LASD Paul Tanaka Sheriff Lee Baca Writers and Writing

WitnessLA Story Wins New Award for Reporting on Baca, Tanaka & the LASD

The City and Regional Magazine Association, sponsored by the Missouri School of Journalism, gave out its journalism awards on Monday night.
We learned in real time that a story I’d written had won first place in the reporting category, because people at the CRMA awards dinner in Texas were tweeting the names of the winners as they were announced. Mary Melton, Editor of LA mag, was one of the happy tweeters.

The winning story ran in Los Angeles Magazine in March 2014, but much of it was based on reporting originally done for WitnessLA when we were covering the Los Angeles Shreriff’s Department the most intensely. The material was compressed and rewritten into the longread story you can read here at Los Angeles Magazine. It is called Downfall


  • Congratulations on winning your award and doing research and writing about the 7 Convicted Sheriff’s members.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Congratulations Celeste! That was a comprehensive and telling piece – So glad you’ve not let up on reporting the corruption in the LASD. There is much more to tell!

  • Congrats Celeste. But the story is far from done. After he is convicted, Tanaka will be doing a data-dump to the feds of all of Leroy’s financial records that he has so lovingly kept all these years as Moonbean’s campaign and personal bookkeeper.

    Your book seems to be as endless as the destruction that Baca and his yes-men have done to a once proud Department.

  • Congratulations, Celeste–journalism in its absolute best light.

    Read the Wikipedia article on Paul Tanaka and “Downfall” is right there in the list of references for the article.

    A suitable spot, indeed.

  • Congratulations Celeste and the Witness LA staff (all previous LASD reports) for practicing honest journalism by shining a sanitizing search light on a diseased LASD. Had it none been for you, Commander Olmsted, the Jail Commission, and CH7, things would not have changed much. All engaged in honor, courage and perseverance against all odds, for the benefit of LASD.

    But a special thanks goes out Captain Carey and Lieutenants Thompson and Leavins for ending the regime of terror and incompetence, as we once knew it. Everyone was a team player and did their part well.

  • Dulce: make up your mind. Last month you stated that “No one reads this fishwrap” referring to WLA? Now an congrats to our Celeste? (which is good)

    WLA was a catalyst in taking your boss down> Paul Tanaka. Make up your mind. I hope you leave the dark side… are being watched.

  • #14, . That should read…… to Celeste and the courageous lASD members who will continue the fight to restore the once very proud department

  • The award is well deserved, Celeste !

    From the perspective of a friend of one of the seven convicted deputies, I’ve found your reporting and analysis to be the only fair and complete source of information regarding the Pandora’s Box cases. The other news sources simply unquestioningly piled on the seven, parroting the FBI/DOJ line that the seven are tarnished badges and the LASD official line that the seven were unrepresentative bad apples (without the LASD taking responsibility as an agency for putting the seven in an impossible spot). You alone kept the focus on questioning whether the true decision makers – Baca and Tanaka – were being held to account. You alone questioned the “sobering” sentences the seven received. This is really the only fair source of information I’ve found about the case.

  • Thank you…your reporting was the beginning of the downfall of a very corrupt leadership.

  • Sheriff McDonald,
    I plead with you to take charge of this Department. I am tired of fighting the incompetent bullies that rose to the ranks under Baca, Tanaka, and yes John Scott. Everyone he ever works with, dealt with, or attended church with have been promoted.
    There are criminals and people that should be picking up my trash still in high power positions on this department. I beg you, to look at everyone’s jackets to see what these fools have not done. Tanaka is still getting all his pets promoted. Your complete lack of inaction is very disheartening to someone that devoted his entire life on the bright side.
    PS, grow some balls and be the Sheriff, emerged from the shadows of the Librarian and be a leader. Some of your executive leadership could not even get a job at Home Depot. We have all waited patiently to figure it out, but now is the time for action.

  • And P.S. the whole Mcdonald vrs Mcdonnell thing is on purpose. Until you start acting like the Sheriff, you are free game. Action demands respect until there is, whatever….

  • This should stir the waters; While i agree there are those folks who were promoted for the wrong reasons and should be rolled up if the Department expects to be restored to its position of prominence , but make no mistake these roll – ups should not be limited to the executive ranks. Many in the deputy , sgt and lt ranks were hired for the wrong reasons. Anyone who betrays the trust of their subordinates and the public should also be rolled up. you know who they are.

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