Borderline Bar and Grill Shooter Used Bar's Surveillance System to Ambush Police as They Arrived to Help, and other stories: Monday Morning Memo
South Los Angeles sees surge in gang violence as a war brews with fresh soldiers released from prison for COVID-19 (but Gascon won't seek enhancements for gang violence)
December 25, 2020
New L.A. County D.A. George Gascón's reforms are hitting courtrooms, and at least one judge wasn't happy
The sweeping directives Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón issued on his first day in office are rankling longtime justice system officials, with the fight now playing out in some courtrooms. Almost as soon as Gascón announced his reforms in his inaugural speech earlier this month, the powerful Association of Los Angeles Deputy District Attorneys representing hundreds of county prosecutors balked at the announcements.
Gascón draws judges' wrath over latest 'special directive'
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón has ordered deputies in his office to report any judge who will not go along with his no-enhancements policy, evoking cries by judges that he is defying the need for judicial independence and misconstruing applicable statutes. In a directive issued late Tuesday, Gascón provided a script for deputies to use in moving to withdraw enhancements that were alleged under the prior district attorney, Jackie Lacey, and to tattle on any judge who neither grants the motion nor permits an amending of the information or indictment.
Justices dash relief for man on death row after casino trip killing
Chiding the Ninth Circuit, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday reinstated a death sentence for a man who killed his gambling buddy over some casino losses. George Kayer is on death row for the murder of Delbert Haas in 1994. As relayed in Monday's ruling, Haas had borrowed money from Kayer on a Nevada gambling trip, and Haas told the third member of the group, Lisa Kester, that he would kill the man for losing it.
CA Supreme Court rules SB 1437 allows relief for defendant who "aided and abetted" in crime resulting in murder
The California Supreme Court Thursday reversed a Court of Appeal's decision relating to Senate Bill 1437, ruling that a defendant convicted for second-degree murder under the natural and probable consequences theory is eligible to petition for reduced resentencing. Defendant Joseph Gentile was convicted for second-degree murder after a jury decided that he "directly aided and abetted" someone in the commission of felony assault, in which the natural and probable consequence of which was death.
9th Circ. says firefighter can't challenge union settlement
The unpublished decision the unanimous appeals court panel released Thursday rejected battalion chief Don Waller's argument that the settlement the city and an International Association of Fire Fighters local struck violated his rights because it was negotiated without his knowledge. "That argument fails due to the longstanding legal principle that unions are free to negotiate settlements without the affected members' consent, even if the settlement waives rights that the members would otherwise have had," the opinion said.
Arrestee's suit over alleged brutality properly rejected
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a summary judgment in favor of Orange County in an action against it alleging that non-resisting arrestees, after being booked by sheriff's deputies, are routinely painfully escorted to cells with both arms pinned behind their backs, a technique known as "chicken-winging."
Appeals panel that decided Dueñas denies ability-to-pay hearing to attempted slayer
Div. Seven of this district's Court of Appeal - which last year spawned the controversial decision in People v. Dueñas holding that a criminal defendant has a due-process right to a hearing on the ability to pay fines and fees - yesterday rejected an attempted murderer's contention that the monetary obligations placed on him at his pre-Dueñas sentencing are invalid.
First Asian American justice to serve on Fourth District Court of Appeal
Gov. Gavin Newsom Dec. 8, announced his historic nomination of Judge Truc T. Do to serve as an Associate Justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeal, Division One. If confirmed, Judge Do will be the first Asian American Justice in the court's history. Judge Do was also the first Vietnamese-American judge ever appointed to the San Diego County Superior Court when she was appointed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. in 2018.
Random Lengths News
Second Appellate District of California Court of Appeal upholds constitutionality of felony forfeiture statute
As the public pension community in California is well aware, on July 30, 2020, the California Supreme Court issued its landmark decision on vested rights and the constitutionality of legislative changes to public retirement statutes in Alameda County Deputy Sheriff's Association, et al. v. Alameda County Employees' Retirement Association, et al. (State Of California) (2020) 9 Cal.5th 1032 ("Alameda").
Federal appeals court denies bail to NYPD officer from LI charged with being agent of China
A federal appeals court has denied bail to a New York City police officer from Williston Park accused of being an agent of China, upholding a ruling by a lower federal district court judge. The officer, Baimadajie Angwang, 33, a native of Tibet, was ordered detained without bail as a risk of flight to China by U.S. District Judge Eric Komitee in Brooklyn in October. Angwang, a Marine veteran who was in the Army Reserve, appealed the bail denial order to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan.
11th Circuit won't reinstate case brought by school shooting survivors
The 11th Circuit on Friday rejected a civil rights lawsuit filed by survivors of the 2018 Parkland school shooting, ruling that school and county officials who failed to help students during the shooting did not have a "custodial duty" to protect them. In a unanimous decision, a three-judge panel of the Atlanta-based appeals court rejected an attempt by 15 former and current students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to revive the suit against Broward County and various officials, including Superintendent of Schools Robert Runcie, former Sheriff Scott Israel, former school-resource officer Scot Peterson, and former school security monitor Andrew Medina.
Courthouse News Service
Lawyers' data targeted in string of bar association hacks
On Nov. 13, the bar association informed its members and the public that it had been hit with a cyberattack, potentially exposing payment card information and other personal information registered on its website, myWSBA.org. The association disclosed more details of the attack on Nov. 16, saying it discovered that a "malicious code that targets credit card numbers" was introduced to its website. However, the association said it didn't know whether the hackers accessed any credit card information.
Thirteen federal courts to start livestreaming hearings
In announcing Tuesday it will give the public access to noteworthy cases via audio livestream, the federal court system will move a few rungs closer to the 21st century - at least in 13 districts. These livestreams will be available on the courts' designated YouTube channels in real-time, the U.S. Courts said Tuesday.
Courthouse News Service
COVID-19 & Justice System
How Orange County courts will keep tabs on lawyers as virus cases surge
Starting Monday, lawyers visiting Orange County courthouses must comply with a new COVID-19 contact tracing program that will collect their names and contact information when they enter a courtroom. Orange County Superior Court Presiding Judge Kirk Nakamura issued an administrative order late Thursday mandating that lawyers scan QR, or quick response, codes posted outside each courtroom with their cellphones.
With L.A. courts paralyzed by COVID-19, public defenders say caseloads are 'unconscionable'
The email set off alarm bells throughout the Los Angeles County public defender's office. In a message that reached roughly 1,200 lawyers and staff members, veteran public defender Ernesto Diaz pleaded for help with what he and some of his colleagues described as "unconscionable caseloads." Felony attorneys were representing as many as 70 clients, more than double their normal workload, and some were so stressed out that they were becoming physically ill, he wrote.
Los Angeles Times
DA Policy Changes
Crime victims' loved ones criticize new LA D.A.'s reforms
The Los Angeles County's new DA campaigned on promises of justice reform. There's no question he followed through right on the first day with new rules to erase bail for the accused and reduce punishment for others. Now some people who have been impacted say it goes far beyond what voters understood and it's unfair.
NBC4 Los Angeles
Sister of slain Los Angeles sheriff's deputy blasts new LA County DA over justice reforms
The sister of a Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputy who was fatally shot in the head last year is furious at the newly elected district attorney for downgrading charges against her brother's killer that could see him freed from prison in 40 years. Christina Solano on Monday blasted Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón for implementing reforms that could result in her brother's killer one day being out on parole.
LA County's new district attorney says no exceptions for his reduced punishment rules
LA County District Attorney George Gascon said Tuesday no exceptions would be made to his new rule that bans prosecutors from filing sentencing enhancements in criminal cases, no matter how terrible the crime. "I do believe that enhancements have driven mass incarceration in this country and I do believe that they're racist," he told reporters in a remote video news conference.
NBC4 Los Angeles
Deputy DA speaks out against Gascon's policies, 'hostile' work environment
Under newly elected L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón's policy changes, there would not have been justice in the Gabriel Fernandez case, according to Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami, a Santa Clarita resident and prosecutor for the high-profile murder trial involving the parents of an 8-year-old Palmdale boy. Hatami has emerged as a vocal opponent of the new direction the DA's Office is taking under Gascón.
ADL urges new district attorney not to reduce hate crime enhancers
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Los Angeles Regional Director Jeffrey Abrams urged newly sworn-in Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón not to reduce enhancers for hate crimes. Enhancers, also known as aggravating factors, result in more prison time if new incriminating evidence is uncovered. Gascón announced on December 7, the day he was sworn into office, a series of new policies, including that he would be getting rid of enhancers across the board.
LA County DA George Gascon's plan to reduce sentences sparks concern from his own prosecutors
Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami has made a name for himself, going after child abusers and killers, most notably serving as the lead prosecutor in the Gabriel Fernandez case. But today, Hatami says he feels targeted by new District Attorney George Gascon. "A lot of DDAs (deputy district attorneys) are really scared," said Hatami.
ABC7 Los Angeles
Deputy PDs asked to report DDAs deviating from policies
Deputy public defenders are being asked to report any prosecutors who are not abiding by sentencing policies of the new district attorney, George Gascón, and any judges who are declining to allow enhancement allegations to be withdrawn or otherwise not honoring the approaches Gascón has laid out. The request has been sent out by Deputy Public Defender Tiffiny Townend Blacknell, recruitment coordinator for her office.
Major controversy swirls over Gascón's special directives
Consternation on the part of deputy district attorneys and judges over "special directives" issued by the new and unconventional Los Angeles County district attorney, George Gascón, is mounting, with deputies balking at orders to seek dismissal of enhancement allegations and judges rankled that they are being asked to act on cases in conformity with a county official's policies rather than exercising independent judgment.
New DA Gascon to decline prosecution on range of low-level crimes
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office will no longer prosecute a range of misdemeanor crimes, from resisting arrest to drug possession to making criminal threats, according to a memo issued this week by new DA George Gascon. Gascon announced a sweeping range of reforms when he was sworn-in Monday, including no longer seeking the death penalty and not using gang enhancements for sentencing.
ABC7 Los Angeles
Steve Cooley warns of rise in crime, animal cruelty, under new Los Angeles DA George Gascón
Steve Cooley, the popular Los Angeles County District Attorney who served from 2000 to 2012 and who created the DA's animal cruelty prosecution program, has been speaking out publicly and candidly expressing his serious concerns about the election of George Gascón to head the D.A.'s office. Cooley's concerns extend to public and police officer safety, as well as animal cruelty/abuse, under an administration he calls a "predictable disaster."
Complaint readied for filing against head deputy
On December 7, 2020, newly elected District Attorney Gascón ordered all of his attorneys, via Special Directive 20-08, that "Any prior-strike enhancements (Penal Code § 667(d), 667(e); 1170.12(a) and 1170.12 (c)) will not be used for sentencing and shall be dismissed or withdrawn from the charging document. This includes second strikes and any strikes arising from a juvenile adjudication."
'Not the answer': OC District Attorney Todd Spitzer blasts judge's order to reduce county jail population
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer on Saturday released a statement criticizing a court ruling ordering the O.C. Sheriff to reduce jail populations by 50% as a coronavirus precaution. Spitzer argued such actions could bring more crime to communities and said steps have already been taken to reduce jail populations.
Ventura County DA's report says gunman in attack killing 12 used video cameras to ambush officers
A just-released Ventura County District Attorney's Office report says law enforcement officers were justified in opening fire on a gunman responsible for 12 deaths in the 2018 Borderline Bar And Grill attack. The report's findings were expected, but it provides some new details about the rampage, including how the man used the club's surveillance cameras to ambush arriving officers.
LA nightclub continued underground operation despite COVID-19 protocols
The Los Angeles city attorney is seeking to shut down an underground nightclub that is allegedly operating despite coronavirus restrictions, officials said Monday. The LA Party Society has been operating without licenses and permits in the downtown Fashion District, prosecutors allege in a lawsuit filed Nov. 25, as well as in defiance of COVID-19 Stay-at-Home orders.
22-year-old with multiple DUIs charged with murder in crash that killed couple, injured 3 children
A California woman with a history of drunken driving faces two counts of murder following a crash last week that killed a young couple and seriously injured their three daughters. Grace Elizabeth Coleman, 22, of Newport Beach, is charged with two felony counts of murder, one felony count of driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury, one felony count of driving with a blood alcohol of 0.08% or more causing bodily injury, and one felony count of hit and run with injury, the Orange County District Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Cox Media Group
Becerra sues Amazon to cooperate with California's COVID-19 safety investigation
Attorney General Xavier Becerra accused Amazon of withholding information in California's ongoing investigation into the company's coronavirus protocols and COVID-19 cases at distribution facilities across the state. The move reveals fresh government scrutiny over Amazon's workplace safety practices since the online retailer has been on a hiring spree throughout the pandemic.
Is diversion the right way to 'defund' the police?
As police critics call for reducing public spending on law enforcement, some reformers suggest that one way to accomplish that effectively is to divert more crime suspects out of the justice system early. That was the theme of a panel discussion Wednesday at the annual national criminal justice forum sponsored by the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) and the International Community Corrections Association (ICCA). The program was held online during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Crime Report
Battle brews as LAPD inspector general mulls broad review of officer discipline process
A legal battle is brewing as the police union promises to block any review by the LAPD inspector general of officer disciplinary hearings. A legal battle is brewing around one of the most secretive aspects of city government - disciplinary hearings for police officers - as the Los Angeles Police Department's inspector general mulls a broad review of the process and the police union promises to block him at the door.
Los Angeles County/City
City officials approved a $700K payout to demoted LAPD whistleblower
Raymond Garvin, the former head of the Los Angeles Police Department's Bomb Detection Canine Section, is set to receive a $700,000 payout after lawyers for the city determined he was wrongly demoted for no apparent reason - except perhaps that he blew the whistle on alleged wrongdoing in his department. Settling his case now likely saves the city money in the long run, according to a legal analysis by Deputy City Attorney Marianne Fratianne.
Social 'justice' comes to Los Angeles
Former New York mayor Ed Koch, on the occasion of his defeat in the 1989 Democratic primary by the late David Dinkins, was asked if he would again seek public office. "No," he said. "The people have spoken . . . and they must be punished." Well and properly punished they were, as things turned out. During Dinkins's single term as mayor, crime and disorder in New York City reached their horrifying zenith.
Jack Dunphy/The Pipeline
Meet the LA native who overcame homelessness to become a sergeant with the LAPD
Letisia Ruiz's path to becoming a sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department was not typical or easy. As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, she is one of 12 children who grew up less than a mile from LAPD headquarters. "I ran away from home at a very young age. I was 12 when I ran away. Didn't return back home, but I kept a good relationship with my parents," said Ruiz.
ABC7 Los Angeles
LA police won't face charges in 2018 Trader Joe's shooting
Two Los Angeles police officers acted lawfully in 2018 when they opened fire outside a Trader Joe's supermarket during a gunfight with a suspect and fatally shot the assistant store manager, prosecutors said Tuesday. LAPD Officers Sinlen Tse and Sarah Winans will not face criminal charges in the death of Melyda "Mely" Corado, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said in a Nov. 30 report released on Tuesday.
Police Commission: LAPD shooting of Daniel Hernandez partially out of policy
The Los Angeles Police Commission ruled today that the LAPD officer who fatally shot a 38-year-old man last spring violated department policy when she continued to fire after he lay wounded on the ground. Officer Toni McBride shot Daniel Hernandez six times on April 22; the commission disagreed with Chief Michel Moore's recommendation that it find the shooting within policy.
Did Garcetti witness gay sex harassment by top advisor on cop and do nothing but laugh?
A Los Angeles police officer who sued the city, alleging he was subjected to repeated acts of sexual harassment by a former mayoral adviser, says in a sworn declaration that Mayor Eric Garcetti witnessed many of the incidents, never intervened to stop them and often laughed at the ex-aide's remarks. Officer Matthew Garza's statement was submitted in support of his motion to compel Garcetti's deposition in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that Garza filed against the city, which is scheduled to be heard by Judge Ruth A. Kwan on Thursday.
Father and daughter who escaped gunfire in Wilmington concerned about increase in violent crime
A father and his four-year-old daughter became victims of crime in Wilmington when they were returning to their home in October. Ricardo Medina said on October 1 he was celebrating his birthday but when he was dropping off his daughter Alina and her great-grandmother gunfire erupted. "We heard the bangs, and we thought it was fireworks but once I heard it hitting my car, I knew they were bullets so I said they're bullets, drop," he said.
Fox11 Los Angeles
Suspect who struck patrol car arrested after chase from Koreatown to Buena Park
A suspect who led police on a high-speed chase from Koreatown to the front lawn of a home in Buena Park had crashed into an Los Angeles police patrol car during a street takeover, authorities said Saturday. The officers responded at 11 p.m. Friday to reports of street racers at Seventh Street and Western Avenue, according to a statement from the Los Angeles Police Department.
LAPD officials blame surging violence on gang disputes and pandemic-driven inmate releases
In recent months, bloodshed in South Los Angeles has increasingly been caused by bursts of gunfire from high-capacity firearms aimed at outdoor gatherings, leaving dozens of shell casings on the ground and multiple victims dead or wounded at once. The violence has not come as part of a single rivalry, but in "spurts of retaliation" among more than 40 gangs that police believe are actively involved in the carnage - often after one sect disrespects another online and the latter sends gunmen out to exact revenge before police or intervention workers can get a handle on what's happening, said LAPD Deputy Chief Regina Scott, commander of the department's south bureau, during a virtual meeting of the Police Commission this week.
Los Angeles Times
Authorities circulate photos of men suspected of firing at deputy in Altadena
Authorities Wednesday circulated photos of two men accused of shooting at a sheriff's deputy in Altadena. The ambush occurred Friday about 12:35 p.m., while the deputy was driving a marked patrol vehicle northbound on Fair Oaks Avenue, near Calaveras Street, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. The deputy was not injured in the shooting.
City News Service
2 deputies involved in Guardado's death suspended for unrelated reasons
Two deputies involved in the killing of Andres Guardado have been temporarily "relieved of duty in response to an unrelated investigation," the sheriff's department has announced. Sheriff Alex Villanueva suspended the deputies on Monday, according to Deputy Shawn Du Busky of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "When you're relieved of duty, they usually take your badge and firearm so you're unable to do any police action pending the end of the investigation," Du Busky told City News Service Friday.
Fugitive suspected of murdering the mother of his child in LA is arrested in Mexico, extradited
With the assistance of the FBI's Fugitive Task Force, the Los Angeles Police Department has arrested a man in connection with the 2017 shooting death of the 23-year-old mother of his child. In a joint effort with the FBI, Mexican authorities located and arrested Andres Zambrano in Colima, Mexico, on Friday. He was extradited to Los Angeles, where he was booked for an outstanding murder warrant, the LAPD said.
City News Service
Fashion mogul Peter Nygard arrested in Canada amid sexual assault allegations
Flamboyant fashion mogul Peter Nygard has been busted on charges of sexually assaulting dozens of teenage girls and women for decades, Manhattan federal prosecutors said on Tuesday. The 79-year-old Finnish-born designer and businessman - whose women's apparel company was headquartered in Times Square - is accused of fueling his "near-daily'' need for sex with victims as young as 14.
New York Post
Counterfeit products await Amazon, Walmart, and eBay holiday shoppers
Holiday shoppers expect their online shopping experience will provide authentic and safe products - but that confidence is misplaced. Walmart, Amazon, and eBay are flooded with counterfeit, replica, and fraudulent products. The coronavirus pandemic adds additional obstacles for consumers who wish to avoid stores and crowds and flock to online sites unaware of the dangers and scams.
The Counterfeit Report
Jail time for nonviolent drug crimes in California would be cut under Scott Wiener bill
California lawmakers are reviving an effort to end mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, proposing to give judges discretion to hand down probation instead of jail time for offenses such as possessing a small amount of heroin for sale and manufacturing methamphetamine. SB73, introduced last week, is the fourth bill in as many legislative sessions to try to reduce state penalties.
San Francisco Chronicle
Attorney General William Barr is leaving the Trump administration
Attorney General William Barr, who served as President Donald Trump's most effective shield and advocate for broad presidential authority, will resign next week as the administration draws to a disputed close. Trump announced the news of Barr's departure Monday evening on Twitter.
Cop charged in Floyd killing asks for trial delay
One of the four officers involved in the fatal arrest of George Floyd is seeking sanctions and a postponed trial, claiming prosecutors withheld a medical examiner's interview for over two months. Attorney Robert Paule, representing now-fired Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao, filed a motion Friday morning seeking attorney's fees and a four-month continuance of his client's trial.
Courthouse News Service
Oracle moving from California to Texas, joins Tesla, Hewlett Packard
The smart money may be sticking together and sticking it to California. Oracle is joining Tesla and Hewlett Packard Enterprise in moving some operations to Texas, detailing the move in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission late Friday. While the move signals working remotely is here to stay, it also signals more corporations could be becoming disillusioned with California.
US government agencies hacked; Russia possible culprit
Hackers broke into the networks of federal agencies including the Treasury and Commerce departments in attacks revealed just days after U.S. officials warned that cyber actors linked to the Russian government were exploiting vulnerabilities to target sensitive data. The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security's cybersecurity arm are investigating what experts and former officials said appeared to be a large-scale penetration of U.S. government agencies.
California unemployment: Bank of America reveals it paid millions to 'double-dipping' EDD fraudsters
We've reported how EDD has paid scammers at least a billion dollars in phony unemployment claims. Now, a stunning development. Bank of America has revealed it paid EDD fraudsters hundreds of millions of dollars too. The scammers had made false claims of fraudulent use of their EDD debit cards...it was fraudsters claiming fraud. Now Bank of America is trying to claw back that money from criminals - but it's also taking money from honest workers with legitimate claims.
ABC7 Los Angeles
Bay Area man allegedly reached out to Texas cop posing as teen and offered to be her pimp. Within weeks, he arranged to bring her to California, feds say
Last March, agents with Homeland Security Investigations in Texas set up a fake online profile posing as a 16-year-old girl. Within days, they received a private message from a man who promised they'd make money together and encouraged her to "think about your future." The private message described the man as a "King" and told the girl he would double her money "so we both can eat good," according to a criminal complaint.
Bay Area Newsgroup
Marin legislator renews effort to end death penalty
Assemblyman Marc Levine is once again leading a bid to abolish the death penalty in California. Levine, D-Greenbrae, supported by a coalition of lawmakers, introduced Assembly Constitutional Amendment 2 on Monday. If approved by two-thirds of the Legislature, it would be placed on the November 2024 ballot. If approved by voters, the measure would prohibit a criminal sentence of death and require the resentencing of existing death penalty cases.
Marin Independent Journal
Despite coronavirus shutdowns, revenues expected to rise in LA, Orange and Riverside counties
Even before COVID began body-slamming the economy, California's counties were slipping deeper into debt. An analysis by former state Sen. John Moorlach - a certified public accountant who lost his seat in Sacramento in November but is aiming to return to the Orange County Board of Supervisors next year - found that the twin burdens of pension promises and health benefits for retired workers has vastly increased the financial strain on county governments over the past decade and, by extension, on taxpayers as well.
Orange County Register
COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory for NYPD members, Shea says
The COVID-19 vaccine will not be mandatory for NYPD members, Commissioner Dermot Shea said Tuesday - as he announced that the department is expected to receive its first shipment in a matter of weeks. In an interview with NY1, the city's top cop said NYPD head surgeon Dr. Eli Kleinman and Chief of Personnel Martin Morales are going "full steam" preparing for the arrival of the vaccine, working with the state and the city Department of Health.
New York Post
The untold story of how the Golden State Killer was found: A covert operation and private DNA
The dramatic arrest in 2018 of Joseph James DeAngelo Jr. was all the more astounding because of how detectives said they caught the elusive Golden State Killer - by harnessing genetic technology already in use by millions of consumers to trace their family trees. But the DNA-matching effort that caught one of America's most notorious serial killers was more extensive than previously disclosed and involved covert searches of private DNA housed by two for-profit companies despite privacy policies, according to interviews and court discovery records accessed by The Times.
Los Angeles Times
Santa Ana police officer agrees to plead guilty to bribery charge
A Santa Ana Police officer was charged today with accepting $128,000 in bribes from a crime figure seeking to thwart law enforcement activities against his illegally operating businesses. Steven Lopez, 28, of Chino, was charged with bribery in a single-count information filed today in United States District Court. In a plea agreement also filed today, Lopez agreed to plead guilty to this felony offense.
U.S. Attorney's Office News Release
Ventura man sentenced to six years in prison for killing Ventura County jail inmate
A Ventura County jail inmate was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday for killing a fellow inmate. Daniel Fuller, 36, of Ventura, pleaded guilty in October to involuntary manslaughter for the Sept. 11, 2018, killing of Jeffrey Kibler, 53 of Ventura, according to the Ventura County District Attorney's Office. Kibler and Fuller were being housed in the same housing unit of the jail, said Senior Deputy District Attorney Melissa Suttner.
Ventura County Star
Corrections & Parole
A whistleblower said high-level prison officials were wasting money. Was the inquiry biased?
Two high-ranking officials in California's prison system might have broken state rules so that one of them could work from home, make a 250-mile commute on state time and use a state vehicle for the drive. But the state's taxpayers will never know for sure, due to the "flawed and biased" way the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation handled a 2018 whistleblower complaint making those allegations, according to a new report from the Office of the Inspector General.
Parole denied in three Yolo County 'lifer' cases
Yolo County prosecutors virtually attended three lifer parole hearings this week for inmates in three separate prisons across the state. On Tuesday, a two-commissioner panel of the Board of Parole Hearings denied release to 27-year-old Alejandro Sanchez, who in 2010 was sentenced to prison for 15 years to life for a Woodland sexual assault.
California prison employees kept getting paid after misconduct, delays cost taxpayers nearly $1M
A state prison watchdog says the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has been delaying employee investigations that lead to firings and other discipline, driving up the state's costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Prison employees have kept getting paid for months after they are accused of things like lying to investigators, abusing spouses, driving drunk or engaging in sexual misconduct with prisoners or coworkers, according to a report from the Office of the Inspector General.
Death row inmate at San Quentin State Prison dies after being found unresponsive in cell
A condemned inmate at San Quentin State Prison has died after being found unresponsive in his cell this morning. The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said they found Noel Jesse Plata at around 3:50 a.m. Staff performed life-saving measures and outside medical assistance was summoned. However, he was ultimately pronounced dead.
UCI and CDCR sign MOU to partner on new in-prison bachelor's degree program
The University of California, Irvine and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation signed a memorandum of understanding for the design of the first in-prison Bachelor of Arts program offered by the University of California system. The Leveraging Inspiring Futures Through Educational Degrees project will enable incarcerated students at Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego to earn a sociology degree.
ICE detainer not honored, convicted child murderer released
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lodged an immigration detainer on a Salvadoran national serving time for a murder conviction at the California Department of Corrections at Pleasant Valley Prison in Chowchilla, California, Aug. 28, 2013. The request was not honored, and Carlos Morales-Ramirez was released onto the streets Dec. 4.
ICE News Release
Articles of Interest
California voters cast all-time record amount of votes
Like most places in the United States, California voters turned out for the 2020 presidential election. The Golden State set a record for all-time votes cast with 17,785,151, exceeding the previous record by about 3.1 million votes. The turnout of registered voters was 80.67%, the highest since the 1976 presidential election, which featured Democrat Jimmy Carter beating Republican Gerald Ford (Ford won California that year).
Courthouse News Service
Gov. Newsom's companies got $3 million in relief loans
Companies affiliated with California Gov. Gavin Newsom received nearly $3 million in federal loans created to help small businesses survive the pandemic, more than eight times the amount originally reported, according to newly released information from the U.S. government. Nine businesses tied to Newsom's PlumpJack Group split the nearly $2.9 million in loans through the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program, according to new figures released last week.
With his star dimmed, California's Newsom could face recall
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has had a rough year. The next one might be even tougher as a recall effort appears to be gaining momentum, fueled partly by outrage over the first-term Democrat dining with friends at an opulent restaurant while telling state residents to spurn social gatherings and stay home. It's not uncommon in California for residents to seek recalls but they rarely get on the ballot - and even fewer succeed.
States bring antitrust suit over Google's grip on ad market
A group of 10 states led by Texas filed an antitrust lawsuit against Google on Wednesday, claiming the tech giant struck an unlawful agreement with Facebook to manipulate advertising auctions. The lawsuit also claims Google forced online publishers to license its software to do business with over 1 million advertisers who used it as their middleman.
Courthouse News Service
Multiemployer pension reform not happening this year
Multiemployer pension reform will not happen this year, Senate Republicans involved in negotiations said. In a joint statement, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee said late Monday that time ran out for having it included in end-of-year legislation before the 116th Congress adjourns.
Pensions & Investments
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