Archive for the ‘California Über Alles’ Category

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.

Cue the sad tiny violins…

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Second day story on the Robert “Ratso” Rizzo sentencing. Not much new, but linked here for the historical record.

He developed a reputation as a micromanager who pinched pennies even as he burnished the city’s image, adding a miniature golf course and pristine playing fields.

Okay, the miniature golf course is the first good thing I’ve heard about him.

Taylor said most of Rizzo’s money and assets appeared to have been squandered on real estate investments and about 30 racehorses that would have cost more to care for than what they were worth.

I knew about Ratso’s horse racing, but “more to care for than what they were worth”? Hadn’t heard that before.

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#11 in a series)

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Robert “Ratso” Rizzo has just been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

This is breaking news: watch this space for updates and links.

Edited to add: link with more details.

In addition to the prison sentence, Ratso will also have to pay $8.8 million in restitution to the city of Bell: but he will get credit for “money he and the city’s former police chief have already returned to the city”.

The LAT also states that Ratso will be allowed to serve this sentence concurrently with his 33 month sentence on tax fraud charges. One of the LAT‘s editors tweets:

In other news, Superintendent Jose Fernandez of the Centinela Valley Union High School District was paid $674,559 last year. For comparison purposes, the head of the NYC schools made $412,193. The head of the LA school district made $393,106.

The district gave him $230,213 to purchase more seniority in state retirement systems so he would receive a higher annual pension.

Isn’t that kind of “Here, let us give you some money so you can end up taking even more money out of our pockets?”

The FBI may be investigating. Or at least asking questions before they start an investigation. (I’m not sure what laws may have been broken: being paid a lot of money isn’t a crime by itself.)

From 2010 through 2012 he also did well — and progressively better — making $310,965, $382,370 and $407,786 respectively, according to district records Fernandez provided after a California Public Records Act request.

Doesn’t that still seem kind of high? The Centinela school district has “6,600 students, five high schools and a $70-million budget.” There seems to be an argument being made that Fernandez pulled the district out of possible bankruptcy; but at the same time, there are also claims that teachers were being laid off while he was getting paid to purchase more seniority in the retirement system.

Edited to add 2:

“I can’t go anywhere,” Rizzo murmured.

On a completely unrelated note, there’s an iPhone app called “Tiny Violin“.

Banana republicans watch: April 15, 2014.

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

I have written before about the California city of Cudahy: election fraud, marijuana dispensary bribes, the bimbo and the badge, payoffs in the Denny’s

Latest developments:

City leaders in one of Los Angeles County’s poorest cities used city-issued credit cards for excessive travel, meals and entertainment, mismanaged state funds and had virtually no internal controls to prevent the misuse of taxpayer dollars, the state controller concluded in a scathing audit released Tuesday.

The city has been ordered to repay $22.7 million in “redevelopment funds”.

On a totally unrelated note, here because I just love typing the name, Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow has pled not guilty to the charges against him.

Better to light one small candle…

Monday, April 14th, 2014

…than to let the tax-fattened hyena get away without going down in flames.

Robert “Ratso” Rizzo has been sentenced to 33 months in federal prison on his tax fraud charges.

He was also ordered to pay $256,000 in restitution to the federal government.

As I noted earlier, this sentence will likely run concurrently with his sentence on the Bell corruption charges, which will be handed down Wednesday.

Banana republicans watch: April 10, 2014.

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

Woo hoo woo hoo hoo!

Eleven years and eight months in prison for Angela Spaccia, former assistant city administrator for the notoriously corrupt city of Bell.

And speaking of the notoriously corrupt city of Bell, here’s second day coverage of the plea deals by the former city council members.

As part of the deal, each will pay restitution to Bell, which was left on the brink of bankruptcy, largely because of the large salaries paid.

Also:

“I don’t imagine any of you are planning on running for public office again, but you will be precluded from doing so,” [L.A. County Superior Court Judge Kathleen] Kennedy told them in court.

Edited to add 4/11: Second day story on the Spaccia conviction. Nut from that story: in addition to the prison time, Spaccia has also been ordered to pay $8 million in restitution.