Archive for the ‘California Über Alles’ Category

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.

Banana republicans watch: April 9, 2014.

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

Woo hoo woo hoo hoo! A great day!

Five former political leaders in the scandal-plagued city of Bell have agreed to plead no contest to corruption charges and could be sentenced to up to four years in prison for their role in looting the treasury of one of Los Angeles County’s poorest cities.

Let us all say the magic words together now:

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyenas!

(Yes, it is a plea. Yes, they are getting a lighter sentence than they would have if they had gone to trial and been convicted. Yes, they’ve already been convicted of other charges. Yes, it wouldn’t surprise me to see all the sentences served concurrently. But can’t you let me be happy, even if it is just for a short time? Thank you.)

Banana republicans watch: April 8, 2014.

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Samuel In used to be a building inspector in LA.

Samuel In pled guilty to taking $30,000 in bribes while on the job. Samuel In is now serving a 2 1/2 year federal prison sentence.

Samuel In is receiving, and will continue to receive, a $72,000 yearly pension.

Two years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law a measure requiring public employees convicted of a felony to give up retirement benefits earned during the period when their crimes were committed.
But the forfeiture requirement doesn’t apply to Los Angeles because it is governed by the City Council under a voter-approved charter, and the City Council manages its own pension systems.

And:

On top of his $6,030-per-month pension, In receives a monthly healthcare subsidy of $1,459, said Tom Moutes, the top executive at the City Employees’ Retirement System.

Also on FARK, but noted here for the record: Antenna Gate.

With a total of about 160 antennas installed in Southeast Division vehicles, 72 had been removed, Smith said. Twenty antennas from cars in other divisions were missing as well.

Gee, Officer Krupke, if you have nothing to hide, why are you afraid of being recorded?

Your Yee update.

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Mike the Musicologist forwarded an amusing article from the Sacramento Bee about indicted California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee.

Among other things, “Uncle” used campaign funds for his trips to the Philippines, where he allegedly tried to arrange his illegal gun deals:

“Senator Yee said when he arrived, he was surrounded by numerous armed guards carrying automatic rifles,” the affidavit said. “Senator Yee advised the Philippines was a very corrupt country and (the agent) needed to be prepared to pay people at every level during the lifecycle of the deal. Senator Yee reiterated he had been to Mindanao and had an opportunity to shoot some of the weapons discussed with (the agent.)”

Also interesting: “Uncle” spent a total of $62,000 in campaign funds at the New Asia restaurant in San Francisco. I believe this is the New Asia in question.

Last week’s criminal complaint mentions the restaurant as the venue for many events hosted by Chee Kung Tong, an alleged criminal group headed by Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, who also was arrested.

Yeah, you were waiting for “Shrimp Boy” to show up, weren’t you? And by the way, the owner of New Asia is charged with receiving and transporting stolen property: specifically, 15 cases of Johnnie Walker Blue Label.

Edited to add: I was finishing up this post as I was coming off my lunch hour, so I pushed research duties to Mike the Musicologist. For those of you (like me) who aren’t that up on your Johnnie Walker label colors, Blue is at the highest end of the Walker line in regular production (as opposed to the occasional special edition/one off runs). Wikipedia says it goes for $200 – $300 a bottle, but the prices Mike and I turned up were more like $1,000 for a case (six bottles). So we’re talking $15,000 worth of blended Scotch. Not exactly something to sneeze at, for sure, but it seems kind of petty compared to “Tell me about the rockets, Leland!” and contract killers.

Plus, you know, this probably puts New Asia’s liquor license in danger. And what’s a liquor license in San Francisco worth? I bet a lot more than $15K.

FAQ.

Friday, March 28th, 2014

In case you’re coming into the Leland Yee/Raymond “Shrimp Boy” scandal late, and haven’t been reading this blog or Battleswarm, the LAT has a handy guide to the affair, which answers many of the burning questions (such as “why is he called ‘Shrimp Boy’?”).

(I cannot tell a lie: I enjoy typing Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow. Almost as much as – no, strike that, I enjoy it even more than typing Robert “Ratso” Rizzo.)

Also, in case you were wondering, the California state Senate has suspended Sen. Yee without pay. The same august body has also suspended Sen. Roderick White, who was convicted of perjury and voter fraud, and Sen. Ronald Calderon, indicted on bribery and corruption charges.

It just gets better and better.

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

More information about the charges against Leland Yee is trickling out.

As you may recall from yesterday’s post, Senator Yee advocated “tighter restrictions” on “semi-automatic weapons”. Well, guess what? The charges against Senator Yee include “conspiracy to traffic in firearms”.

The full complaint is available from the SFGate site. By way of Overlawyered, we found a summary from San Francisco Magazine (complete with bonus “The Wire” references!):

…he offered to set up an arms deal with Islamic rebels for $2 million in cash.

[The agent] asked about the availability of shoulder fire missiles or rockets. Senator Yee responded ‘I told him about the rockets and things like that.’”

Tell me about the rockets, George Leland!

“In addition to his relationship with Chow and the Chee Kung Tong, Jackson is also a close associate with, and has a long-time relationship with, Senator Yee. Keith Jackson owns and runs a business called ‘Jackson Consultancy,’ a San Francisco based consulting firm. During the time frame from at least May 2011 through the present, Keith Jackson has been involved in raising campaign funds for Senator Yee.”

I single that out because Keith Jackson is apparently a well known “political consultant” and political figure. And he was a former president of the San Francisco Board of Education. And the charges against him, other than gun trafficking and “wire fraud of honest services”, include involvement in a “murder for hire” conspiracy.

I didn’t link to Overlawyered earlier because I wanted to save the best part for last: Yee was named to the “Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll” by the Brady Campaign. Seriously, I am not making this stuff up.

Flames! Flames!

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

State Sen. Leland Yee of San Francisco was arrested Wednesday as part of a public corruption probe after a series of raids by FBI and gang task force officials Wednesday, a law enforcement official told The Times.

Of course, these are just charges, and Senator Yee hasn’t been convicted yet. But I wanted to make note of this arrest, and:

Dan Lieberman, Yee’s press secretary, told The Times his office would not comment on the FBI raids, which were reportedly linked to the arrest Wednesday morning of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.

I didn’t insert “Shrimp Boy”; that’s in the actual LAT article.

I’d really like to know how he got that nickname.

More from the SFChron, which describes “Shrimp Boy” as “a notorious former San Francisco gangster”.

In 1992, the Hong Kong-born Chow was indicted with two dozen others on racketeering charges for their alleged involvement in everything from underage prostitution to the international heroin trade.
Chow was subsequently convicted of gun charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison. In 2003, however, he was released after he cut a deal with the government to testify against a high-ranking associate.

So “Shrimp Boy” served time on gun charges, and is apparently a close friend of Senator Yee. By the way:

Yee has drawn both praise and controversy for his efforts to tighten restrictions on semiautomatic rifles.

Heh. Heh. Heh.

Banana republicans watch: February 27, 2014.

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Somebody has been looking very closely at California police departments.

Five San Francisco police officers and a former officer have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges including extortion, dealing drugs, stealing computers and other property from suspects and searching residential hotels without legal justification.

The criminal indictments appear to be a result of this series of events:

Officers Arshad Razzak, 41, Richard Yick, 36, and Raul Eric Elias, 44, all formerly assigned to the Southern police station at the city’s Hall of Justice, are accused of conspiring to threaten and intimidate residents of single-room occupancy hotel rooms by entering them without legal justification by using a master key.

Razzak and Yick are also accused of falsifying incident reports.

Sgt. Ian Furminger, 47, Officer Edmond Robles, 46, and former Officer Reynaldo Vargas, 45, of Palm Desert, engaged in “multiple criminal conspiracies,” including dealing marijuana, stealing money, a $500 Apple gift card, and other items from suspects, and stealing money, drugs and other valuable items that were seized on behalf of the city, the indictment said.

Other high points: