Archive for the ‘California Über Alles’ Category

TMQ Watch: September 9, 2014.

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Might as well jump right into the first TMQ of the regular season

(more…)

Vandalism is wrong, m’kay? Don’t do it.

Friday, August 1st, 2014

A day after former Bell Mayor Oscar Hernandez was sentenced to a year in county jail for his role in a public corruption case that nearly left the town bankrupt, the mugshot of Robert Rizzo — the man at the heart of the scandal — was tagged on the walls of his grocery store.

Seriously. Bad tagger. No biscuit.

Flames, hyena, etc. (#17 in a series)

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Last man down.

Victor Bello, former city council member for the notoriously corrupt California city of Bell, was sentenced today for his role in the corruption scandal.

One year in jail, five years probation, 500 hours of community service, and $177,000 in restitution.

The prosecution was asking for the standard four years. Bello is sort of an exception, though:

Bello’s case was unique among the former council members because he alone had approached district attorney’s investigators about financial irregularities in the small city months before The Times exposed the size of the paychecks the town’s leaders were drawing.
Bello had written a letter on May 6, 2009, to the Los Angeles County district attorney with allegations of misconduct in Bell but was not interviewed until 10 1/2 months later.

So it’s at least kind of arguable that he was the rat in the case, and may deserve a light sentence more than the other guys…

Speaking of tax-fattened hyenas…

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Just for the record: indicted California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee has pled “not guilty” to “a racketeering charge and two counts of conspiracy ‘to obtain property under the color of official right.’”

Surprise, surprise, surprise.

If I understand the LAT correctly, these are additional recently filed charges against Yee. More:

The new charges include allegations Yee sought to extort campaign contributions from people in exchange for favorable votes on legislation affecting the National Football League and mixed martial arts.

The NFL and MMA? Interesting. I sense at least a possibility that some more people are going to be brought down before this is over. These new indictments are on RICO charges as well. Fun fun fun.

(And isn’t “conspiracy to obtain property under the color of official right” a great charge?)

(Also, I’m a little late on this, but I’ve decided I need a Leland Yee category. I’ll go back and tag additional posts when I have time.)

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#16 in a series)

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

The bell continues to toll.

Oscar Hernandez, former mayor of the notoriously corrupt California city of Bell, was sentenced today.

One year in jail, five years of probation, $241,000 in restitution, and 1000 hours of community service.

I don’t know what to make of these sentences. On the one hand, they strike me as being pretty light. On the other hand, a conviction is a conviction. On the gripping hand, I’m wondering if the judges in these cases are buying into the defense argument that it was all Robert “Ratso” Rizzo’s fault. And since Rizzo and his little buddy Spaccia are doing long hard time, maybe this is the best we can hope for.

Edited to add: Hey, guess what Oscar Hernandez is full of?

“I just want to say I’m sorry for not being so aggressive in my questions to the people when I was in charge in the office,” Hernandez told Kennedy before she handed down the sentence. “And I take all the blame, I put blame on myself .… I feel so sorry and I say sorry to the community of Bell and forgive me.”

I’ve seen tax-fattened hyenas on fire off the shoulder of Bell…

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Teresa Jacobo, former city council person for the notoriously corrupt California city of Bell, was sentenced today. As you may recall, Ms. Jacobo was convicted earlier this year of misappropriating public funds, and struck a plea deal on additional charges.

And what do we have behind door #3 for Ms. Jacobo?

Two years in prison and “more than $242,000″ in restitution payments.

The prosecution had requested four years; it seems like they’ve been requesting four years for all the council members.

Flames and smoke.

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Smoke:

George Cole, the former mayor of the notoriously corrupt California city of Bell, was sentenced today. You may remember former Mayor Cole from such hits as “let’s have the city pay to send me to fat camp“, or his “no contest” plea earlier this year to corruption charges, or his conviction last year for misappropriation of funds.

So what did Cole get?

180 days of home confinement, five years of probation, and 1,000 hours of community service.
And he has to pay $77,000 in restitution. That’s all.

Prosecutors had asked that Cole be sentenced to four years in state prison.


But he’s filled with shame and remorse.
I’m going to politely suggest that’s not the only thing he’s full of, but this is a family blog…

Ah, but the flames. You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena!

Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon and his wife were convicted Wednesday of some but not all voter-fraud and perjury charges brought in a case that accused them of lying about where they lived so he would be qualified to run for his council seat.

I thought I had written about Alarcon and his wife previously, but a search doesn’t turn up anything.

Prosecutors said Alarcon lied when he swore that he lived in a home in Panorama City in L.A.’s 7th Council District so he could run in 2007 and 2009 to represent the district, which he did until last year. They said he actually lived in a bigger home outside the district in Sun Valley. The L.A. City Charter requires that candidates live in the districts they seek to represent.

Flames, hyena, etc. (#14 in a series)

Friday, July 11th, 2014

George Mirabal, former city council member in the notoriously corrupt city of Bell, has been sentenced to one year in prison and five years of probation. He has also been ordered to pay the city $242,000 in restitution.

Mirabal is the first of the five former Bell council members to be sentenced. The others will be sentenced over the next three weeks and could receive different sentences.

(Previously.)

Flames! Flames!

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Six current and former members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department were found guilty Tuesday of obstruction of justice and other charges for their part in an alleged scheme to stymie a federal grand jury investigation into civil rights abuses and corruption in the county’s jails.

The convicted:

  • Lt. Gregory Thompson
  • Gerard Smith
  • Mickey Manzo
  • Lt. Stephen Leavins
  • Sgt. Maricela Long
  • Sgt. Scott Craig

Long and Craig are particularly interesting: you may remember them as the dynamic duo who went to an FBI agent’s house and threatened her with arrest.

Also:

The second trial involved deputies with more experience in addition to two sergeants and two lieutenants. But at trial they insisted they were only complying with orders from their superiors.

Ah, yes. The good old “Nuremberg Defense“.

Noted for the historical record.

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Indicted California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee finished third out of a field of eight candidates for the post of California secretary of state, collecting “more than a quarter-million votes“.

As the vote count stood Wednesday morning, Yee finished ahead of ethics watchdog Dan Schnur, a former chairman of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, who framed his campaign around cleaning up Sacramento. Yee also finished ahead of Derek Cressman, a Democrat and former director of the good-government group Common Cause.

Banana republicans watch: May 15, 2014.

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Back in June of last year, two LAPD officers were ambushed as they were returning to their station.

Det. Humberto Tovar and Officer Bernard Romero gave investigators harrowing accounts of the gun battle that erupted moments later. Tovar recalled how the man had walked to the back of the car and fired through a back window. The detective described seeing the flash of the gun’s muzzle and hearing the sound of shattering glass as he prepared to return fire. Tovar and Romero detailed how they had traded shots with the man as he retreated across the wide street and then disappeared into the darkness.

Neither man was seriously injured. I remember this being a pretty big deal at the time (though I don’t seem to have blogged it); it wasn’t just that they were cops being shot at, but also the sheer brazenness of shooting at cops basically in their own backyard.

Well. Well well well. Well.

As they poured over the crime scene, however, members of the department’s Force Investigation Division, which conducts in-depth investigations of each officer shooting, could find no conclusive proof the officers had come under attack. The only bullets and spent shell casings recovered were those belonging to the officers. And a careful examination of the car and surrounding area showed no signs of gunfire from the man. LAPD investigators were unable to link the police vehicle’s shattered windows to the suspect.

Everybody seems to be avoiding the use of words like “staged” and “faked”, but that seems to be the unavoidable implication. The question in my mind is, “Why?”. One possible theory:

Romero, meanwhile, was found to have unintentionally fired four times into the police car’s roof and elsewhere inside the vehicle when the shooting began. He then fired several more rounds over his shoulder in what he believed was the man’s direction.

Could someone have been trying to cover up a negligent discharge by staging a gunfight? Stranger things have happened, though I’m having trouble thinking of many at the moment. Perhaps the drunk NYPD cop who shot his partner, but I’m not sure that rises to the same level as staging a gunfight.

Also worth noting: Det. Tovar has a history. He was fired as part of the Rafael Pérez scandal (and later reinstated).

A corrupt officer told federal authorities of a conversation he had with Perez, who was the central figure in the department’s Rampart scandal. Perez allegedly recounted a time when he had fired his gun. Tovar then allegedly fired his gun as well, not because he was in danger, but in an effort to make Perez’s actions appear more justified, court records show.

Based on what I’ve read about Perez and Rampart, I’d take anything the man says with an entire lick of salt. But I do think it is worth mentioning in the context of what’s happening now.

Banana republicans watch: April 29, 2014.

Tuesday, April 29th, 2014

Richard White Piquette admitted in a document filed in federal court last week that he manufactured a Noveske Rifleworks N-4 .223-caliber rifle with an eight-inch barrel. Under federal law, the rifle’s barrel length should have been at least 16 inches, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.

So what?

Mr. Piquette is a deputy with the LA County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr. Piquette also has admitted to possessing a shotgun “that had been stolen from the Sheriff’s Department” and “three assault weapons that are banned under California law”.

“A lot of these criminals are carrying these types of weapons on the street,” [Ronald] Hedding [Piquette's lawyer] said, adding that Piquette was a jail deputy but had done training stints on patrol.

Really? There’s a lot of short barreled ARs on the streets of LA? I’d love to see some evidence of that.

Hedding said he believed it was common practice for sheriff’s deputies to have weapons like the ones his client possessed.

Then again, given that this is the “first plea agreement by one of 20 sheriff’s officials charged or indicted since December”, Hedding may be right, and the “criminals” who are carrying these types of weapons on the street work for the LA County Sheriff.