Monday Morning Memo for October 2, 2017
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PRISON AND PAROLE
California lawmakers look to free older and younger inmates
To ease overcrowding in state prisons, California lawmakers want to release more of the state’s older prisoners and more of the inmates who were young when they committed their crimes. The two bills sent to Gov. Jerry Brown in the waning days of the legislative session are the latest attempt to keep the prison population below the cap set by federal judges, with the goal of eventually ending federal oversight.
California’s prison overcrowding contributes to parole of convicted Napa County murderer
A man convicted of murdering his ex-wife more than two decades ago will be released from prison despite official objections, partly because of statewide prison overcrowding, Napa County District Attorney Allison Haley announced. Haley announced that Jerre Allen, 75, was granted parole after an Aug. 29 hearing before the Board of Parole Hearings at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione, Calif.
City plans to house criminals in South Bay Hotel
A plan to turn a South Bay hotel into a home for up to 84 non-violent repeat offenders is meeting some heavy opposition from people who live nearby. San Diego’s City Attorney’s office launched the San Diego Misdemeanants At-Risk Track (SMART) Program in December of 2016. It was aimed at people who were let out of jail by Proposition 47. The program works to help petty criminals avoid return trips to jail.
Emotional testimony from the Downey police lieutenant who found slain officer’s body
A Downey police lieutenant gave emotional testimony Monday about finding a fellow officer shot to death in a BMW parked near the police station nearly two years ago, saying he didn’t initially recognize the victim. With his voice breaking as he was asked about the discovery of Officer Ricardo Galvez’s body in the officer’s personal car, Downey police Lt. Brian Baker said, “He’d been shot in the face. I didn’t recognize the car or the subject in the car.”
The pathetic life of the trust-funder accused of butchering model
Just months before he allegedly tortured and mutilated his girlfriend in West Hollywood, trust-funder graphic novelist Blake Leibel gave away his latest creative endeavor for free in a desperate bid to further his comic book career. But Leibel – the 36-year-old son of a wealthy Toronto developer who could face the death penalty if convicted in the grisly murder of Iana Kasian – didn’t look the part of a successful writer while sitting near stacks of his latest graphic novel, one Hollywood producer who knew Leibel told the Toronto Sun.
Date rape case to go to trial
A Saugus man accused of date rape has been ordered to stand trial. Brady John Wood, 20, appeared Friday in San Fernando Superior Court for a preliminary hearing after which he was held to answer to one felony count of rape by use of drugs, Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told The Signal Monday.
LAPD officer won’t face new trial on accusation of filing false police report
Los Angeles police officer accused of failing to arrest a drunken motorist because he wanted to wrap up his shift will not face a retrial after jurors deadlocked recently on a charge that he falsified a police report. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jose Sandoval granted a motion Thursday to dismiss the case against LAPD Officer Rene Ponce, and prosecutors opted not to oppose the motion.
Feds charge 10 in college basketball bribery probe
Bound to shake up the ongoing NCAA season, federal prosecutors accused 10 coaches, managers, financial advisers and sportswear executives on Tuesday morning of corrupting college basketball. “The picture of college basketball painted by the charges is not a pretty one,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim told reporters at a noon press conference, exposing what he called the sport’s “dark underbelly” in more than 100 pages of court papers.
Accused killer of Madyson Middleton could get freedom in 5 years
A juvenile transfer hearing will determine if an accused child rapist and killer will go on trial as an adult. On Monday, it centered over two vastly different psychological profiles of Adrian “AJ” Gonzalez: Is he a sexually deviant, manipulative, paraphilic psychopath? Or is he a neglected, suicidal boy with autism who could be rehabilitated with intensive therapy and other treatment?
Did the D.A.’s office accidentally tip off L.A. gang member to witness’ address where two people were later shot?
The court order obtained by a Los Angeles County prosecutor was clear: The gang member was required to stay away from a woman he was charged with assaulting, as well as several members of her family. The woman was a stranger, police said, and was expected to testify against him.
Winemaker sentenced 8 years for embezzlement and tax evasion
Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce. E. Dudley announced today that on Thursday September 21, 2017, Christian Lucas Garvin, the former manager and winemaker at Oreana Winery, was sentenced to 8 years state prison, ordered to pay $1,050,270 in restitution, and ordered to pay a fine of $1,759,080.00.
C.A. invalidates resentencing on theft count; conviction was reversed 20 years ago
The Fifth District Court of Appeal has invalidated a 2015 order that a conviction for felony petty theft involving the taking of property worth less than $950 be reduced to a misdemeanor, under Proposition 47, pointing to a factor overlooked by the defendant, the prosecutor, and the trial court: the conviction was reversed in 1997.
Appellate Division affirms six-and-a-half year sentence for harassment
The Appellate Division of the Los Angeles Superior Court has affirmed a six-and-a-half year sentence imposed on a suitor who continued to woo a woman after she obtained protective orders. The opinion, by Judge Alex Ricciardulli, was filed Aug. 11 and made public yesterday after the Court of Appeal deemed transfer to itself unnecessary.
Supreme Court poised to deal a sharp blow to unions for teachers and public employees
The Supreme Court is poised to deal a sharp blow to the unions that represent millions of teachers and other public employees, announcing Thursday it will consider striking down the mandatory fees that support collective bargaining. The justices will hear the case of Mark Janus, an Illinois state employee who objects to paying fees to the union, which represents 35,000 state workers.
Ninth Circuit denies qualified immunity in fatal shooting of 13-year-old boy
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday affirmed an order denying summary judgment, on the issue of qualified immunity, to the County of Sonoma and a deputy sheriff in an action brought by the estate of a 13-year-old boy who was fatally shot while walking down the street carrying a toy rifle.
Judge rules that TV interview with suspect in Kate Steinle killing can’t be used at trial
A San Francisco Superior Court judge on Monday barred the trial use of the only public interview with the man accused of killing Kate Steinle. In the widely viewed KGO-TV jailhouse interview, Jose Ines Garcia Zarate admitted to firing a gun he says he found wrapped in a T-shirt – an act that resulted in the death of Steinle, 32, when the bullet pierced her heart as she strolled with her father on Pier 14 on July 1, 2015.
These San Gabriel Valley cities have banded together to fight an increase in crime, here’s how
It started with a handful of Foothill cities – Arcadia, Glendora and Monrovia – concerned about an increase in crime each had experienced in the past few years. Officials wanted answers, and thought they had a better chance if they banded together. Since founding the “Taking Back Our Community Coalition,” the list of cities and law enforcement organizations that have joined has grown to more than 30.
Violence in US rises for second straight year
Violent crime in America rose in 2016 for the second straight year, driven by a spike in killings in some major cities, but remained near historically low levels, according to FBI data released Monday. The Trump administration immediately seized on the figures as proof that the nation is in the midst of a dangerous crime wave that warrants a return to tougher tactics like more arrests and harsher punishments for drug criminals.
FBI reports violent crime surge, but what does it mean?
Surging violence in a handful of big cities drove up overall reports of violent crime in the U.S. for the second straight year in 2016, according to FBI data released Monday. Reports of violent crimes increased nationally by 4.1 percent last year, and homicides rose by 8.6 percent. The increases were comparable to the FBI’s 2015 data, which reported a 10.8 percent increase in homicides and a 3.9 percent increase in overall violence.
SF’s car smash-and-grab reality even worse than count
San Francisco’s epidemic of car burglaries may be spreading even faster than the already alarming 28 percent increase reported by police this year. Statistics obtained from the city’s 911 center show it received 25,031 calls about auto break-ins during the first six months of 2017 – 7,061 more than the 17,970 reported by police.
Transient faces attempted murder charge for alleged attack on jogger
A transient who lives in the Santa Clara River wash and accused of assaulting a 70-year-old woman now faces a felony charge of attempted murder. Colton Ford, 29, who arrived in the SCV about seven months ago from Orange County, was arrested Tuesday morning by deputies of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station after two “Good Samaritans” ran to the aid of the alleged victim and held the suspect for them.
How Antonio Villaraigosa went from a union organizer to a union target
Antonio Villaraigosa launched his political career off his work as a union organizer, and labor played a critical role in getting him elected to office. So it was a remarkable moment when Villaraigosa, as Los Angeles’ mayor, blasted the city’s teachers union where he once worked as “the largest obstacle to creating quality schools.” Now, as Villaraigosa runs for governor, this evolution is the reason one of the state’s most powerful interests may try to sink his campaign.
Montebello Mayor Romero submitted questionable Measure S sales tax documents to city clerk
A few weeks ago, HMG-CN exclusively reported that JCS Construction and David Magallanes filed a cross-complaint is for “equitable indemnity,” naming City Manager Tucker-Schyuler, Montebello Assistant City Manager Danilo Baston, and Information Systems Manager David Tsuen as “cross defendants.” Equitable indemnity is a claim when one party has been ordered to pay damages to another party as a result of a third-party’s wrongful acts.
Child sex victims video testimony bill signed by Governor Brown
Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) announced Governor Brown has signed her Assembly Bill 993. This measure will expand the use of video testimony options for young children who are victims of heinous sex crimes, so they will not have to repeatedly relive trauma of the crime during court prosecution of the abuser.
Police body camera footage depicting rape victims won’t be released in California under new law
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a measure Tuesday that would prohibit the public release of police body camera footage or other videos that depict victims of rape, incest, sexual assault, domestic violence or child abuse. The new law will not change existing policy. Generally, police departments across California don’t release body camera footage outside of a courtroom.
California’s Legislature is getting more family-friendly – and it’s not just politics driving the shift
State lawmakers this year passed bills that would give millions of Californians 12 weeks to snuggle with their newborns before returning to work, grant school employees six weeks of paid parental leave and offer moms and dads a place – besides a grimy bathroom floor – to change dirty diapers at amusement parks, theaters, sporting arenas and shopping malls.
Legislation that requires candidates’ tax forms hits Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk
The fate of President Trump’s unreleased tax returns is, for now, in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown. And if Brown signs legislation requiring presidential candidates to make their returns public, that decision will shift to the nation’s courts. The legislation, SB149 by Sens. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, approved largely along party lines, would require presidential candidates to release five years of their income tax returns in order to appear on the California ballot.
Fox eats crow: Big Biggie ‘we’re sorry’ to LA Sheriff’s Department
Fox Broadcasting apologized Tuesday for mistakenly including a photo of a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department commander in its prime-time special “Who Shot Biggie & Tupac?” Late Monday, the show’s production company, Critical Content, issued an apology on its Facebook page.
‘Smart policing’ praised by The Heritage Foundation
The “smart policing” program promoted by the U.S. Justice Department was given a boost this week in a new report from the Heritage Foundation. In a study written by former Attorney General Edwin Meese and John Malcolm, Heritage describes “smart policing” as “a strategic management approach that brings more science into police operations.”.
Hard data, hollow protests
The FBI released its official crime tally for 2016 today, and the data flies in the face of the rhetoric that professional athletes rehearsed in revived Black Lives Matter protests over the weekend. Nearly 900 additional blacks were killed in 2016 compared with 2015, bringing the black homicide-victim total to 7,881.
New interactive database tracks officer arrests and charges
The new Henry A. Wallace Police Crime Database is the first public, searchable web database that catalogs the arrests of state and local law enforcement officers. The database, created by Dr. Phil Stinson, a criminologist at Bowling Green State University (and former police officer), provides information on 8,006 arrests of approximately 6,596 individual officers in all 50 states. The arrests resulted in 13,623 charges.
Alert! LAPD Animal Cruelty Task Force may be on the City Council’s chopping block
Animal activists and crime-ravaged communities reporting rampant animal neglect and abuse, cheered when the long-sought Los Angeles Police Department’s Animal Cruelty Task Force (ACTF) was formed in 2005 to address felony crimes against animals, including dog fighting and cockfighting. The motion was introduced by now-Congressman Tony Cardenas and seconded by current Secretary of State Alex Padilla, while both served on the City Council, and was approved on May 13, 2005.
Why do police have to shoot?
In the 1989, the Supreme Court ruled in Graham vs. Connor that police officers can use force, including deadly force, based on a totality of the circumstances. Those circumstances include what an officer believes about the suspect (from radio or witness reports,) type of crime involved, observations as to the mental state of the subject, what they say and whether the officer reasonably fears the death or bodily injury of himself, fellow officers or members of the public, to name a few.
Civilian Oversight Commission wants LA County Sheriff’s Department to stop using drones
A civilian commission overseeing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department called Thursday for an end to the agency’s use of a drone during law enforcement operations, but Sheriff Jim McDonnell said the device is too important to ground. The Civilian Oversight Commission voted 5-4 to call for the grounding of the drone program, which began in January.
Cutten talks public safety with law enforcement, supervisor
Cutten residents sat down with county and law enforcement officials during a community meeting Thursday evening to discuss crime trends, neighborhood watch and general community public safety. Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal, District Attorney Maggie Fleming, 1st District Supervisor Rex Bohn and California Highway Patrol Capt. Brett Fabbri took part in the meeting.
Efforts to keep police guns out of dangerous hands fail with SF killing
The killing of Kate Steinle on a San Francisco pier in July 2015 shook the law enforcement community when investigators traced the pistol that took her life to a federal ranger. Four days earlier, he had returned to his parked car in the city’s downtown to find a window smashed and the weapon gone. Over the next seven months, at least seven other guns were snatched from law enforcement officers’ vehicles in the Bay Area, and the rash prompted some chiefs and sheriffs to tighten policies on how officers secure guns, whether off-duty or on.
San Diego County officials ban weapons at border wall protests
San Diego County supervisors voted Tuesday to ban weapons such as knives, stun guns and pepper spray in anticipation of protests near the border wall prototype project, which broke ground Tuesday steps away from the U.S.-Mexico border. The supervisors unanimously approved an urgency ordinance prohibiting “items known to be used as weapons” in the unincorporated area of Otay Mesa, where construction on the eight border wall prototypes began.
Lawmakers pushing bail reform want more info on bail bond insurers
The two Democratic lawmakers who have been pushing for reforms to California’s bail system are now looking for a peek behind the curtain at how the bail industry operates. Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) and Sen. Bob Hertzberg (D-Los Angeles) believe bail punishes people for being poor, and they want to fundamentally change how California decides whether to let people accused of crimes out of jail before their trial.
How black women are leading the way on bail reform
Sen. Kamala Harris took a bold step for criminal justice reform recently by introducing legislation that encourages alternatives to money bail. Money bail is one of the engines of the mass incarceration of Black communities, essentially criminalizing poverty by jailing poor people who cannot to pay bail-even when these people have not been convicted of a crime.
Teen who shot cop was loose thanks to judge’s slap on the wrist
The Yonkers cop who was shot in the face during an ambush Monday left the hospital to the cheers of fellow officers – as it emerged Tuesday that the teen who allegedly blasted her was free thanks to a Bronx judge’s leniency. Kayla Maher, 26, a two-year veteran, rose from her wheelchair at the exit of Jacobi Medical Center at 4 p.m. and hugged several of her colleagues, including some who had been with her during the shootout Monday.
Bail or jail? Tool used by San Francisco courts shows promising results
Last year, San Francisco began using an algorithm to assess whether someone accused of a crime and awaiting trial is safe to be let out of jail. Fifteen months later, prosecutors say the risk assessment tool appears to be working: According to information provided to KQED by the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office, just 6 percent of defendants who were released from jail based on the “public safety assessment,” or PSA, over those 15 months committed a new crime; 20 percent failed to appear in court.
California regulator admits to anxiety as legal pot nears
In about three months, recreational marijuana sales will kick off in California, yet no one knows exactly how the pot economy will work. It could take until late November for the state to issue regulations that will govern the new marketplace. Meanwhile, growers and sellers are wondering how the industry can function when some operators will have licenses and others might not.
L.A. is set to be a hot market for marijuana sales. But there might not be many places to smoke it
Los Angeles lawmakers are laying the groundwork for what is widely expected to be one of the hottest markets for marijuana in the country, one that could bring more than $50 million in taxes to city coffers next year. The city is drafting rules to allow greenhouses that grow cannabis, industrial facilities that process it, and new shops that sell it for recreational use, not just medical need.
More people were arrested last year over pot than for murder, rape, aggravated assault and robbery – combined
In 2016 more people were arrested for marijuana possession than for all crimes the FBI classifies as violent, according to 2016 crime data released by the agency on Monday. Marijuana possession arrests edged up slightly in 2016, a year in which voters in four states approved recreational marijuana initiatives and voters in three others approved medical marijuana measures.
California is trying to educate people about marijuana before recreational sales start
Months before California allows the sale of marijuana for recreational use, the state has launched an education campaign about the drug, including highlighting the potential harms of cannabis for minors and pregnant women. The state is scheduled to issue licenses starting Jan. 2 for growing and selling marijuana for recreational use, expanding a program that currently allows cannabis use for medical purposes.
California lawmakers passed the ‘sanctuary state’ bill. What happens if Gov. Jerry Brown signs it?
In a strike at President Trump’s call for more deportations, California lawmakers passed landmark “sanctuary state” legislation earlier this month to shield thousands of immigrants who have entered the U.S. illegally. Senate Bill 54, approved on the last day of the 2017 legislative session, would limit whom state and local law enforcement officers can hold and question on immigration violations.
Immigration courts are on the verge of collapse
In downtown Los Angeles, the immigration court takes up three floors of an office building across from Pershing Square. Outside, there’s no mention about what’s taking place inside the non-descript office tower — families huddled together in bleach-white hallways, in groups so large you can’t tell if the air conditioner is even running. And, these are just the people with court cases on this particular day. Thousands of more immigrants are still waiting for their moment in the same hallways.
Bunk bed anti-jail protest snarls LA traffic
Dozens of protesters rallied downtown Tuesday to urge the Board of Supervisors not to spend money on new jail construction, blocking a major thoroughfare and bringing traffic in the Civic Center area to a crawl. JusticeLA, a coalition of more than 40 community organizations, aimed to “send a message that we are ready and prepared to disrupt business as usual in Los Angeles” in order to reduce the number of people being held in county jails, Mark-Anthony Johnson of Dignity and Power Now told the board.
Health officials issue warning as West Nile virus kills 7 in L.A. County
Los Angeles County health officials warned residents Monday to protect themselves against the mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus, as the number of people killed by the disease in L.A. County this year reached seven. The department launched a campaign Monday called “It’s Not Just A Bite” to try to raise awareness about mosquito-borne diseases, including West Nile.
Los Angeles considers portable restrooms to fight hepatitis outbreak
In light of the recent declaration of a hepatitis A outbreak in the county, a Los Angeles city councilman said Tuesday that a system of portable restrooms similar to a program used in San Francisco may be needed to address the problem. “Without access to the basic right of a restroom, people living on the streets are at a significantly increased risk of contracting diseases like hepatitis A that are spread through human feces,” Councilman Mike Bonin said in a motion he introduced at the City Council meeting.
Report: LA needs stricter enforcement of sidewalk tents
Increasing the number of storage bins availablefor the homeless and cracking down on tents erected on sidewalks were among the recommendations released Wednesday by City Controller Ron Galperin in an effort to combat the proliferation of homeless encampments. The L.A. Homeless Services Authority’s annual count in January found 57,794 homeless in the county. That was a 23 percent jump from the year prior.