Monday Morning Memo for December 19, 2016

Attorneys paint dueling portraits of obstruction in Baca trial
Five years ago, when then-Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca appointed Paul Tanaka as second in command of one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the nation, the Japanese-American lawman became his boss’ confidant and likely successor. In 1998, Tanaka supported Baca’s campaign for the sheriff rather than backing the incumbent Sheriff Sherman Block. 
Ex-Sheriff’s deputy recalls culture of abuse in jails under Lee Baca
A convicted Los Angeles County deputy whose actions within the Men’s Central Jail triggered criminal charges against former Sheriff Lee Baca and many others down the chain of command, recounted for a jury Tuesday how the culture of abuse against inmates was commonplace, and how he got caught.
Man who was shot by LAPD during exchange of gunfire is charged with attempted murder
Prosecutors have charged a 23-year-old man with attempted murder after he allegedly shot at police in South L.A., prompting one officer to fire back and wound him. Quentin Durity also faces charges of assault on a peace officer and being a felon in possession of a firearm, according to Greg Risling, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office. He is scheduled to be arraigned in January.
Robert Durst’s lawyers challenge evidence and accuse prosecutor of ‘deceptive’ jailhouse interview
Robert Durst has said he’s eager to let a Los Angeles jury decide whether he killed his friend and confidant Susan Berman, but a brewing legal battle may impede the start of any trial. Attorneys for Durst filed court papers Thursday that challenge some of the evidence against the eccentric millionaire and offer a clearer glimpse into their defense.
Conviction & Sentencing
Man convicted of Hollywood murder of woman from Morro Bay
A Los Angels jury convicted a marijuana dispensary security guard and small business owner for the murder of Carrie Jean Melvin, 30, who grew up in Morro Bay. Ezeoma Obioha, 32, is now facing the possibility of receiving life in prison without parole. In July 2015, Melvin was walking with her boyfriend near Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood when a gunman walked up behind them, fired one round into Melvin’s face and fled.
Murder of girlfriend’s sleeping grandparents ‘cowardly act’
A young man was convicted Friday of the murders of his 14-year-old girlfriend’s grandparents, who were stabbed in their bed in Rosemead more than six years ago. The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated about two days before finding Roldolfo Lopez, 27, guilty of first-degree murder for the Aug. 9, 2010, killings of Jack Bezner, 71, and his 64-year-old wife, Susan.
Man who spent nearly 20 years on California death row dies
A man who has been on California’s death row for nearly two decades for a double killing has died. Authorities say 65-year-old Dennis Webb died Tuesday at a hospital. An autopsy will try to determine the cause of death. Webb has been on San Quentin’s death row since 1988. Prosecutors say the Utah parolee had been out of prison for two months when he broke into an Atascadero lodge in 1987.
Law Enforcement
Busted! Officials arrest 38 ‘notorious LA-area gang members’
More than three-dozen gang members wanted for crimes including murder stemming from a gang war that has terrorized an area dubbed the Vermont Corridor have been arrested by a task force composed of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Marshals Service, Sheriff Jim McDonnell announced Monday.
Sheriff Clarke pushes for federal death penalty for cop killers
In the wake of the latest deadly attack on police officers in the United States, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said the government needs to take a tougher line with cop killers, PJ Media reports. On Wednesday, Americus police Officer Nicholas Smarr, age 25, and Georgia Southwestern State University public saftery officer Jody Smith, age 26, were allegedly shot by career criminal Minquell Kennedy Lembrick after responding to a domestic disturbance call. Both officers sadly succumbed to their injuries — Smarr shortly after the incident and Smith on Thursday evening.
DEA dismissed its own misconceptions about pot, group says
Defending the government’s classification of marijuana as one of the most dangerous drugs, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration declares on its website that pot causes mental illness and lung cancer and leads youths to heroin and cocaine. But an advocacy group says the DEA, in a legal filing in August, said it found no evidence to support any of those conclusions.
Crime rates going up in Monrovia
At a community meeting last week to warn citizens of the potentials of holiday theft, representatives of the Monrovia Police Department shares crime statistics for the city that showed a marked increase in criminal activity. In his weekly City Manager’s Update, Oliver Chi wrote, “crime rates in Monrovia are up 25 percent in 2016, when compared against 2015 crime levels.”
Consumer group warns of counterfeit items on eBay
Buyer beware is good advice to consumers in general, but especially when purchasing items online from an individual or company you know little about. The Counterfeit Report, a consumer watchdog that focuses on knock-off products, has warned that many counterfeit microSDHC memory cards are showing up on eBay, posing a threat to unsuspecting consumers.
Feds launch investigation into Orange County D.A.’s Office, Sheriff’s Department over jailhouse informants
The U.S. Department of Justice launched a civil rights investigation of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office and the Sheriff’s Department on Thursday over allegations that prosecutors and deputies withhold evidence and use jailhouse informants to illegally obtain confessions.
Redlands police Chief Garcia: Crime rate is up, could spike again
Redlands is feeling the impact of changes made to the state’s criminal justice system, according to Police Chief Mark Garcia. One of the ways the department can address increases in crime is through its partnership with the community, he said. “This is an issue that we need to always be aware of in our community and other communities across the country where we promote “See something, say something,” Garcia said.
Feds seek repeat of disastrous police hiring practices
ALADS has always been in support of hiring the best candidates possible to be deputy sheriffs and district attorney investigators. We are proud to represent more than 7,900 deputies and district attorney investigators who reflect the racial diversity of Los Angeles County. The Sheriff’s Department’s diversity has contributed to the department’s success of ensuring the safety of residents and building trust in the communities it serves.
Emanuel opens the door to relaxing police hiring standards
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday opened the door to allowing candidates with minor drug and criminal offenses to become Chicago Police officers to attract minorities at a time of high crime and deep distrust. Emanuel said he’s leaning toward relaxing the hiring rules at the behest of three powerful aldermen.
Encino doctor accused of sexual assault claims LAPD ‘humiliated’ him during arrest
A doctor arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting female patients in his Encino office during medical examinations insisted Wednesday he’s innocent, and that police went too far when they arrested him. “The thing is, it’s a character attack,” Dr. Michael Howard Popkin, an internist who lives in Granada Hills, said in a telephone interview. “I’m innocent of the charges. That’s the only way I’m going to be able to clear my name, clear my reputation.”
Mayor Garcetti discusses LA’s rise in hate crimes after election
On ABC7’s “Eyewitness Newsmakers: Ask the Mayor,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said reports of hate crimes in Los Angeles have doubled since the presidential election. While 30 reports is still a relatively low number, the mayor said incidents of troubling race-based comments are also on the rise. In the days since the fatal Oakland fire, Garcetti said Los Angeles police and fire are working together to head off a similar circumstance here.
FBI releases 2015 crime statistics from the national incident-based reporting system, encourages transition
Today, the FBI released details on more than 5.6 million criminal offenses reported via the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) in 2015. The Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program’s latest report, NIBRS, 2015, provides a diverse range of information about victims, known offenders, and relationships for 23 offense categories comprised of 49 offenses.
Ballot Measures
Drug busts drop as cops question if they’re worth it
William Bennett, 31, was sleeping on a beachfront walkway when a cop woke him up. The longtime addict was on probation, so he had to let police search him. A speck of heroin was tucked in his wallet. Two years ago, Bennett would have faced handcuffs, a felony and possibly a few years behind bars. But on this November night in Ventura, a Southern California beach town, police wrote him a ticket and let him go.
Former felons find new jobs and new hope after Prop 47
Drill in hand, Tim Wilson kneels to open up a broken air conditioner in Redding, Calif. Repair work like this is steady, but Wilson dreams of more. He wants to be a nurse, and for the first time in a long time, it’s not just a fantasy. Wilson, 42, a former meth addict, had three felony convictions reduced to misdemeanors under Proposition 47, which allowed some felons to retroactively change their records.
Two years after Prop 47, addicts walk free with nowhere to go
Ruben Lopez Jr. wakes up on a rundown leather couch inside a dingy auto shop in the Los Angeles suburbs. He feels the familiar temptation of an old enemy. His body aches, his mind buzzes, his nose runs and his stomach twists. He craves meth just to steady himself and knows it is only two blocks away, at a small homeless camp under a bridge.
Want to see more pot shops in L.A.? You’ll get to vote on it
Last week a core group of quasi-legal marijuana dispensaries in L.A. threw its weight behind Proposition M, the City Council-sponsored measure that would fully legalize the city’s current medical pot collectives and likely would provide permitting for future recreational ones. The measure also would expand the number of legit shops and likely allow delivery services such as Speed Weed to operate in town.
Yes, smoking pot can keep you from being able to buy a gun, and other pot questions answered
Marijuana was legalized in California this past November, but the laws around legal weed are anything but straightforward. For weeks now, we’ve been fielding and answering listener questions about the new legal pot landscape. IS IT TRUE THAT THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CAN DENY YOUR RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS IF YOU SMOKE POT? Yes. If you want to purchase a firearm and you’re a marijuana user, you can be turned away.
Marijuana factions join forces to fully legalize L.A. pot shops
A group representing a number of quasi-legal pot shops in the city of L.A. will throw its considerable weight behind a City Hall-sponsored effort to make those dispensaries fully legal. The organization, the United Cannabis Business Alliance, is scrapping its own measure, which already had qualified for the March ballot.
How police organizations think Trump can help them
National law enforcement advocacy groups are hopeful that President-elect Donald Trump may loosen restrictions on law enforcement’s access to military equipment. The Fraternal Order of Police, an organization made up of officers that often speaks out on issues related to police, endorsed Donald Trump during the election. The national president, Chuck Canterbury, told Politico at the time that Trump “understands and supports our priorities and our members believe he will make America safe again.”
Proposition 64: Legalizing pot a game-changer for many
When California residents voted nearly five weeks ago, one of their major decisions was whether to approve Proposition 64, a ballot measure touted by its supporters as the “Adult Use of Marijuana Act.” Most relevant for most Proposition 64 voters was the opportunity to approve or reject legalizing the use of marijuana for recreational purposes in California. The measure passed with more than 57 percent of the vote in the state and nearly 52 percent in San Joaquin County.
Proposal to decriminalize street vending in Los Angeles advances
Los Angeles is the only major city in America that prohibits street vending, but that may be changing after a City Council committee advanced a proposal to decriminalize it on Monday. The proposal put forward by council members Joe Buscaino and Curren Price would replace criminal penalties with a permit system enforced through fines and property confiscation.
Spokeo returns to Ninth Circuit: Was injury ‘concrete?’
How concrete a plaintiff’s injury must be to sue in federal court will be back before the Ninth Circuit Dec. 13 when it hears oral arguments in a consumer privacy case on remand from the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court held in May that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit wasn’t thorough enough on the first go-round in its analysis of whether the plaintiff’s injury was concrete as well as particular to him.
How a doctor’s note landed an ex-L.A. Trade Tech Foundation director in jail
The doctor’s letter filed with the court had a simple message: His patient should avoid manual labor for her community service. Jiah “Rhea” Chung, who had been ordered to pick up trash for Caltrans as punishment for embezzling from the Los Angeles Trade Technical College Foundation, was “undergoing a medical evaluation of her heart and lung condition and intolerance to physical labor,” the doctor’s note said.
Lawsuit seeks to decriminalize prostitution in California; anti-porn group warns of sex trafficking link
An anti-pornography organization has filed an amicus brief against a lawsuit aimed at decriminalizing prostitution in the state of California. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation filed the brief in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday in the case of Erotic Service Providers Legal, Education and Research Project v. George Gascon et al.
2024 Olympics
L.A. will fight Inglewood plans for 2024 Olympics opening/closing ceremonies
Los Angeles 2024 plans to shift the Olympics Opening or Closing ceremonies from the Coliseum to a new stadium in Inglewood would face intense scrutiny from the Los Angeles City Council, council members said Friday. LA 2024 chief executive Gene Sykes would not directly answer questions about moving the ceremonies to the $2.8billion Inglewood stadium being built by real estate developer and Rams owner Stan Kroenke on the former site of Hollywood Park.
What’s the matter with the L.A. Times?
By the time Scott Glover set his sights on the nation’s prescription drug abuse epidemic, he had already proved himself to be one of the most talented investigative journalists in the Los Angeles Times newsroom. His instinct for identifying betrayals of the public trust-and the resourcefulness with which he went after those responsible-had led to some of the paper’s biggest scoops.
Presidential Transition
CA lawmakers prep to safeguard databases with info on immigrants here illlegally
Ever since Maribel Solache began teaching her own version of driver’s ed in Spanish two years ago, the classes – held around San Diego County – have been jammed. She estimates she’s helped some 3,000 students earn their licenses. But lately, apprehension has smothered that enthusiasm. “More people come with fear. They say, ‘What is going to happen to my information?'” Solache said.
How police organizations think Trump can help them
National law enforcement advocacy groups are hopeful that President-elect Donald Trump may loosen restrictions on law enforcement’s access to military equipment. The Fraternal Order of Police, an organization made up of officers that often speaks out on issues related to police, endorsed Donald Trump during the election.
California vs. Trump bout shaping up — Any hope that California would soon settle into some sort of accommodation with a Trump Administration is fading rapidly. During the past two weeks, this happened: President-elect Donald Trump named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as his choice to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the federal enforcer of rules governing clean air, clean water, toxics cleanup and other chores.
Send Trump California’s gang database: A holiday gift with a giant red bow
On January 20, 2017, when President-elect Donald Trump takes his oath of office, California officials should present him a delayed holiday present: The gift of our state database of 150,000 known gang members and their affiliates. Although the California State Auditor has found dozens of instances of inaccurate and questionable information in the Gang database, state officials can give Trump only the names of those that have been verified as undocumented gang members and who have committed deportable crimes.

Recommended Posts