Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#21 in a series)

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

“…Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.”

Yes, I am chortling.

Indicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee will soon be convicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee.

Former California state Sen. Leland Yee pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering in federal court Wednesday, admitting that he “knowingly and intentionally agreed with another person” to take part in a criminal enterprise and commit at least two offenses and affect state commerce.

More from the SFChron:

In return for the payments, which totaled $34,600, Yee said in his plea agreement that he promised to vote for legislation his donors favored, recommend a software company for a state contract, arrange a meeting with another state senator over legislation, and illegally import firearms, including automatic weapons, from the Philippines. He said the transactions covered a period between October 2012 and March 2014, when he was planning his campaign for California secretary of state.

You may recall that Yee was a gun control advocate, and was honored by the Brady bunch.

Also pleading guilty to racketeering were Keith Jackson, a former San Francisco school board president who served as a consultant and fundraiser for Yee, Jackson’s son, Brandon, and sports agent Marlon Sullivan.

Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!

The racketeering charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

This appears to be the Federal statutory maximum sentence. As we all should know by now, this figure is misleading. But:

Yee’s plea agreement, as described in court, did not include a recommended sentence. But the agreement for Keith Jackson, who admitted the same charge, specified that prosecutors could seek a maximum of 10 years in prison, and the defense could request a minimum of six years.

And the judge can ignore those requests and recommendations.

The important question: what of Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow? Still awaiting trial, but the judge “asked prosecutors to include Chow, who is still in custody, in the next group scheduled for trial.”

Related question that you may have been wondering about: does the plea deal mean that Yee is going to roll on Chow? I can’t deny it: I love using the phrase “Yee is going to roll on Chow”. But:

The plea agreements do not require any of the four defendants to testify or cooperate with the prosecution, said Brandon Jackson’s lawyer, Tony Tamburello. Both Brandon Jackson and Sullivan pleaded guilty to a racketeering conspiracy involving the Ghee Kung Tong.

The Ghee Kung Tong was Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow’s organization, which is described as “…as a racketeering enterprise that trafficked in drugs, weapons and stolen goods” in the Federal charges against Chow.

Edited to add: Thanks to Ken at Popehat for linking to convicted former California Democratic State Senator Leland “Uncle” Yee’s plea agreement. I apparently can’t copy or paste stuff from the plea agreement PDF, so I’ll just note that Yee specifically admits to the gun running charges in his plea.

Quick random thoughts.

Friday, June 26th, 2015

1.

Bob Willett, a Malone resident, also called 911 Friday afternoon when he found an opened bottle of grape-flavored gin on the kitchen table at his cabin, his cousin, Mitch Johnson, told CNN.

For me, the most amazing part of this breaking story is: grape-flavored gin exists? Because that just sounds god-awful, and I say that as someone who likes regular gin.

2. Apropos of nothing in particular (no, really), I’m thinking I’d like to own a Spiro Agnew watch. But it would have to be one that works: I’m not going to wear a broken wristwatch.

Random notes: June 26, 2015.

Friday, June 26th, 2015

Obit watches: Patrick Macnee. A/V Club. LAT.

Phil “Nick Danger” Austin, founding member of the Firesign Theater, passed away on the 18th, but the paper of record just got around to running his obit.

Shepard Fairey has been charged with two counts of “malicious destruction of property” for tagging buildings in Detroit.

The police say he tagged as many as 14 buildings with his signature images, which include the face of Andre the Giant. Nine of the building or business owners were interested in pressing charges.

Two things from the WP that kind of tickled my fancy:

1. How much water do California pot growers use? The answer is: well, that’s hard to quantify, for obvious reasons. But a group of researchers have made an attempt to come up with a number, and their estimate is that pot growing uses about the same amount of water as almond growing.

2. Don’t let your pet goldfish loose in the nearest pond, because they will become gianormous and screw up the ecosystem.

(Do I need a “Fish” category?)

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#S of a series)

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

Blayne Williams is an officer with the Austin Police Department.

Officer Williams has what might be called a “colorful” history. He was fired in October of 2013 after an incident at a local hotel. Last November, the arbitrator overturned Williams’ firing, reducing it to a 15-day suspension.

Previously, in 2011, Officer Williams was suspended for 90 days after he got into a physical altercation with an HEB employee while he was off duty. He was also charged with “assault on an elderly person”, but that charge was dismissed “and eventually wiped from his record after he completed probation and had the charge expunged”.

The hook now is that Officer Williams is suing. Why? He claims the police department “wrongly passed him up for promotion”. Yes, I kid you not: a guy who has been suspended twice in four years and was almost fired is claiming he should have been promoted to either corporal or detective.

Oh, by the way: in addition to his suit against the city, Officer Williams already has a lawsuit pending in federal court, claiming his firing over the cellphone incident was in retaliation for discrimination claims he’d filed previously.

Hand to God, people, I don’t make this stuff up.

Art (Acevedo), damn it! watch. (#R of a series)

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

I would have sworn that I wrote about APD lieutenant Jason Disher back in October, but I can’t find it now. This one may have gotten past me.

Anyway, Lt. Disher was having an affair with a woman who was married. This was a long lasting affair: Disher told a detective “eight or nine years”. At some point, according to Disher, the woman’s husband “started harassing him and making threatening phone calls”. The detective issued an arrest warrant for the husband.

The woman Disher was having the affair with later came forward and said Disher’s claims that led to the warrant were false. There was an investigation, and Disher was fired.

Old news? Not so fast; if you’ve been hanging around here long enough, you can guess what happened next.

Yes! The arbitrator overturned Disher’s firing! The Statesman doesn’t go into detail on the reasons, and I hesitate to speculate. But isn’t it interesting…

Disher told investigators he was aware that some of the information in the husband’s arrest affidavit was not true, but he made no effort to have it corrected.

Today’s bulletin from the Department of WTF?! (#7 in a series)

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

The FBI and Justice Department are investigating members of the front office of the St. Louis Cardinals to determine whether the organization hacked the computer network of the Houston Astros in order to steal player personnel information.

I was going to make a “how parenthetic do you have to be” joke, but the Astros are actually doing okay this year. The Times story seems to be spinning it as the Cardinals being worried about their secrets being compromised:

Investigators believe Cardinals officials, concerned that Mr. Luhnow had taken their idea and proprietary baseball information to the Astros, examined a master list of passwords used by Mr. Luhnow and the other officials who had joined the Astros when they worked for the Cardinals. The Cardinals officials are believed to have used those passwords to gain access to the Astros’ network, law enforcement officials said.

“Luhnow” is Jeff Luhnow, the current Astros general manager and previously a high-ranking member of the Cardinals management team.

I care very little about baseball, but this should be fascinating to watch. As the papers note, this is the first known instance where one team attempted to hack another team’s computer network for competitive advantage. Ignoring the possibility of some people being convicted of actual Federal crimes, what’s MLB going to do about this? Lifetime bans for anyone proven to be involved?

Obit watch: June 9, 2015.

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Vincent Bugliosi, former LA County deputy DA, the man who prosecuted Charles Manson, and co-author (with Curt Gentry) of Helter Skelter: The True Story of the Manson Murders. (Edited to add: NYT obit.)

(I’m back home now and slowly dipping my toes into the water. After action report to come soon-ish.)

The time has come…

Friday, May 29th, 2015

…to purchase a nice holster.

Hmmmmm. You can get a Dragon Leatherworks Quantum for a Browning Hi-Power…

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena! (#20 in a series)

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

J. Dennis Hastert, a former speaker of the House of Representatives, has been charged with lying to the F.B.I. and making cash withdrawals from banks in a way that was designed to hide that he was paying $3.5 million to someone for his “misconduct” from years ago, a federal indictment released on Thursday said.

My quick thoughts on this mostly resemble Ace of Spades‘:

Point 1: The structuring law is bullshit, and has been frequently abused by the government. The Justice Department actually promised last October that they’d stop seizing assets for “structuring” unless there was some underlying crime. What was Hastert’s underlying crime? Paying someone off, as far as I know, isn’t illegal.

If Hastert voted to make “structuring” illegal, ’tis the sport to have the enginer hoist with his own petard. But a foolish moral consistency makes me believe that if it’s wrong for the Feds to go after other people over this, it’s wrong in Hastert’s case as well.

Point 2:

Last Dec. 8, Mr. Hastert was interviewed by agents. He told federal agents that he was not paying anyone with the money, but was keeping the withdrawals for himself because he felt unsafe with the banking system.
“Yeah,” Mr. Hastert told the agents, according to the indictment. “I kept the cash. That’s what I’m doing.”

Once again, I’m able to quote the timeless wisdom of Ken White:

Really, seriously, just shut the fuck up.

Edited to add 5/29: And speaking of Ken White…

Well, isn’t THIS a shocker?

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Don Carlos Mexican Restaurant is suing Twin Peaks’ ownership company for damages related to the deadly biker gang shootout that left nine dead and 18 others wounded.

Also:

Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton now says crime scene officers have made a new weapons count and come up with 318 “and still counting.” Swanton said he expected the count to continue to rise.
Of those weapons counted so far, 118 are handguns, one is an AK-47 assault-style rifle and 157 are knives. Swanton says weapons still uncounted are clubs, knives, brass knuckles, firearms and chains with padlocks attached.

Yes, 118 plus one plus 157 does not add up to 318.

Random notes: May 18, 2014.

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Lawrence has been on the Waco biker gang shootout like a fat man on a Chinese buffet. I’d encourage you to go here and here for coverage. (I was out and about with friends pretty much all day yesterday, which is why I’m running behind.)

A few random thoughts:

  • Before yesterday, I couldn’t have named five biker gangs; my knowledge pretty much stopped with the Hells Angels, Bandidos, and Mongols (the latter because of their trademark battle). Not that I’m proud of my ignorance or anything, just saying.
  • A lot of yesterday’s stories included some variation on “Twin Peaks corporate office was unavailable for comment”. Of course; it was a Sunday. But I figure there’s got to be a 24/7 emergency number for franchise owners to call…

    “Thank you for calling the Twin Peaks hotline. If you have an emergency, press 1.”

    “Thank you. If your restaurant is on fire, press 1. If your restaurant is flooding, press 2. If there is a shootout between rival biker gangs going on, press 3. If someone is committing an act of regicide, press 4.”

    You have selected regicide. If you know the name of the king or queen being murdered, press one.

  • Speaking of Twin Peaks corporate, Lawrence quotes: “Twin Peaks corporate “is ‘seriously considering revoking’ the Waco location’s franchise agreement.” Gee, you don’t say. (As I was writing this post, the Statesman reported that the franchise has, indeed, been yanked.)
  • “”We are horrified by the criminal, violent acts that occurred outside of our Waco restaurant today.” Shocked, shocked we are to find out that biker gangs used our restaurant as a meeting place. (I know it is early and I’m relying on news media coverage, but it seems pretty well established at this point that this was a biker hangout, and that the management knew it.)
  • Not only did they shoot up Twin Peaks, they walked the check at Denny’s and were rude to the Hooters girls. “They come in here all the time. I’ll keep waiting on them because that is my job. But this whole thing is just so crazy. And it’s also disrespectful, because of lot of those girls at Twin Peaks used to work here.”
  • Seriously, I feel bad for the Twin Peaks and Don Carlos staff, who are probably going to lose at least several days of pay (if not their jobs) over this. Twin Peaks had their liquor license yanked temporarily, though the reports I’ve read say they can reopen as a restaurant “as soon as police allow it to be opened”.

Obit watch: Garo Yepremian, legendary Miami Dolphins kicker.

A while back, I linked to a NYT story about the Clif Bar people ending their sponsorships of certain athletes because of their discomfort with the risk involved. One of those athletes, Dean Potter, was quoted in the article.

Dean Potter was killed in a BASE jumping accident over the weekend.

Penn Jillette on the closing of the Riveria. The Riveria was actually the first place I ever stayed in Vegas.

Finally, and on a lighter note, the NYT ran an interview with Don Rickles. The news peg is that the complete “CPO Sharkey” is being released on DVD Tuesday. I had actually completely forgotten the existence of “CPO Sharkey” (though I’m sure I watched it) until the paper of record reminded me. Man, it is hard getting old.

Edited to add: Well. Well well well. Well.

The Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco will be permanently closed as a result of Sunday’s deadly shooting.

Quel fromage! I wonder what they’re going to replace it with. Maybe a Bikinis? Or perhaps a Bombshells? Wait, wait, I know: perhaps someplace good? Or at least not degrading to women?

Notes from the legal beat: May 15, 2015.

Friday, May 15th, 2015

Latest update from the Philadelphia PD (previously on WCD):

Six ex-narcotics officers accused of going rogue and robbing suspected drug dealers during a six-year reign of terror walked out of federal court yesterday as free men after a jury acquitted them of all charges at the end of a six-week trial.

Among the evidence prosecutors used against the ex-cops was testimony from another former narc cop, Jeffrey Walker, who began to cooperate with investigators after he was caught stealing money and drugs from a house in May 2013. Numerous suspected drug dealers had also testified that the officers threatened them, roughed them up and stole from them. One said he’d been kidnapped and held in a hotel by the cops.

In totallly unrelated news, the WP has an interesting article on PappyGate.

“People don’t want to do the work to find what’s the best whiskey on their palate. They want to be told,” said Lew Bryson, author of the book “Tasting Whiskey.” “Here’s somebody saying this one is the best, and everyone tries to get it. And prices just go up and up.”