Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

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…

Strippers. Always with the strippers.

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

This one gives me qualms, as it is a BuzzFeed article (by way of the Popehat on the Twitters). But I haven’t found any other coverage of it, and I don’t think it needs to be buried. I did a Google search and found a lot of links to press releases about the original arrest, but very few about the following events (and those I found were mostly on less reputable websites, basically repeating the BuzzFeed article).

Lauro Tobias was an agent with Customs and Border Patrol. Last year, he was arrested and charged with participating in a drug deal:

…6 kilograms of cocaine were exchanged with unnamed persons for $100,000. Tobias was paid $4,000 for working as security during the deal, based on court documents.

Tobias claimed he thought he was participating in a legal transaction, and had no idea it was actually a drug deal.

Except it wasn’t actually a drug deal. The entire thing appears to have been set up by the government specifically to go after Tobias. Why him?

Tobias’ attorney, Steven West, argued in an interview with BuzzFeed that federal agents tried to turn Tobias bad in order to use him as mole in the border station. “They couldn’t get close to the so-called ‘suspect corrupt people,’” he said. “I think they took a 90-degree turn.”

Okay, that’s just what his defense attorney claimed. Take it with a grain of salt.

But it seems pretty clear, based on the evidence already introduced, that the government spent many thousands of dollars setting up this case.

For instance, according to a court motion filed by Tobias’ attorney, department officials would not release certain information about the investigation during discovery, including “an accounting of how much money was spent on this operation by the government … on hotel rooms, air fare, frequenting adult entertainment establishments, rental car costs, restaurant bills, and any other ‘perks’ that were used to implement the operation, such as the Pacquiao fight at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.”

Again, defense allegations, grain of salt, etc.

But Tobias’ attorney moved for dismissal of the case. And the government agreed and filed its own motion for dismissal. That never happens. (Well, maybe “never” is an exaggeration. But it is very rare.)

An FBI source referred requests for comment on the case to the Justice Department.

I recommend that you don’t hold your breath waiting for comment from Justice. Blue is a very unattractive color for faces.

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.”

Well, isn’t THIS interesting?

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Some of my readers may recall my review of Busted and my complaints about state, local, and Federal officials not taking corruption in the Philadelphia Police Department seriously.

Well.

Well well well. Well.

A group of Philadelphia narcotics officers repeatedly robbed and assaulted the drug suspects they were supposed to be investigating, engaging in a campaign of brutality that lasted nearly six years, federal authorities said Wednesday.

More:

One year later, during an illegal search of a suspect’s home, the officers held a suspect by his ankles off the edge of an 18th-floor balcony while demanding information, according to the complaint.

Somebody’s been watching too many movies.

I have trouble linking to the two Philadelphia newspapers, but I think this one will work for the Inquirer coverage. The names of the indicted cops (Thomas Liciardello, Brian Reynolds, Michael Spicer, Perry Betts, Linwood Norman, and John Speiser) ring a faint bell with me, but they don’t overlap with the cops in Busted. (Possibly they were peripheral characters in that book, but I don’t have it in front of me to check.)

The LAT claims “five of the six officers could face life in prison”, but we should keep Ken’s advice in mind. In any event, it should be interesting to watch this play out; does the chief go next? Does the Philadelphia PD come under federal supervision? And do Ms. Ruderman and Ms. Lasker have anything to say? (There’s nothing on the Daily News site. Philadelphia newspapers are weird.)

Stay tuned to this blog for more “As the Badge Turns”.

Edited to add: Oh, I wanted to highlight this part, too:

In the midst of the scrutiny, Liciardello, Reynolds and a third member of the unit, Jeffrey Walker, filed suit against Philadelphia trial lawyer Michael Pileggi, saying multiple civil rights suits he had filed on behalf of clients alleging abuse had unfairly tarnished their names.

Man, that’s brazen. That’s like Lance Armstrong brazen.

Pileggi’s insurance company settled the case for a relatively small sum. But in an interview Wednesday, the lawyer said all of the allegations in his client’s lawsuits “came to fruition [in the federal case] – beating up, false arrests, stealing.”

Random notes: July 30, 2014.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Followup: longer, better NYT obit for Theodore Van Kirk.

One I should have noted yesterday: legendary University of Kentucky athlete Wah Wah Jones.

Jones is the only University of Kentucky athlete to have his number, 27, retired in two sports, football and basketball. He became known as Wah Wah because that was how his younger sister pronounced his given name, Wallace.

More:

Jones lettered in four sports at Kentucky — he high-jumped in track — and was drafted by the Chicago Bears football team, and offered a contract by the Boston Braves baseball team. He was drafted in the first round by the Washington Capitols — a member of the Basketball Association of America, a forerunner of the National Basketball Association — and traded to Indianapolis, where the nascent N.B.A. was helping the Kentucky players invest in and start a new franchise.

Nearly every criminal case reviewed by the FBI and the Justice Department as part of a massive investigation started in 2012 of problems at the FBI lab has included flawed forensic testimony from the agency, government officials said.

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.

Go to jail. Go directly to jail. Do not pass “Go”. Do not collect $1,000.

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Prosecutors said the detective, a 19-year veteran who works at Police Headquarters, forged another detective’s name, as well as the names of a supervising sergeant and a police inspector, on several forms after a November 2012 arrest in which a gun was seized. The arrest report did not include any associated tip, so the detective added one in order to collect $1,000, prosecutors said.

The detective in question, John Malloy, has been charged with six counts of “felony forgery” (is there “misdemeanor forgery”?), five counts of “offering a false instrument”, “attempted petit larceny”, and “official misconduct”.

Interesting note #1:

…the police have seized more than 3,350 illegal guns and arrested well over 5,500 people on gun charges. The program is viewed as a boon to officers, who get weapons off the streets, and easy money for the anonymous tipsters who collect a $1,000 reward. The foundation has paid out more than $2.1 million in rewards, which are financed by donations.

I wonder who donates to “Operation Gun Stop”. Do you suppose that’s a matter of public record?

Interesting note #2:

But the rate of tips coming into the program has declined over the last five years, according to department reports on the program. In 2008, the Gun Stop program received 731 tips, resulting in 319 guns seized. By 2013, the number of tips had fallen to 496, with 235 guns taken.

Hmmmmm. So in 2013, the NYPD got 261 more tips than guns. I wonder about those 261 other tips…

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.)

…down, down, down, as the flames went higher…

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Ten years in federal prison for former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin.

The judge has recommended a minimum security federal detention center in Oakdale, a city in central Louisiana.