April 17, 2017

Prosecution
California official, 7 others charged in FBI bid-rigging sting
Federal prosecutors have charged a former high-ranking official in California’s veterans affairs department and seven other people in an investigation of alleged bid rigging on public construction contracts, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday. Prosecutors said the investigation that led to the indictment of Eric Worthen, a former assistant deputy secretary in the veterans affairs department, and the seven other defendants was prompted by an earlier probe that ensnared former California state Sen. Leland Yee and San Francisco Chinatown gang tough Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.
Orange County prosecutor’s cheating gains California State Bar attention
Believing she cheated to win a criminal case, the California State Bar is pursuing disciplinary charges against an Orange County prosecutor, who won her government job after her wealthy businessman father contributed money to county law enforcement officials. Prosecutor Sandra Lee Nassar hid key exculpatory evidence in State of California v. Iacullo “in order to secure strategic trial advantage” for the government, according to the Bar.
Did baby daddy order girlfriend’s hit because she refused abortion?
A man accused of finding someone to shoot his pregnant girlfriend in the head is again on trial, alongside the alleged gunman, as two juries listened to opening statements. Prosecutors said Derek Paul Smyer, 36, had 27-year-old Crystal Taylor killed after she refused to have the abortion he demanded.
Former LA District Attorneys decry charges against man who recorded undercover Planned Parenthood videos
Former Los Angeles County District Attorneys Steve Cooley and Brent Ferreira have joined the legal team supporting David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, who was recently charged with 15 felonies for recordings made during the process of investigating the abortion giant Planned Parenthood.
LA County sex crimes deputy DA facing felonies in Orange County
Considering the string of accusations against the Orange County District Attorney’s office, it must be a relief that a prosecutor facing charges here works for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. Nicole Lai Nhu Vo, who in LA County specializes in prosecuting sex crimes, including those with child victims, was charged in Orange County on Tuesday with six felony counts: four of filing false tax returns, one of willful failure to file a tax return and another of failing to report capital gains over $328,000 from the sale of a rental property.
Conviction & Sentencing
Alleged serial killer faces death penalty in random SFV shooting spree
The prosecution announced Tuesday that the death penalty will be sought for an ex-con from Sylmar who’s charged with killing five people in the San Fernando Valley in 2014 — four of them within less than a week. Alexander Hernandez, 36, pleaded not guilty to the murders of Sergio Sanchez on March 14, 2014; Gilardo Morales on Aug. 21, 2014; and Gloria Tovar, Michael Planells and Mariana Franco on Aug. 24, 2014, along with the 11 attempted murders — the bulk of which occurred between Aug. 20-24, 2014.
Pasadena man gets 77 years for murdering sister and wounding nephew
A Pasadena man was sentenced to 77 years to life in state prison after he was convicted in the shooting death of his sister in San Gabriel two years ago. The sentence was handed down Thursday by the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Alhambra against Johnny Goins, 32, after he was found guilty of one count each of first-degree murder and willful, premeditated and deliberate attempted murder, and two counts of shooting at an inhabited dwelling.
Former Northern California tribal chair gets death penalty for shooting, stabbing spree
The former head of a Northern California Indian tribe was sentenced to death Monday for a 2014 rampage inside the tribal hall that left four people dead. In sentencing Cherie Louise Rhoades, Judge Candace Beason called the killings at the Cedarville Rancheria Tribal Headquarters “intentional, premeditated and willful.” Beason rejected the option to modify a Placer County jury’s death sentence to life in prison.
Former LA firefighter sentenced in child porn case
An ex-Los Angeles city firefighter was sentenced today to 42 months behind bars for using a peer-to-peer file-sharing program to amass child pornography. Luis Gutierrez, 50, of Chino Hills, was also ordered by U.S. District Judge R. Gary Klausner to pay a $15,000 fine, register for life as a sex offender, serve a lifetime period of supervised release and pay restitution to be determined by the court.
Antelope Valley man sentenced for recording himself sexually abusing 3-month-old
A Littlerock man was sentenced to 35 years to life in state prison for sexually abusing a 3-month-old family member and taking photos and video while doing it, authorities said Wednesday. Robert Dale Schrader, 26, was sentenced Tuesday. He’ll begin serving his state prison sentence after finishing a more than 21-year federal prison sentence for child pornography, said the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Prison, Parole & Bail
Parole expansion under Prop. 57 could hit by summer
A voter-approved measure to reform parole could begin to send more state prison inmates for hearings by summer, according to recently crafted rules at the state. Proposition 57 will also allow certain state prison inmates to earn more credit for good behavior, completing rehabilitation programs and education while inside, according to the rules released last month by the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
It’s time to do away with California’s cash bail system
On any given day in California, tens of thousands of people sit in county jail not because of a criminal conviction, but because they can’t afford to leave. Such is the travesty of justice that is the cash bail system. At $50,000, the state’s median bail amount is out of reach for most defendants, who tend to be poor or working class.
How big a new jail does Silicon Valley need?
Faced with soaring costs and a dwindling inmate population, Santa Clara County is rethinking plans to replace one of its rundown Main Jail towers, just as blueprints for a new, $365 million high-rise are about to be drawn up. The county’s decision to consider downsizing the 815-bed tower by up to 300 beds reflects California’s continuing retreat from a tough-on-crime, lock-’em-up mentality to a softer approach, particularly in the Bay Area.
Inspector General’s office raises concerns about medical treatment in County jails
Seven of nine Los Angeles County jail inmates that died in custody during the first three months of 2017 died at a hospital, the Office of Inspector General disclosed Tuesday, raising concerns about medical treatment. “The inspector general has been deeply troubled by some of these deaths, the circumstances surrounding them and the medical treatment that was provided,” Chief Deputy Inspector General Dan Baker told the Board of Supervisors.
Officials unveil controversial guidelines for the release of more inmates to relieve prison overcrowding
California corrections officials on Friday unveiled new regulations that will increase the chances of early release for hundreds of state prison inmates, and expand the credits they earn for demonstrating good behavior and completing rehabilitation programs behind bars.
Immigration
Are the roads really safer since illegals got driver licenses?
The idea behind giving driver licenses to illegal immigrants with the passage of Assembly Bill 60 was to make the roads safer.  Illegals driving without a license or insurance, the argument went, would be less likely to be involved in a  “hit and run.”  And since they’d passed a driver license test, illegals behind the wheel would know the rules of the road and be less likely to get into an accident.
California lawmakers vote for stronger immigrant protections
Lawmakers in the California Assembly have voted to strengthen protections for immigrants in the country illegally who are victims or witnesses of crimes. Lawmakers passed a bill Thursday to prohibit law enforcement from detaining a crime victim or witness for a suspected or actual immigration violation. The bill still requires approval by the state Senate and a signature from the governor.
Is a ‘sanctuary state’ constitutional?
Last Monday, the California Senate passed Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León’s California Values Act, also known as the “sanctuary state” bill. Sen. de León called SB 54 “a rejection of President Trump’s false and cynical portrayal of undocumented residents as a lawless community.” If approved, the law would prohibit state and local law enforcement from using resources at their disposal to enforce immigration laws and would leave enforcement solely to ICE.
LA County leaders will weigh legal defense fund, other measures to help undocumented immigrants
A trio of motions aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants and others threatened with deportation, including putting $1 million into a legal defense fund, are scheduled to be voted on Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. City and county officials first proposed the ideas late last year in response to President Donald Trump’s pre-election remarks about deporting people who live in the country illegally.
Police departments say they don’t enforce immigration laws. But their manuals say something different
Like many law enforcement agencies across California, Culver City police say officers don’t enforce federal immigration law. The City Council declared the town a so-called sanctuary city last month, promising to protect the public safety of all city residents, regardless of immigration status. But the Police Department’s manual seems to suggest something different, offering officers guidance on how to stop people suspected of illegally entering the U.S., a misdemeanor under federal law.
ICE halts report of uncooperative agencies
After weeks of pushback alleging inaccuracies, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is suspending its weekly list of law enforcement agencies it claims do not cooperate with requests to detain immigrants living here illegally. Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said his office was advised Monday by ICE Regional Field Office Director Scott Baniecke that they will not publish a Declined Detainer Outcome Report for the week of Feb. 18-24, citing inaccuracies from the previous three weeks — including one Stanek publicly challenged.
LA County leaders will weigh legal defense fund, other measures to help undocumented immigrants
A trio of motions aimed at protecting undocumented immigrants and others threatened with deportation, including putting $1 million into a legal defense fund, are scheduled to be voted on Tuesday by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. City and county officials first proposed the ideas late last year in response to President Donald Trump’s pre-election remarks about deporting people who live in the country illegally.
Law Enforcement
Police: Fatal shooting of Cook County judge may have been attempted robbery
Chicago police say a Cook County judge shot to death Monday morning outside his South Side home might have been the victim of an attempted robbery, though it didn’t appear any possessions were taken from the judge and a woman companion who was wounded. Citing preliminary information, police said the woman, 52, encountered the gunman by the garage of the two-story brick home in the 9400 block of South Forest Avenue around 4:50 a.m.
Officer who forcibly removed passenger from United Airlines flight placed on leave
One of the officers involved in forcibly removing and dragging a passenger from an overbooked United Airlines flight was placed on leave Monday. “The incident on United flight 3411 was not in accordance with our standard operating procedure and the actions of the aviation security officer are obviously not condoned by the Department,” a spokesperson for the Chicago Department of Aviation told TIME.
Cops’ side of story about viral United passenger removal video gets even weirder
By now, most have seen the viral video of a United Airlines passenger being forcibly removed by police from an overbooked flight at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport. Videos of the incident hit social media almost immediately and the story then spread like wildfire. It just looked bad. LawNewz’s own Elura Nanos even suggested the man may have a viable legal claim against the airline over its conduct and handling of the situation.
Legal marijuana ends at airport security, even if it’s rarely stopped
People in 29 states can legally use medical marijuana for a variety of problems, including the relief of pain, anxiety or stress. But what if they want to travel with it? Secure airport areas beyond the Transportation Security Administration checkpoints are under federal control, and the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 (most harmful) substance, even in states where it is legal for adults to consume it.
DOJ, FBI officials say there’s been a surge in teenage hackers
A proliferation of cheap, easy-to-use hacking tools on the dark web is causing an increasing number of U.S. teenagers to commit computer crimes, according to FBI and Justice Department officials. Government lawyers are seeing such a noticeable spike in adolescent cases that it reminds some of the late 1990s, when the term “script kiddies” was first coined.
Cops, deputies are illegal gun merchants? ATF fed fears
The head of the ATF’s office in Los Angeles has sent a memo to Southern California police chiefs and sheriffs saying the agency has found law enforcement officers buying and reselling guns in what could be a violation of federal firearms laws, it was reported Thursday.
Amazon ignores complaints, counterfeit sales scams continue
It’s a simple scam, take a low capacity computer memory card costing a few cents and reprint it with a higher capacity label and a globally recognized trademark. Sell the items on Amazon as authentic for up to $100.00 or more. It’s no bigger than your fingernail, but this tiny replaceable memory card holds your data, photos and contacts in your phone, camera, iPad, tablet, laptop and GPS.
Ingredients for better LE outcomes
In another effort to provide new guidelines on law enforcement’s use of force, the National Consensus Policy on Use of Force (NCP) was recently released by 11 major law enforcement leadership organizations. These policies are set out as a template for agencies for comparison with current policies and improve upon them. We welcome their contribution to the debate over use of force, as they are a drastic improvement over the nonsensical policies put forth in 2016 by the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) without any input from rank-and-file peace officers.
Sheriff’s deputy won’t be charged in domestic violence case but remains on leave as department probes video
Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy at the center of controversy after a YouTube video showed him inside his patrol car ignoring a shooting call won’t face charges in a separate incident in which he was accused of domestic violence. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office declined to prosecute Deputy Jeremy Joseph Fennell in the Jan. 25 domestic violence arrest, citing insufficient evidence of a crime.
Three former LASD officers see cruelty case postponed
Three former sworn officers of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department charged last year with cruelty to a prisoner at the Pitchess Detention Center had their cases postponed until June. The accused men are: James Hawkins, 35; David J. Moser and 62-year-old Rex Taylor, now retired. Among other actions they are accused of, the three are alleged to allowed an inmate “to defecate while naked and skit in his own feces for an extended period of time without just cause.”
California police unions push bill on public disclosure in use-of-force cases
California law enforcement unions are pushing a new law they say will increase public disclosure in cases involving police use of force, but the ACLU says the effort does little to peel back the curtain into police investigations of their own conduct. “I’m glad to see they are recognizing how important transparency is to the community,” said Lizzie Buchen, a legislative advocate for ACLU of California.
Woman, 74, sues after sting and tough questioning over moon rock
A 74-year-old woman can sue a federal agent who held her for up to two hours, in urine-soaked pants, while he questioned her about a tiny piece of moon rock she has said her late husband received as a gift from astronaut Neil Armstrong, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday. The agent who interrogated Joann Davis, as she stood in a restaurant parking lot, argued that his actions were justified because lunar material from the space program is government property that a private citizen cannot legally possess.
Legislation
California is making it easier to start a pot business
Gov. Jerry Brown revealed a proposal last week to simplify statewide rules that govern medical and recreational marijuana sales and production, in anticipation of the launch of the recreational cannabis industry in California in 2018. The proposal, if approved by the Legislature, would make it easier to start a pot business in the Golden State.
How bail reform could affect Shasta County
Bills moving through the state Legislature would radically transform the bail system, effectively eliminating bail requirements for all but those accused of the most serious crimes. They’re being championed by state Democrats and civil rights groups, though local law enforcement leaders said it furthers strips accountability of those accused of crimes. One owner of a local bail bonds business said the legislation would decimate her industry.
Return to three strikes? Aliso Viejo’s mayor letter to the city
Aliso Viejo’s Mayor David C. Harrington writes this month on law and order in California. This is Mayor Harrington’s opinion on AB-109, Proposition 47 and Proposition 57. Three laws, relating to public safety and what it takes to be labeled a criminal in California. Do you agree or disagree?
Bill targets sex trafficking in California
Assemblymember Brian Maienschein is asking fellow lawmakers to give expanded powers to state and local governments. He wants to expand their authority to sue people who are caught paying for sex and to sue the pimps who are enabling the crime. Assembly Bill 1495 is designed to focus attention on those creating the crime, not the victims of sex traffickers.
County Government
Judge refuses to dismiss dozens of criminal charges against former Los Angeles County assessor
A judge refused Monday to dismiss more than a dozen counts of misappropriation of funds against former Los Angeles County assessor John Noguez and his two co-defendants. The motion was filed by defense attorney Vicki Podberesky on behalf of her client, Mark McNeil, 59, once one of Noguez’ chief appraisers, and joined by attorneys for Noguez, 52, and tax agent Ramin Salari, 54.
Courts
Gorsuch sworn in as Supreme Court justice ahead of key cases
Justice Neil Gorsuch, vowing to be a “faithful servant” to the Constitution, was sworn in Monday to the Supreme Court, capping a grueling confirmation process and filling the seat once held by the late Antonin Scalia. The latest addition to the court was sworn in at a public ceremony in the Rose Garden. Justice Anthony Kennedy – Gorsuch’s former boss – administered the Judicial Oath, the second of two Gorsuch took.
State Supreme Court to review law eliminating pension benefit
The state Supreme Court agreed Wednesday to review the legality of 2013 legislation, challenged by labor unions, that eliminated a pension benefit for hundreds of thousands of state and local government employees in California. The justices voted unanimously to grant a hearing to the unions and decide whether the law violated the rights of employees to the pension benefits that were available when they were hired.
U.S. Supreme Court ruling on police provocation could impact Olango lawsuit
Even though a police officer might ultimately be justified in shooting a person during a confrontation, can the officer still be held liable if he was found to have recklessly or intentionally provoked the violent encounter in the first place? It’s a question the U.S. Supreme Court is considering in a Los Angeles-area case, and one that lawyers for El Cajon police say may have bearing on the lawsuit involving the fatal police shooting of Alfred Olango.
CA Supreme Court refuses to hear case against woman convicted of murdering LAPD training officer’s mom
The California Supreme Court refused Wednesday to review the case of a woman convicted of the robbery-motivated shooting death of her 79-year-old aunt, who was the mother of a Los Angeles Police Department training officer. Barbara Jean Davenport was found guilty in September 2015 of first- degree murder and robbery for the June 2, 2012, killing of her aunt. Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation that Cleo Hughes was murdered during the commission of a robbery.
Compton mayoral candidate wants criminal trial delayed
Compton mayoral candidate Omar Bradley on Wednesday asked a judge to postpone a retrial on charges he misappropriated public funds during his previous time in the mayor’s office should he prevail in next week’s primary election or advance to this summer’s general election. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Lomeli told Bradley he is inclined to move his case to another court because of a backlog of cases in his courtroom on the 9th floor of the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
Courthouse News
Man convicted of killing girlfriend on San Fernando Valley freeway loses appeal
A state appeals court panel Thursday upheld a former North Hollywood resident’s conviction for the August 2013 death of his girlfriend, who was stabbed in a moving car and then run over by several vehicles after jumping out of it on the 210 Freeway in Sylmar. The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal found there was “overwhelming evidence” of Ricardo Jimenez’s guilt in the Aug. 29, 2013, death of Maria “Josie” Jimenez, to whom he was not related.
Pensions
California cities’ pension tab seen almost doubling in 5 years
California cities and counties will see their required contributions to the largest U.S. pension fund almost double in five years, according to an analysis by the California Policy Center. In the fiscal year beginning in July, local payments to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System will total $5.3 billion and rise to $9.8 billion in fiscal 2023, according to the right-leaning group that examines public pensions.
Appeals court vindicates San Diego’s 2012 pension cutbacks
A state appeals court on Tuesday vindicated San Diego’s five-year-old aggressive pension cutbacks, potentially saving the city millions it could have been forced to spend creating retroactive pensions for more than 3,000 workers hired since 2012. California’s Fourth District Court of Appeal unanimously overturned a 2015 state labor board ruling that said the cutbacks were illegal because of then-Mayor Jerry Sanders’ involvement in the successful citizens’ initiative that made the changes.
No TweetBacks yet. (Be the first to Tweet this post)