January 30, 2017

Prosecution
Soulja Boy charged with felony firearm possession
Soulja Boy was charged Monday with illegal possession of firearms, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office announced. The rapper faces two felony weapons possession charges and one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property. If convicted, he faces over four years in state prison.
Former Nevada prosecutor disbarred for accepting campaign donation bribe
David Wyser, a former deputy prosecutor in Reno, Nevada, was disbarred by the State Bar Court of California on Nov. 4. The attorney, who obtained his law degree from the San Fernando Valley College of Law, pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe on July 2, 2013, a felony conviction.
Former Dodgers security guards arraigned for stealing, selling team merchandise
Two former security guards with the Los Angeles Dodgers accused of stealing team merchandise and reselling it pleaded not guilty Thursday to the charges. The two former guards are accused of working with a third man to move the stolen goods. The third man also pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Lee Baca’s defense team claims double jeopardy as prosecutors move to nix the mini sheriff’s badge
Dueling motions make up the latest round of legal volleys in the ongoing matter of the trial-or more accurately trials-of former Los Angeles County sheriff Lee Baca. Specifically, the defense team has filed a motion stating that, in retrying their client for obstruction of justice, the U.S. Government is illegally exposing him to double jeopardy.
Prosecutor calls pimp’s Los Angeles killings ‘cold’ and ‘calculated’
The “cold” and “calculated” killings of two men, committed less than a week apart by the alleged head of a robbery-prostitution ring, amounted to first-degree murder, a prosecutor told jurors Monday, but a defense attorney said his client’s “rash, impulsive” acts were not premeditated.
Probation officer accused of inappropriately touching girls at youth camp due in court
A Los Angeles probation officer was due in court Thursday after he was charged with sexually assaulting girls at a youth camp, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Oscar David Calderon Jr., a 32-year-old deputy probation officer of about nine years, was accused of inappropriately touching four teen girls, ages 15 to 18 years old, while working at Camp Scudder in Santa Clarita.
Conviction & Sentencing
Sex-robbery ring honcho guilty of midnight double murder: Hooker lures victims to their deaths
The head of a robbery-prostitution ring was convicted Tuesday of murder and other counts stemming from an April 2014 crime spree in which two men were killed and another was wounded in South Los Angeles. Jurors deliberated about three hours before finding Michael Mosby, 25, guilty of first-degree murder for the April 18, 2014, shooting death of 36-year- old Pedro Rodriguez and the April 23, 2014, killing of 29-year-old William Quezada.
Man who vandalized Vietnam War Memorial in Venice sentenced to 4 years in prison
4-year-old man who vandalized a Vietnam War memorial last year in Los Angeles has been sentenced to four years in state prison. A court spokeswoman said Friday that Angel Castro was sentenced in Los Angeles Superior Court after pleading no contest Jan. 13 to vandalism and robbery. Taggers defaced the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Venice just before Memorial Day.
Ex-deputy sentenced to 3 years for molesting girl in Costa Mesa
A judge recently sentenced a former Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputy to three years in prison, 180 days in jail and five years probation for molesting a 12-year-old girl in Costa Mesa in 2015, officials confirmed Monday. The three-year prison sentence was suspended, according to Bobby Taghavi, deputy district attorney with the Sexual Assault Unit of the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.
Law Enforcement
Long Beach murders decline in 2016, overall violent crime up
There were three fewer murders in 2016 than in 2015 in Long Beach, but total violent crime increased by 3.5% in the same period. Mayor Robert Garcia and Police Chief Robert Luna released the 2016 crime statistics Monday. Garcia used the press conference to announce that The Bloomberg Foundation-financed iTeam would be focused on public safety for the next 18 months.
Property crime rises in Santa Monica
As property crime goes up across major cities in California, Santa Monica has also seen an increase in serious crime. Part 1 crimes (including murder, arson, burglary, assault, and grand theft auto) are up 5.5 percent in the city, to a total of 4,515 incidents in 2016. Nearly 90 percent of those incidents are property related and the City’s downtown business area is seeing the most concentrated problem.
No charges against LAPD officers who shot and killed Ezell Ford, D.A. says
Los Angeles County prosecutors said Tuesday they will not criminally charge two Los Angeles police officers who shot and killed Ezell Ford during a clash near his South L.A. home in 2014, drawing the ire of activists who say LAPD officers are rarely held accountable when they use deadly force.
Immigrants in country illegally worry about sharing of personal information
Twelve states and the District of Columbia allow residents who are in the United States illegally to obtain driver’s licenses. California passed its law two years ago. Now more than 800,000 immigrants have taken advantage of that right. But with the arrival of President Trump to power, some of those license holders worry that their private information could be used against them.
Rise in crimes targeting Asian Americans leads to new website
According to the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission’s 2015 Hate Crimes Report, hate crimes in Los Angeles County jumped 24 percent in 2015. Specifically, the report showed that hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans, the majority of which were people of Chinese descent, jumped from six to 18 during this time.
San Gabriel investigating apparent election rally for mayor outside Mission Playhouse
A third-party firm hired by the city will begin an investigation into whether Mayor Chin Ho Liao violated city and state laws when he participated in a rally supporting his re-election campaign outside the city-owned Mission Playhouse, a member of the council confirmed Thursday. In an interview, Liao said the Dec. 29 campaign rally was organized by the Chinese American Artists Association.
Former LA County Sheriff Lee Baca named in eye-gouging lawsuit
A judge ruled today that Los Angeles County and former Sheriff Lee Baca will remain defendants for now in a lawsuit brought by a man who claims an anti-smoking medication was a factor in his psychotic breakdown that led him to gouge his eyes out while in jail. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Marc Marmaro also found, however, that the part of Michael Shabsis’ case against the University of California Board of Regents, a co-defendant in the lawsuit, will have to be shored up.
Accused cops judged only by civilians? LAPD chief objects
Despite opposition from the Los Angeles Police Department chief, the Los Angeles City Council is scheduled to take one final step Tuesday toward placing a measure on the May election ballot that would create an all-civilian review board for police disciplinary hearings. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck says he backs civilian involvement in disciplinary hearings, but rejects the idea of having only civilians – and no cops – making judgement decisions.
New SFPD chief brings his cool, and his friends, from LA
No fewer than 50 Los Angeles police officers, led by Chief Charlie Beck, showed up at San Francisco City Hall on Monday for the swearing-in of Police Chief William Scott. He had a lot of friends in L.A. from his time as deputy chief, and acquired a reputation for keeping his cool. That was never more on display than when he arrived for his San Francisco job interview with members of the Police Commission.
After scandals, a group of civilians ushers in a new era of oversight for the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department
Alicia Michel pleaded in front of the audience, asking for an inquiry into a sheriff’s deputy she said was corrupt. The Compton resident said she didn’t feel comfortable lodging a grievance at her local Los Angeles County sheriff’s station, so instead she spoke into a microphone at a public forum Thursday, hoping her complaint would be heard by those all the way at the top of the department.
District Attorney
L.A. County D.A. faces recall effort after not filing charges in Ezell Ford shooting
llowing L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey’s decision this week not to file charges against two officers in the fatal shooting of a mentally ill black man, a group of civil rights activists Wednesday announced an effort to recall her. “This is a last-ditch measure,” author and activist Earl Ofari Hutchinson, said at a Los Angeles news conference. “Ezell Ford was not the only one. That was the tipping point, but you have a pattern here.”
County Government
Keep the kids out of criminal justice system! Expansion of juvenile programs approved
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously backed a plan to expand juvenile diversion programs that seek to keep kids out of the criminal justice system. Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Janice Hahn proposed the more comprehensive approach. “While there are a number of promising programs, access to them and their accompanying services, like mentoring and restorative justice, depends in large part on where a young person lives and what law enforcement agency is patrolling that region,” their motion says.
LA County supervisor leads effort to deescalate controntations between deputies and homeless
Los Angeles County is taking steps to double-down on its successful program dedicated to helping mentally-ill homeless people when they get into confrontations involving law enforcement officers. Los Angeles County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Mark Ridley-Thomas co-authored a motion to increase the number of Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department/Department of Mental Evaluation Teams from ten to 23.
Sheriff’s drone may spy on you? Skeptical supervisors say ‘not so fast’
The Board of Supervisors asked Los Angeles County’s inspector general Tuesday to review the sheriff’s plan to operate a drone and evaluate those findings with the civilian oversight commission set up as a watchdog for the department. Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended the review, which was unanimously approved by the board. Solis said she supports the use of the drone in search-and-rescue, bomb detection, hostage situations and other critical incidents, but said she was sensitive to concerns about the unmanned aircraft system.
Prison & Parole
California inmate stole identities of 700 fellow prisoners to file fraudulent tax returns
A Marin County man was convicted of using his time in prison not to rehabilitate and learn the error of his ways, but to steal the identities of his fellow inmates and use them to file fake federal tax returns. Howard Webber, 52, was found guilty by a jury Tuesday of conspiring to use stolen identities to file fraudulent tax returns, a scheme that he operated for two years from behind bars that netted him and an accomplice more than $600,000.
Panel recommends parole for Spears, one of four convicted in gruesome killings, rape in Modesto
Marty Don Spears, the ringleader among four teens convicted of murder in the 1979 slayings of Phillip and Kathy Ranzo in Modesto, will be paroled unless Gov. Brown intervenes. State parole board commissioners, over the objections of Stanislaus County Deputy District Attorney Beth De Jong and a group of Ranzo family members and friends in attendance late Thursday afternoon at San Quentin State Prison, determined that Spears should be freed.
What is a ‘violent crime’? For California’s new parole law, the definition is murky- and it matters
Andrew Luster, the great grandson of cosmetics magnate Max Factor, drew global attention in the early 2000s when, after being accused of rape, he jumped his $1-million bail and was later captured in Mexico by a bounty hunter on TV. Ventura County prosecutors said he drugged three women and videotaped the assaults, and a jury convicted him of 86 counts of poisoning, sexual battery and rape of an unconscious or intoxicated person.
Courts
Court backs rules to protect fire victims from being underinsured
California’s insurance commissioner has the authority to adopt rules that protect homeowners whose policies fall far short of the amounts needed to rebuild or replace homes destroyed by wildfires or other disasters, the state Supreme Court ruled Monday. Insurance companies usually give homeowners estimates of the cost of replacing their property so they have an idea of how much coverage to buy.
Appellate court overturns conviction in Oakland double killing
A state appeals court has overturned an Oakland man’s double-murder conviction and life sentence for the fatal shootings of two men in 2010, saying jurors should have heard evidence pointing to another man as the shooter. Deshawn Reed “has suffered a miscarriage of justice,” the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco said Friday in a strongly worded ruling entitling Reed to a new trial.
Convictions in Fisherman’s Wharf killings set aside by court
The murder convictions of a Fisherman’s Wharf shopkeeper who fatally shot two neighboring merchants in 2011 must be reconsidered because of evidence that he was mentally incompetent to stand trial, a state appeals court has ruled. Hong Ri Wu, then 59, was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2014 for killing Qiong Han Chu and Fen Ping Ou, both 30, in the victims’ Jefferson Street shop because he was angry with them for selling the same cut-rate purses he was trying to sell.
Pensions
Local governments grapple with increasing pension costs before higher tab comes in 2018
In South Lake Tahoe, roads are crumbling, and the city is struggling to find ways to repair years of damage caused by harsh weather and snowplows. Orangevale residents worry that fire crews won’t arrive quickly enough in an emergency after their local fire station was closed during the recession. Despite an economic recovery, local government leaders in California say rising pension costs have made it more difficult to restore some programs they cut during the recession.
California schools may face cuts amid skyrocketing pension costs
Public schools around California are bracing for a crisis driven by skyrocketing worker pension costs that are expected to force districts to divert billions of dollars from classrooms into retirement accounts, education officials said. The depth of the funding gap became clear to district leaders when they returned from the holiday break: What they contribute to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, known as CalPERS, will likely double within six years, according to state estimates.
Other News
What to expect in California data security and privacy in 2017
With 2017 underway and the entrance of a new Republican administration and Congress, whether robust regulatory oversight will remain a federal priority is more than uncertain and the area of data privacy and security is no different. The data privacy and security action, however, may continue at the state level where already-active state legislatures and regulators see these areas as a focus.
Meet the new guy running the L.A. County Fair
Miguel Santana recalls as a boy, visiting the Los Angeles County Fair where he had a chance to see farm animals up close and get a peek into farming, a world much different from his own. As a parent, the fair brought a different experience and a whole new set of memories shared with his children. “Looking at the fair through a child’s eye is magical,” Santana said. “You’re absorbing the tastes, the smells and the sounds. … You’re learning while you’re having fun.”
eBay user feedback, fact or fiction?
User Feedback should provide accurate and valuable insight to the Buyers and Sellers involved in eBay transactions, allowing each to build reputations that are based on performance, honesty and comments left by their trading partners – but it doesn’t. The Counterfeit Report®, a popular anti-counterfeiting advocate and website, identified over 2 million counterfeit items listed on eBay and submitted trademark complaints to eBay to remove 1.3 million of the counterfeit items.
Why does California have the nation’s highest poverty rate?
As averaged from 2013 to 2015, California had America’s 17th-highest poverty rate, 15 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But, by a newer, more comprehensive Census accounting, California’s true poverty rate is an eye-popping 20.6 percent-the highest in the nation. What poverty measure a politician or an organization uses can be very informative.
Newsom, Faulconer lead hypothetical 2018 field for California governor
Democratic Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Republican San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer lead a competitive but deeply unsettled field in the 2018 governor’s race, according to a privately-funded survey Wednesday conducted by Public Policy Polling. Newsom is out ahead with 25 percent, while Faulconer is in second at 20 percent. Before going any further, a caveat. A few, actually.
Xavier Becerra confirmed as California’s new attorney general
The state Senate Monday confirmed Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, as California’s new attorney general. Becerra will be sworn in Tuesday by Gov. Jerry Brown and will replace fellow Democrat Kamala Harris, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in November. “It is humbling and exciting to assume responsibility for vigorously advancing the forward-leaning values that make California unique among the many states,” Becerra said.
Presidential Transition
Amid Trump’s funding threats to ‘sanctuary’ cities, police, county sheriffs perform balancing act
Southern California law enforcement officials Wednesday weighed the Trump administration’s order to pull federal dollars from so-called “sanctuary cities” against their hands-off approach to the treatment of immigrants here illegally. Los Angeles police Chief Charlie Beck said his department will follow its decades-old policy of keeping officers focused on local crimes, leaving federal violations such as entering the country illegally in the hands of immigration officials.
Calif. police see dangers in Trump’s immigration plan
President Donald Trump’s plan to enlist local police and sheriff’s departments in immigration enforcement has set the stage for a pitched battle with California officials who have long prioritized building ties with immigrant communities. Trump’s plan, which was issued Wednesday as part of a pair of executive orders, seeks to broaden the reach of federal immigration authorities into county jails.
Trump’s first 100 days: 2 big changes to policing
There were clear signs on the campaign trail that if elected president, Donald Trump would move swiftly to reverse some of the anti-cop sentiment which has gripped the nation during the Obama administration. We didn’t know it would take Trump less than two hours to make moves in that direction. Almost immediately after taking the oath of office as the 45th President of the United States, the Trump administration posted a statement on the White House website entitled, “Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community.”
Voter Fraud: If it can happen in Beverly Hills …
In a city in which an election was won four years ago by seven votes, every vote should count. But only the votes that should count should count. And that’s a problem in Beverly Hills. Voter fraud is real. It’s alive. It’s happening. And we have to stop it. Whether or not it happens at the federal level, we know it happens at the local level. We have seen it ourselves and our own investigations have proven it happens.
L.A. City Council approves hiring an ‘immigrant advocate’ at City Hall
In a move with symbolic timing, the Los Angeles City Council chose the day of Donald Trump’s swearing-in as America’s 45th president to approve the hiring of an “immigrant advocate” at City Hall. Pointing to Trump’s forceful statements on immigration, council President Herb Wesson told his colleagues the city needs to be prepared for policy changes. “We have a responsibility to protect all the residents of the city,” Wesson said Friday.
Tom Dolgenos: Under Trump, death penalty likely to remain
The election of Donald Trump as president and the tumultuous transition of power have dominated headlines for the last few weeks. One issue, however, has not received much coverage: What is going to happen to the death penalty? Before the election, some observers predicted that the end was near for capital punishment in this country. A Pew Research Center poll released in September suggested that public support for the death penalty has declined in recent years.
Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nomination: Why it matters and how it could change the US
There’s been a vacancy since the death of staunch conservative Antonin Scalia almost a year ago. His passing left the court with a 4-4 split of progressive and conservative attitudes for some cases. This is the reason selecting a new Supreme Court justice is a fraught affair. Broadly speaking, Republicans would like to see a conservative fill the vacant seat – while Democrats would prefer to see a progressive justice in the position.
Trump holds White House reception for law enforcement and first responders
President Donald Trump held a White House reception Sunday to honor the law enforcement officers and other first responders who worked the inauguration.
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