Morning Memo for Monday, July 31, 2017
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CONVICTION & SENTENCING
Ex-LA County Sheriff Lee Baca avoids surrender to prison, for now
A motion was filed on behalf of former Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca on Monday, asking the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to allow bail pending a request for another trial. The filing automatically triggers a temporary stay, meaning Baca does not have to surrender to the federal Bureau of Prisons on Tuesday.
LA Sheriff Baca’s prosecutor reflects on corruption that ‘shocked’ him
Brandon Fox sits in his new office at the law firm of Jenner & Block on the 35th floor of the U.S. Bank building in downtown Los Angeles, and reflects on the intense legal battles he led against former L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca and numerous other sheriff’s officials at the federal courthouse a few blocks away. “We needed to do something to stop that culture” of impunity, he says.
Sad resentencing for celeb private eye Anthony Pellicano: Chris Rock was client
Imprisoned private eye-to-the stars Anthony Pellicano is scheduled to be re-sentenced Monday after a federal appeals court tossed his computer fraud convictions. Operating out of an office on the Sunset Strip, Pellicano, now 73, was hired for decades by some of Hollywood’s wealthiest deal-makers to dig up dirt on their own or clients’ enemies.
Bail reduced for activist accused of assault, rioting during last year’s Capitol melee
A Sacramento judge on Monday reduced activist Michael Williams’ bail to $50,000 for his alleged role in last year’s brawl between white supremacists and counter-demonstrators at the State Capitol. Visiting Sacramento Superior Court Judge Joseph Orr dropped Williams’ bail by $450,000 after Williams’ attorney Linda Parisi argued that her client has led a “relatively crime-free life” for decades.
Fake cop does real time for sex attacks in Hollywood
An Orange County man has been sentenced to 115 years to life in prison for impersonating a police officer and fondling two women in separate incidents in the Hollywood area and ordering another woman to take off her clothes. Christoph Moore, 41, of Anaheim, had been convicted June 20 of one felony count each of assault with intent to commit a sexual assault, criminal threats, grand theft and second-degree burglary and two counts of false imprisonment by violence.
California finds that new gun laws are easier to pass than enact
For advocates of stricter gun laws, a sweeping package of new legislation signed by California’s governor in July 2016 – and a similar set of measures approved by the state’s voters in a referendum four months later – served as rare bright spots in a year that they would otherwise rather forget.
New law provides young sexual abuse victims with mental health help
California law now mandates mental health help for young victims of sexual abuse. Psychological trauma treatment for victims under 14 years old will be paid for by predators after Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 756 into law. The bill, which earned bipartisan support in both the Senate and Assembly, is the first of Senator Henry Stern’s (D-Canoga Park) bills to be signed into law during his freshman legislative season.
Law places limits on interviewing alleged child sex abuse victims
Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a measure placing limits on how alleged child sexual assault victims may be interviewed during civil legal proceedings. State Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) said he authored the bill after meeting with parents who decided not to file suit because they were afraid defense lawyers would traumatize their children. He also met with parents who felt defense attorneys’ experts had manipulated their children.
Spurred by deaths, Legislature advances idea of legal spots to inject illegal drugs
Many California communities could open centers inviting addicts to shoot up hard drugs under a little-noticed bill that has cleared the state Assembly and now awaits a vote on the Senate floor. The goal is to reduce deaths. Here’s how the concept- modeled after a supervised drug injection facility in Vancouver, Canada-works: A user walks into a government-run clinic with some heroin in his pocket.
Goldstein Investigation: Did LA County go easy on 2 firefighters accused in horrific assault?
Sammy Chang began videotaping on his cellphone when he says off-duty LA City firefighter Eric Carpenter began following him on Halloween night 2015. Chang, a 23-year-old college student, said within moments other partygoers began to follow. He said he was out that night giving out free candy in a Chatsworth neighborhood where his grandmother lived. Carpenter, and the others – including another off-duty fireman – accused him of giving out drug-laced candy.
19 Mexican mafia associates charged after 3 year investigation: DA
San Diego law enforcement filed charges against 19 associates of a Mexican gang known as “Eme,” or “La Eme,” and arrested 10 of them Thursday. Most of the associates arrested were active gang members and had prior criminal history, according to the San Diego District County Attorney’s Office. Law enforcement also seized $51,000 in cash, methamphetamine, and heroin.
No contest plea for woman accused of kidnapping slain half-sister’s children
A woman accused of kidnapping and abandoning her slain half-sister’s children pleaded no contest on Wednesday, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Brittney Sue Humphrey was accused of kidnapping Kimberly Harvill’s three children – ages 5, 3, and 2 – then abandoning them in a New Mexico motel room. Humphrey’s boyfriend, Joshua Robertson, 27, and Alex Valdez, 29, are charged with murdering Harvill, whose body was discovered in a remote area of Gorman on Aug. 14, 2016.
Uber driver pleads not guilty to raping female passenger
An Uber driver accused of raping a female passenger at a North Hollywood motel while the 24-year-old woman was unconscious pleaded not guilty Monday to felony charges. Alaric Spence, 46, faces up to 15 years to life in state prison if convicted of one felony count each of kidnapping to commit rape, rape of an unconscious person and rape by use of drugs, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
A who’s who of people vying to fill in as Contra Costa District Attorney
Who wants it? Here’s a rundown of the people vying to fill on an interim basis the vacant seat of Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark A. Peterson, who resigned in disgrace June 14.
Madera County D.A. and residents fight to keep convicted arsonist in prison
Residents of Yosemite Lakes Park took action Wednesday night. They’re beefing up the opposition against the release of a convicted arsonist. Kenneth Jackson is up for parole next month. He’s serving the third year of a 30-year sentence. Jackson was found guilty on 21 counts of arson in 2014. His chances lean on a new law we know as Prop 57.
PRISON, JAIL & PAROLE
More California inmates are getting a second chance as parole board enters new era of discretion
An Alameda County probation report details facts that Kao Saelee can’t change: He was 17 and armed with a sawed-off shotgun when he and three friends opened fire on a group of teens they believed belonged to a rival Oakland gang. The spray of bullets instead struck Tsee Yorn and San Fou Saechao, both 13. It killed 7-year-old Sausio Saephan, a second-grader at nearby Garfield Elementary School who had tagged along with his older brother and was shot in the neck.
Officials frustrated with AB 109, jail overcrowding effects in the Northstate
The statewide issue of prison overcrowding is affecting the Northstate, from making certain laws more lenient to filling the local jail with out of county criminals. Law enforcement and the District Attorney’s office are seeing the effects of these policies every day. Redding Police are frustrated over their role in the rising tide of property and drug crimes in Redding, and they attribute a lot of that to the more lenient laws being put into place because of AB 109, Propositions 47, and 57.
Sobering center, out of county jail beds part of public safety plan
Shasta County will explore housing inmates out of county and operating a sobering center in the county jail to improve public safety. The proposals hinge on cobbling together funding from a loan, dipping into county reserves, a partnership with the city of Redding and the sale of the former Redding police station. County Executive Officer Larry Lees and Sheriff Tom Bosenko presented the options to the Board of Supervisors earlier this week.
CALPIA expands rehabilitative programs
The California Prison Industry Board approved a $12 million project, during the June 29 meeting, to expand Career Technical Education (CTE) programs through the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) as part of a $237 million budget for 2017-18. The expansion includes extending the highly successful Code.7370, Computer Coding program to Pelican Bay State Prison and the Ventura Youth Correctional Facility, expanding a facilities maintenance program statewide, and increasing the number of pre-apprentice programs that partner with trade unions throughout the State, including Folsom State Prison (FSP).
5 Orange County deputies on leave following inmate’s death
Authorities say five deputies are on paid leave and two investigations are under way following the killing of an inmate at a Southern California jail. Sheriff’s officials say Danny Pham died this month at Orange County’s Central Jail Complex. The 27-year-old was serving 180 days for car theft. The Orange County Register reports Pham was sharing a cell with an accused double-murderer.
Convicted Yosemite Lakes Park arsonist could be released from prison early
A convicted arsonist who set fires all over the Yosemite Lakes Park area may be released long before his prison sentence is up. The string of fires happened back in 2013 and burned up properties and costing thousands in damages. Now because of Prop 57, the convicted arsonist could get his freedom back. Kenneth Jackson, the convicted arsonist is serving his third year of his thirty year sentence.
As RV towing resumes in LA, officials say program won’t ‘target homeless’
More than four months after a pair of towing contractors quit, Los Angeles is expected this week to begin clearing a “backlog” of motor homes parked illegally on city streets. Citing sanitation issues and the lack of a financial incentive, contractors have been reluctant to take impound orders for RVs, many of which belong to the homeless.
Undocumented immigrant driver’s licenses near milestone in California
Nearly a million undocumented drivers could be licensed in California by the end of the year. Through June 2017, the Department of Motor Vehicles has issued approximately 905,000 driver’s licenses under Assembly Bill 60, the law requiring applicants to prove only their identity and California residency, rather than their legal presence in the state.
Ammo could be pricier and harder to get in California if pols have their way
Gun owners in California may soon be required to undergo background checks before purchasing ammunition – and even more proposed regulations could result in higher ammo prices across the state,Guns.com reports. Also known as The Safety for All Act of 2016, Proposition 63 is meant to close perceived loopholes in California’s gun control laws.
Veteran LAPD detective sharply criticized plea deal for firefighter in Halloween assault case
One of the Los Angeles Police Department’s top investigators sharply criticized a plea deal given to an off-duty city firefighter who choked a man unconscious, and he asked a judge to view video of the violence before sparing the defendant jail time, according to court records.
Years after brutal stabbing, East L.A. bar owner’s slaying solved by LAPD reserve police officer
The last customers had left, and Alfredo Trevino was closing up the bar on Dec. 17, 2001 when two men in ski masks walked in and began stabbing him. When it was over, Trevino lay dead on the floor of La Cita, the bar he owned in Boyle Heights, his body pierced with 104 stab wounds. The assailants had also beaten Trevino, a 71-year-old Mexican immigrant, with the cash register but had not taken the money.
Former LA city councilman’s detective work helps crack 2001 cold case
DNA evidence and a former San Fernando Valley city councilman helped solve the grisly, 2001 cold case of a Korean War veteran who was stabbed more than 100 times in his East Los Angeles bar, police said this week. Former Los Angeles City Councilman Greig Smith has worked part time for the Los Angeles Police Department as a reserve officer since 1992.
With 200,000 cars stolen, why vehicle thieves love the Inland Empire
Amy Hoffman felt violated. Hoffman’s 1997 Honda Accord was stolen out of her driveway in Riverside in 2014 and was found two weeks later, spray painted, the rims missing and the dashboard ripped out. Three people in the car were arrested. “I felt like a rape victim getting in my car,” said Hoffman, 28, a two-time car theft victim. “My car smelled like them and they had been sitting on my seats, and I didn’t want to touch anything they touched.”
Los Angeles officer charged with having sex with teen cadet
Prosecutors say a Los Angeles police officer has been charged with sexually assaulting a 15-year-old cadet. The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office says Robert Cain is expected to be arraigned Friday on charges that include unlawful sexual intercourse. Cain was arrested in June amid a widening probe into wrongdoing in the department’s cadet program for minors who are aspiring officers.
New FBI chief for Sacramento coming from Los Angeles office
The FBI has named a veteran agent from Los Angeles to take over as special agent in charge of the Sacramento field office. Special Agent Sean Ragan has been heading up the criminal division in the Los Angeles field office and is expected to assume his new post in late July. Ragan joined the bureau in 1996, starting his career in the San Francisco office, where he focused on gangs, organized crime and violent crime.
Sex, joy rides and car chases: Scandal in LAPD youth cadet program sparks alarm and calls for reform
The police officer talked strategy with the young cadets as they prepared for an obstacle course competition. Should the strongest person go first? The tallest? Teamwork was important, said the officer, Ruby Aguirre. As the teenagers – addressing everyone with a “Sir” or “Ma’am” – powered across monkey bars or scrambled to catch footballs in Elysian Park earlier this month, the scene seemed straight out of a recruiting brochure for the Los Angeles Police Department’s cadet program, which enrolls over 2,000 local youths.
Was policeman Mohammed Noor justified in shooting Justine Damond?
“Justine Damond ‘didn’t have to die,’ says Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau.” So read the headline in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Friday, quoting the now former-chief’s belated statement of the patently obvious. Nearly a week had passed since Damond was shot and killed by Minneapolis P.D. officer Mohammed Noor, and at last Harteau, who at the time of the shooting was hiking in Colorado, stood up to represent the department she purported to lead.
‘She killed her own sister’: Family reeling after California teen livestreamed deadly DUI crash
A California father opened up Monday about losing two teenage daughters – one who was killed in a car crash and the other who was taken into custody after she livestreamed the incident on Instagram while driving. “I think she don’t know what’s happened,” Nicandro Sanchez told KFSN-TV. “What I think, she knows she’s done something wrong.”
Police Commission rules LAPD officer justified in fatally shooting 14-year-old in Boyle Heights
The Los Angeles Police Commission ruled Tuesday that officers were justified in firing their guns in two separate shootings, including a controversial encounter in Boyle Heights that left a 14-year-old boy dead. In a 3-1 vote, the civilian panel determined that last summer’s shooting of Jesse Romero fell within the Los Angeles Police Department’s rules for using deadly force.
Bus driver screams ‘Officer down!’ into radio of injured cop
After watching in terror as a man violently attacked a police officer in an El Cajon fast-food restaurant, Iesha Booker checked for a pulse on the bloody, unconscious officer and yelled into the radio on his belt. “I just grabbed it and kept screaming in there that they have an officer down, they have an officer down,” she told reporters Wednesday. “I hoped they heard me because I didn’t know how to work the walkie-talkie.”
Harvard opioid study calls for crackdown on big pharma
“Weak patenting standards and ineffectual policing” have helped turn the pharmaceutical industry into a key driver of the opioid epidemic, according to a study published in the Harvard Law & Policy Review. The study, entitled “The Opioid Epidemic: Fixing a Broken Pharmaceutical Market,” argues that the failure to effectively regulate fraudulent marketing and anti-competitive practices by Big Pharma have contributed to the “over-utilization of costly and often harmful” branded prescription drugs.
Majority of civilian oversight body wants L.A. County sheriff to stop flying drone
Citing concerns over surveillance, safety and potential trauma to the public, a majority of Los Angeles County Sheriff Civilian Oversight commissioners Thursday expressed that they want Sheriff Jim McDonnell to stop flying a drone used in law enforcement operations. The aircraft was unveiled by the Sheriff’s Department in January and has been deployed four times, mostly in search-and-rescue missions.
Gubernatorial candidate John Chiang visits Fontana
California gubernatorial candidate John Chiang campaigned in Fontana on July 15, presenting some of his ideas on key issues to about 100 people at the Hilton Garden Inn. “It is so great to be here with the folks who represent the Inland Empire and some of our hardest working elected officials. This is what political participation looks like — members of the community coming together with their local and statewide leaders to discuss ways in which we can move forward as a community and state,” said Chiang.
The California Republican Party is at a crossroads
The California Republican Party (CRP) is in worse shape than the national party, because they believe leaders like Rocky Chavez are the future of the party who said this after voting for the crony-filled Cap-and-Trade gas tax: “You’re right, we’re a very small component of the world on this (only 1% of global greenhouse emissions come from California), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be leaders on something that’s threatening the world.”
Opinion: Document Prop. 47 savings, then put money to good use
Four decades of flawed criminal justice policies have created negative impacts that will last for generations, especially for low income families and communities of color. Then, in 2014 passage of Proposition 47 by California voters offered a way to reverse some of those impacts. The promise of Prop. 47 will only be fulfilled, however, when those who have their records cleared under the proposition are able to fully access supports, like affordable housing and job opportunities, critical to stability and security.
Court system impacted by AB 109, no reprieve coming from Sacramento
The results of AB 109, Proposition 47 and Proposition 57 are seen on a weekly basis inside the court system of Shasta County. Officials say that their hands are tied by these laws because police can only cite most drug offenders, burglars and shoplifters. In most cases, those citations are ignored because there’s no room in the jail for anyone but the most serious criminals. The process tends to end in misdemeanor court, where the dockets are long: up to 200 cases two days a week.
CITY, STATE & COUNTY GOVERNMENT
Ex-SoCalGas employee warned regulators of ‘potential catastrophic loss of life’ at Aliso Canyon
State oil and gas regulators approved resuming injections at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility despite a warning by a former Southern California Gas Co. manager over potential “catastrophic loss of life” in the event of a major earthquake, Los Angles County court documents reveal.
LA County leaders to discuss health permit fees for adult film studios
Five years after Los Angeles County voters approved the use of condoms on adult film sets, public health officials Tuesday will ask the Board of Supervisors to take the next step and agree on a set of fees to pay for inspections at film production sites. Public health officials will propose that adult film producers pay $1,672 for a permit and about $65 for each visit public health inspectors make to a set to ensure condoms are being used.
Ex-Compton mayor grilled over use of city funds for pay-per-view
Former Compton Mayor Omar Bradley told a prosecutor on Tuesday that he bought on-demand movies, a golf hat and shirt, green fees, balls and cigars for city business using a city credit card, and that he never paid for personal expenses with taxpayer money. During more than two hours of cross-examination, Bradley acknowledged that he had paid for a movie at the Grand Hyatt in Washington during a trip for the Congressional Black Caucus in 1999 with a city credit card.
A bitter rivalry between two mayors helps spawn corruption scandal in Antelope Valley
Lancaster and Palmdale have long battled for supremacy in the Antelope Valley, and the rivalry extends to the cities’ mayors, R. Rex Parris and James Ledford. Five years ago, Parris, Lancaster’s mayor and a well-known litigator, heard about a lawsuit filed by a civil rights group aimed at forcing nearby Palmdale to shift from at-large to district elections in an effort to elect more nonwhite candidates.
LA’s weed industry needs a bank. City leaders might create one it can use
Los Angeles city leaders are looking into the possibility of setting up a public bank that would do business with marijuana dispensaries, as well as cater to affordable housing developers. Council President Herb Wesson proposed the idea in a speech at City Hall, laying out his agenda for the next two years. He said a municipal bank would be able to focus on providing financing to small businesses and developers of affordable housing.
L.A. sheriff says he’ll appeal decision barring him from giving prosecutors a list of problem deputies
Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell will ask the state Supreme Court to review a recent lower-court decision that barred him from giving prosecutors the names of deputies with histories of serious misconduct, he said in a statement Wednesday. The appeal, which has not yet been filed, will seek to “establish legal clarity” while balancing the privacy protections of officers’ personnel files, according to the statement.
LA advocacy group makes website listing LASD members it considers ‘problematic’
This week, local watchdog group Dignity and Power Now (DPN) announced the launch of a website listing members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deemed “problematic” by DPN. The group created the site, TheProblematic.org, in response to a California appeals court ruling on July 11. The 2nd District Court of Appeal affirmed a lower court’s decision to block LA County Sheriff Jim McDonnell’s efforts to present the LA County District Attorney’s Office with the names of approximately 300 deputies found to have engaged in misconduct.
California’s high court narrows third-strike sentencing reductions
The state Supreme Court made it harder Monday for some third-strikers to get their life sentences reduced if they were armed when they committed their last offense, even if the crime itself was neither serious nor violent. For the second time this month, the justices agreed with prosecutors in a dispute over the scope of Proposition 36, a 2012 initiative that narrowed California’s 1994 “three strikes” law.
How Democrats stole the nation’s lower federal courts
The Democrats, and Sen. Chuck Schumer in particular, have engaged in an outrageous set of practices from 1993 to 2017 that have allowed them to steal huge majorities on all the federal circuit courts of appeals. This story needs telling because Senate Republicans, while performing very admirably in replacing Justice Scalia with Justice Gorsuch, have had their pockets picked with the courts of appeals.
Children can be taken if parents can’t control them, court rules
Juvenile courts in California can supervise children whose parents are no longer able to protect or control them, even if the parents have done nothing wrong, the state Supreme Court has ruled. Courts in the state had been divided over whether a parent must be abusive, neglectful or otherwise unfit to trigger a long-standing law declaring the parent’s minor child to be a “dependent” of the juvenile court.