheriff Tanaka if they had a problem.

The watch commander stalked off for a few minutes then reappeared and reportedly everything was fine.



The Detroit Free Press ran the story on their front page. Here’s a clip from the opening. But her actual brief is worth reading.

Sixteen-year-old Matilyn Sarosi spent the recent spate of snow days off school writing an 18-page paper for which she will get no academic credit.

Instead of the paper being graded by a teacher at Father Gabriel Richard Catholic High School in Ann Arbor, Sarosi hopes the justices of the Michigan Supreme Court will give her brief thoughtful consideration.

Sarosi’s amicus, or friend of the court brief, argues that Michigan prison inmates who were sentenced to life for crimes, such as murder, committed when they were younger than 18 now deserve a chance at parole. The legal brief was submitted Friday to the state Supreme Court, which is to hold a hearing on the issue March 6.

“I was really kind of shocked at the issue, the injustice of it all, and the magnitude,” said Sarosi, an honor student and public speaking events competitor. “I’m a teenager and I know my peers. We make impulsive, immature decisions. We make dangerous decisions. But if you give up hope on our youth and kids, you’re giving away our future.”


The LA Times Joel Rubin has the story. Here’s a clip:

The Los Angeles Police Commission is poised to adopt a major shift in the way it judges police shootings, tying an officer’s decision to pull the trigger to his actions in the moments leading up to the incident.

The rule change, which will be taken up Tuesday, would settle years of debate over whether the commission can make a determination that a shooting violated department policy if the officer created a situation in which deadly force was necessary. Until now, the commission has generally focused on the narrow question of whether an officer faced a deadly threat at the moment he opened fire.
“This is one of the most significant policy decisions we’ve made in my seven years on the commission,” Robert Saltzman said.

Although only a few words would be added to the existing policy, Saltzman said, “the clarification is significant. Some have interpreted our current policy to suggest the commission should ignore all the officer’s pre-force activity, no matter how relevant those earlier actions are.”

The proposal was submitted by the commission’s inspector general, who reviews officer shootings and makes recommendations to the commission on whether they fall in or outside department policy. Along with Saltzman, it has won the support of commission President Steve Soboroff.

Really, the clip is only an opener. Read the whole story to see the logic involved in the decision the commission is considering.

Wherever you personally come down on this issue, I guarantee you’ll find it interesting.


  • Ok, so why not subpoena the author of the email, the Watch Commander at San Dimas Station who worked the night in question, every person listed on the email, check the station phone records for numbers called, and the Watch Commanders cell phone records if needed, and get a hold of the “log book.” See who wrote what.
    If the defense was we were not hiding the inmate, only conducting an investigation,the facts will come out. If certain Commander people were pulling strings (which most of us certainly believe or know) then this too will come to light.
    Most dances only last a few hours then it is either a score or a loss until the next dance, I suggest this dance be done with, because the music is repetitive.
    And if the Feds elect to leave the dance with their third choice dance partner, then Sheriff Scott needs to invite several command personnel to pursue their careers in other areas of interest outside of LASD. And a simple return to LASO would be nice.

  • If you took 100 MCJ Deputies and Paul Tanaka ordered them to adhere to the administrative plan to hide informant Anthony Brown, all 100 MCJ Deputies would have followed that order. Paul Tanaka and crew knew this and manipulated these young Deputies. It breaks my heart to watch the news footage of these young Deputies walking to court with their wives displaying that “deer in the headlights” look on their faces that screams, “what just happened”.

    Can you imagine being the Watch Commander at San Dimas Station and see young MCJ Deputies escorting Anthony Brown into one of your holding cells, ask them what the hell is going on and be told by 3-4 year boot jail Deputies, “call Paul Tanaka”. This is the destruction of the chain of command of the LASD that Tanaka made common place in EVERY unit. Also the reason the Jail Commission questioned Tanaka so thoroughly about

    It is hard to believe that ANYONE in their right mind would ever believe that Baca/Tanaka did not know every move that was made regarding Anthony Brown. It is a horrid display of leadership and general manhood the way these two cowards (Baca/Tanaka) are hanging these young Deputies out to dry!

  • I would like to know who the Captain was at MCJ while all this was going on, and who were the Commanders. They obviously sat up there on the 8th floor of TTCF and did nothing. They knew the Tanaka train wreck was in the building, but did nothing to stop it. I am sorry but they too should be held accountable. Where are they all now?

  • Tanaka not only hung them out to dry on international/national television, so did their immediate supervisors. What a mess and this happened in every other unit too.

  • Times awasing, I agree with you, but those execs knew they would be destroyed if they told PT no. Still no excuse for those execs to do nothing and allow such evil to flourish. If they had issues with the direction PT was taking things, they all should have stood up to him.

    Even worse, some execs promoted the culture that Tanaka pushed (look at all the execs on the pay to play list).

    I feel the new sheriff should have a sit down with all department execs individually and ask why they allowed things to get this far.

  • It seems to me that the key element in this caper is the intent of why they were hiding Brown. At one point I recall a claim that they were moving him to protect him from the Deps. If so, then I guess the intent was for Brown’s own good and therefore there is no hindering of a Fed prosecution (yeah, I know we’ve had inmates who need a hell of a lot more protection from the Deps than this guy and we never did this kind of thing – just being the devil’s advocate).

    On the other hand, if they were hiding him from the feds, then we have a pretty easy conviction. The unfortunate personnel who were just “following orders” and had no idea what the overall intent was are getting screwed (and are probably being squeezed for info – but they don’t know what the overall intent was so why indict them?). I can imagine the scenario where a lot of folks involved in this thing and being directed from above thinking “They probably know something that I don’t.” and following orders. The next thing they know, they are being indicted or being dragged before a Federal Grand Jury and read their rights.

    It is Baca, Tanaka, and probably 4 or 5 others who sat around designing and directing this thing who know exactly what the intent was. These are the big fish who have brought havoc on so many of their subordinates who I look forward to seeing doing the perp walk outside Federal Court. Let’s see how they like it!

  • No doubt that the ill informed line deps involved in this poorly planned caper are going to feel the brunt of the federal prosecution. On the stand Tanaka has only two options. One; Tanaka will try to control the trial and lie about his involvement. Two; Tanaka will plead the 5th. In either case it won’t look good for his chances for election.
    In fact, I believe that Tanaka’s chances of being elected are Slim and none and Slim left town! Not one pol indicates that Tanaka will survive this scandal to which I agree! There is only so much kool-aid to be had.

    If I was the attorney for any of the indicted deps I would demand that trial begin during the campaign and make Tanaka tell what he knows.

    Tanaka is no longer giving interviews on the radio or interviews to channel 7. Tanaka has lost control of his emotions and no longer connected to reality. Does this sound familiar? Another Baca in the making. Add, Baca will also be subpoena to testify!! Got to get a seat in the courtroom for that one!

  • I grant you that this is somewhat off topic; however, I believe very relevant to moving forward. Specifically, I wonder why Sheriff Scott has not demoted both Todd Rogers and James Hellmold back to the rank of Commander? Better still – if there’re “seriously” running for sheriff, then each should request a leave of absence. I cannot help but believe that both are an impediment to “really” moving forward.

  • Do any of us really think that they both have not made a deal with the FBI already, to save their own hide! God help LASD if this comes to pass.

  • If all of the abovementioned is true, that’s one less threat of of making the run off in November. Now it would boil down to Olmstead and McDonell.

  • Cross reference the Pay to Play Tanaka Donation Lists and the current Intent to Promote lists. Sickening how PT’s corrupt influence is still lingering. Anyone’s name on those lists that are holding rank and or about to gain rank should be called into question.

    Sheriff Scott: the good and decent deputies implore you to take action and rid us of these cancers. They all bought into Tanaka’s evil schemes and many of them have already proven to be corrupt. Do us all a favor and save us, the Department and the citizens of LA County. We all deserve better than these thugs. Even though there are some good people on those lists, they have proven to be too gullible and will fall for anything. We need true professionals with decent backgrounds to bring us back from the doldrums. I’m sick of being ashamed of my Department.

    You all know who you are. We know who you are. Take your ink, cigars, thug like behavior and cliques and apply for your early retirements. Then the good and decent deputies who have suffered under your evil regime can put the LASD back together again.

  • Doesn’t look like Pauley has the stones to participate in the League Of Woman Voters debate….after his flops in recent interviews, I can’t say that I blame him…..What’s he gonna say, my attorney advised me not to answer that TOUGH question (besides I don’t have a real good answer)…….Even BACA had the guts to show John and Ken that he had GONADS………this so called Viking is a complete FRAUD!!!!

  • I certainly hope someone has the wherewithal to video the Candidate Forum this evening in it’s entirety; for the benefit of the Department, as well as the citizens of LA County. After which it should be posted up on youtube. It did say that no media or citizens will be allowed; I hope recording this is not prohibited; it just keeps the veil of secrecy up for this agency. Not good in the public view…

  • leftAtTheBall, Any reasonable person would caution you from here on.

    You seem to have a cavalier and redemptive position placing people you feel are involved in the post you authored here.

    You might want to consult your attorney or if you have no retainer, you should perhaps get some guidance.

  • Times waisting, Does Cruz as Captain, Davoren as lieutenant and do the rest of the employee manifest. Doesn’t mean they were involved, they were just there.

  • This whole situation has reached critical mass. More and more information will continue to come out, because many deputies who were afraid to come forward are no longer scared.

    When Rathbun and Sexton first filed their lawsuit, many people, especially higher ups, accused them of telling ghost stories. I guess we’re seeing that wasn’t the case at all.

  • Mingyang: if you think capt Cruz did not have a Hand in this, put the gin & juice away. Rogue deputies only continue when brass looks the other way. “3000 boys” were just that……boys! True gangsters and gang bangers laughed at them. To those misguided boots who are part of knuckle head culture, grow up. If Cruz told you to jump off of the roof at twin towers, would you. You only played Russian roulette with your careers, while he’s enjoying a county pension.

  • Hey, Ming, I had thought that Cruz was gone before “Pandoras box”, but I could be wrong. However, no matter who was the Captain, they had a responsibility to protect their Deputies. I know for a fact no Captain (other than Cruz) does not do anything without running to the Commander. I know of two Commanders that were at TTCF, and had to have known. They are now Chief’s. Yet, we have 18 members relieved of duty. Had there been anybody in that chain of command with a pair of gonads, they would have said something and they did not. That’s who is to blame. I don’t even blame the tall guy, because he thinks he can do what he wants.

  • Radar Says and times awaisting, I think you may answer each others questions by reading each others posts. No position at MCJ was done without calculation.

    People leaving patrol stations 10 minutes from home to drive to LA as a watch commander? Well, do as I say and you’ll get the nod. Boom, now we have a captain 10 minutes from home. How does that happen? Hush money? Look the other way is people ask? I don’t know. I wasn’t there, won’t second guess people or accuse people. I won’t get into the Witnessla stabathon. I just make observations. Nothing more

  • As a former Region II person, I saw and now see how it is possible to hand pick the all the “ghetto boys” to move into coveted positions or promote out.

    There is some perception if you were a “ghetto cop or Stoney boy”, you were the top cop. Not so. some of the best cops came from region I and III, so I’m not really impressed when I see little FPK stickers on the back of vehicles. I don’t bow to that mentality. That’s what got the Department in trouble in the first place.

  • @Firestone 11A: You lost credibility: First because of your screen name, second because some of my friends who worked Firestone claim they never called themselves “Stoney Boys,” that was a name given to them by others. Third, because if I remember correctly I think Firestone was already closed when the cronyism got blatant. Fourth, because you refer to the stickers as “little FPK” stickers which is a classic example of belittling someone or something because you feel inferior. And, my perception/opinion is that Tanaka and his way of doing things is what got this department in it’s present situation, not “Region II” Deputies.

    I will, however, agree that there are many good Cops who are in and/or came out of Regions I and III, also.

    You didn’t really have to attack one particular station, because it’s no secret that Tanaka would tell newly promoted supervisors that they had nothing coming if they didn’t work Region II.

    So, I suspect you either never worked Firestone or couldn’t cut it in Region II. I get your point, but wrong delivery!

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