Homeless Man Out on Zero Bail Rapes, Murders, Kills Dogs and Sets House on Fire; California May End Criminal Sentencing Enhancement Statewide ala Gascon; LA Anti-Camping Law Goes Into Effect; and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo
Lawsuit over unauthorized eavesdropping by Siri; Newsom to make it illegal to remove a condom; Man sent to prison for overcharging on toner cartridges
September 16, 2021
Courts & Rulings
Federal court upholds ban on seizure of oversize items in public areas by LAPD, sanitation workers
A federal appeals panel on Thursday affirmed a ruling prohibiting Los Angeles police and sanitation workers from seizing and tossing oversized items stashed in public places, frequently by the homeless. The split decision by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena upholds last year's lower court decision that bans the city from enforcing an ordinance stopping people from keeping "bulky'' items - which cannot fit into a 60-gallon container - on public walkways.
City News Service
Black Lives Matter activist from Long Beach to face trial for driving through Yorba Linda crowd, judge rules
A Long Beach activist will stand trial on attempted murder for driving through a crowd of protestors during a violent confrontation between opposing sides at a Yorba Linda demonstration, a judge ruled Thursday. Orange County Superior Court Judge Beatriz M.G. Gordon following three days of testimony in her Fullerton courtroom determined there is enough evidence for the case against Tatiana Rita Turner, 41, to proceed to jury trial.
Orange County Register
Judge lets stand L.A. ban on homeless RV parking - because the city isn’t enforcing it
A law that prohibits homeless people from parking recreational vehicles overnight in some locations has sidestepped a constitutional challenge, for now, after Los Angeles city officials told a federal judge the law is not being enforced. While not addressing the constitutional issues, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter declined to issue a preliminary injunction against the law as long as the moratorium remains in effect.
Los Angeles Times
California judge tells unmasked attorneys, 'if you get COVID, congratulations’
A California federal judge employing unusually relaxed COVID-19 protections during trial told unmasked attorneys in his courtroom this week that if they get infected, they’re solely to blame. “I’ve made you totally responsible for the area you sit in, therefore if you get COVID, congratulations. You are totally responsible. I’m not joking,” said U.S. District Judge David Carter of the Central District of California.
Anti-tracking law invalidly applied to man who placed device on car he co-owned
The Appellate Division of the Orange Superior Court has reversed the conviction of a man who ascertained the whereabouts of his estranged wife at a resort in Rancho Palos Verdes through the use of a tracking device on the car she was driving, holding the statute rendering it a misdemeanor to use such apparatus does not give a clear warning that it applies to unauthorized surveillance where the vehicle is co-owned by the defendant.
As expected, appellate court rejects appeal by Marsh’s attorneys to be re-heard under SB 1391
On technical grounds, the Third District Court of Appeals has dismissed the petition by Daniel Marsh to have his case fall under the auspices of SB 1391 which would eliminate “the authority of a prosecutor to seek transfer to adult criminal court of a minor who was 14 or 15 years old at the time of an offense.” The family and crime victims advocates have used the Marsh case as a reason to attempt to push legislators to repeal SB 1391 which they believe is overly broad.
The Davis Vanguard
Federal judge won’t dismiss lawsuit against ICE in California. What happens next?
A U.S. District judge last week denied a government’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement over the agency’s use of private security guards to make arrests in California’s prisons. The denial comes as a piece of legislation that would stop the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation from transferring individuals to immigration officials, altogether, awaits its fate from the state Senate.
Appeals court rules employee is not entitled to lost wages when racial bias wasn’t the cause for termination
A California appeals court has found that an employee who suffered racial harassment was still fired for legitimate reasons and thus was not entitled to lost wages. As a result, a jury award that included such damages was improper and not upheld by the appeals court. The plaintiff claimed that the termination of employment was racially motivated and provoked in retaliation for making complaints concerning the harassment and discrimination they were facing.
Bail bond company can’t appeal error in ordering summary judgment against it
Div. One of the Court of Appeal for this district has held that where a defendant did not show up for trial and grace period for producing him had expired, the judge might have erred in ordering summary judgment against a bail bond company by failing to take into account the Judicial Council’s April 2020 emergency rule tolling all statutes of limitations in civil cases, but if she did, there was still no right of appeal.
Opioid judge rejects Giant Eagle's motion to dismiss despite 'full compliance' with rules
The judge overseeing federal multidistrict litigation against the opioid industry rejected pharmacy operator Giant Eagle’s motions to dismiss, saying that even though the Drug Enforcement Agency found the company in “full compliance” with federal regulations after multiple inspections, only a jury can decide whether it caused a public nuisance by filling too many prescriptions.
Agreement giving lawyers 'sole discretion' to settle client's case violates ethics rules, appeals court says
A California appeals court has voided a provision in a contingent-fee agreement that gave personal injury lawyers the “sole discretion” to settle a client’s case. The Fourth Appellate District in the California Courts of Appeal ruled last week that the provision violates attorney ethics rules and is void to the extent that it allows an attorney the right to accept a settlement over the client’s objection.
C.A .: Dissatisfaction over cake isn’t a ‘public issue’
“This case is about a birthday cake,” Court of Appeal Justice John Shepard Wiley Jr. announced at the outset of an opinion, filed Friday, affirming the denial of an anti-SLAPP motion in an action against a “jeweler to the stars,” with 1.5 million followers on Instagram, who used that platform to blast a bakery that delivered a cake for his son’s seventh birthday celebration adorned with confections that looked like pills.
Biden nominates three LASC judges, five others, to courts
President Joseph Biden yesterday nominated three Los Angeles Superior Court judges to judicial posts, with Judge Holly A. Thomas chosen for a seat on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Judges Hernán D. Vera and Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong selected to fill vacancies on the U.S. District Court of the Central District of California. The president also named Justice Gabriel P. Sanchez of California’s First District Court of Appeal and U.S. District Court Judge Lucy H. Koh of the Northern District of California to serve on the Ninth Circuit.
Pasadena resident among six Newsom L.A. County bench appointments
Gov. Gavin Newsom last week announced the appointment of eight new Los Angeles County judges, among them Tara L. Newman of Pasadena. Newman, 46, has been a state deputy attorney general with the California Department of Justice’s Office of the Attorney General since 2008. Previously, Newman was a sole practitioner from 2006 to 2008, an associate at Ivie McNeill & Wyatt from 2003 to 2006 and at Buchalter, Nemer, Fields & Younger from 1998 to 2003.
City News Service
Los Angeles District Attorney
Veteran prosecutor sues LA County, Gascon, alleging retaliation
A veteran prosecutor is suing Los Angeles County, alleging he has been defamed, denied promotions and had his fitness to practice law questioned because he has been an outspoken critic of District Attorney George Gascón’s reform directives. Deputy District Attorney Jon Hatami‘s lawsuit alleges retaliation, race discrimination, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
City News Service
RFK's widow Ethel Kennedy says Sirhan Sirhan should not be paroled
Robert F. Kennedy's widow said Tuesday that his killer, Sirhan Sirhan, should not be freed, despite the recommendation of a parole board last month. "Bobby believed we should work to `tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the world.' He wanted to end the war in Vietnam and bring people together to build a better, stronger country. More than anything, he wanted to be a good father and loving husband," Ethel Kennedy, 93, said in a statement Tuesday.
City News Service
Man charged with setting family dog on fire
A Los Angeles man was charged today with killing his family's dog by setting the animal ablaze with lighter fluid. Brandon Jerold Smith, 24, was set to be arraigned Wednesday in a Compton courtroom on one felony count each of cruelty to animals and arson of property of another, along with an allegation that he used lighter fluid as a deadly and dangerous weapon, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
City News Service
San Quentin correctional officer accused of smuggling phones to death row inmates
A correctional officer from San Quentin State Prison this week appeared in federal court to face charges that he smuggled cellphones into death row in exchange for money. Keith Christopher, 37, of Pittsburg was charged in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California with conspiracy to commit honest services fraud using interstate wires.
Sex offender who vowed to molest again in violation of registry
Cary Jay Smith, a convicted sex offender who repeatedly vowed to keep molesting children and openly fantasized about torturing and killing little boys, is in violation of the state's sex offender registration requirements for failing to update his whereabouts with local law enforcement, according to the California Attorney General's Office. Since his release from a state hospital last year, Smith has spent time in Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Riverside counties.
Newport Beach-Corona Del Mar Patch
LA DA Gascón announces arrest of former GOP state lawmaker and city manager in City of Industry corruption scandal
Frank Hill, a former Whittier GOP Assemblymember, and three other men were charged with embezzlement and misappropriation of millions of dollars that were earmarked for a solar farm study in the City of Industry, according to an announcement Friday by LA County District Attorney George Gascón. Hill, who was convicted in a 1994 FBI sting at the State Capitol for extorting $2,500 from an undercover FBI agent, was joined by William Barkett, Anthony Bouza, former City Manager Paul Philips in a 12-count felony complaint.
The Davis Vanguard
Suspected drug trafficking leader extradited from Mexico
Mexico on Friday extradited one of its citizens suspected of leading a transnational drug trafficking organization. The lead defendant in a 22-count indictment, Angel Humberto Chavez-Gastelum "has been designated by the United States government as one of the world’s most-wanted drug traffickers," according to a statement announcing the extradition from the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California.
Courthouse News Service
In Silicon Valley, criminal prosecutors see no evil
The coronavirus pandemic has helped Silicon Valley companies in many ways, from bringing them hordes of new customers to weakening the competition to juicing the bottom line. Here’s a less obvious benefit: the threat of criminal prosecution has nearly disappeared. That fact is obscured by the case against Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of the defunct blood-testing company Theranos and the most prominent executive to face criminal fraud charges in the history of Silicon Valley.
San Francisco Examiner
Sac'to bill that could prevent courts statewide from applying sentencing enhancements is one vote away from heading to governor's desk
A Sacramento bill - SB 81 - that could effectively require courts statewide to dismiss sentencing enhancements under various circumstances - is one state Senate vote from heading to Governor Newsom's desk where he could sign it into law, let it become law without his signature, or veto it. SB 81 faces a deadline of Sept. 10 for final passage or it dies.
LAPD responds to report on practice of monitoring, collecting social media
In response to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice that the Los Angeles Police Department gives broad authorization to its officers to collect social media data from people they interact with on patrol, the LAPD claimed today that social media handles can be “critical pieces of contact information.’'
City News Service
Restorative justice or justice denied? With D.A. Gascón, teens tried as adults get a second chance
When he saw a Los Angeles police detective walking toward his mother's doorstep this year, Guillermo Orellana feared the worst. The sight called him back to 2013, when the same investigator pulled Orellana's mother aside in a hospital room and delivered a grim message: his younger sibling, Kevin, had been stabbed to death by two brothers on a Reseda handball court in what police would term a gang-related killing.
Los Angeles Times
CDAA warns of dangerous public safety legislation that would protect gang members: AB 333
The California District Attorneys Association (CDAA) is warning Californians of some dangerous legislation headed for a vote in the state Assembly after a bad faith move by the bill’s author. At the very moment the state is reeling from a dramatic surge in homicides and shootings, many of them gang related, state Senator Sydney Kamlager is trying to slip through AB 333, a bill that would dramatically weaken the ability of prosecutors to put violent gang members behind bars.
CDAA News Release
Los Angeles County/City
Los Angeles anti-camping ordinance goes into effect, bars homeless from parks, school areas
Hoping to quell a rising tide of homeless encampments that have become a political lightning rod in the city, a City Council anti-camping ordinance went into effect today. The new law bars homeless encampments in specific areas, such as parks and near schools. However, the details of the new ordinance are still being worked out. The selection and processing of the areas where such encampments will be banned has yet to be determined.
Encampment fires targeting the homeless (Video)
There’s been an explosion in the number of fires that burn each month in the city of LA, many of those fires have happened in homeless encampments. Eric Leonard reports for NBC4 News at 11 p.m. on Sept. 3, 2021.
LA employees must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination (Video)
The employees must provide proof that they’ve received at least one vaccine dose. Eric Leonard reports for the NBC4 News on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021.
Sidewalk diners robbed at gunpoint on Melrose in terrifying incident caught on video
A terrifying armed robbery of sidewalk diners on Melrose Avenue was caught on camera. The video shows two men walking up to several people dining on the sidewalk. One man points a gun and they both start to rifle through the shocked customers' belongings, grabbing purses, wallets and shopping bags before running away on foot. The whole sequence took less than 20 seconds.
Malibu machete attack against family costs dad an eye; 2 homeless suspects arrested
A father of two lost an eye after he and his family were attacked last weekend by a homeless man with a machete on a beach in Malibu, an affluent city in Los Angeles County, the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said. The suspect, identified as Richard Franck, was charged this week with attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon, FOX 11 of Los Angeles reported.
Transient parolee sexually assaults, murders woman, kills her dogs before lighting Sacramento home on fire
A “homeless” transient guy out on the streets despite his recent violation of parole, has been arrested for raping and murdering a Sacramento woman in the Land Park neighborhood Friday, killing her dogs and setting her house on fire. Troy Davis, 51, a parolee at large, was also let out on zero bail in June for stealing a car, even with his long history of violent crimes, and having recently been in prison for a violent felony.
Ben Dugan works for CVS. His job is battling a $45 billion crime spree.
Ben Dugan sat in an unmarked sedan in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood one day last September waiting for the CVS to be robbed. He tracked a man entering the store and watched as the thief stuffed more than $1,000 of allergy medicine into a trash bag, walked out and did the same at two other nearby stores, before loading them into a waiting van, Mr. Dugan recalled.
Wall Street Journal
Millions in stolen goods add to Amazon profits
Organized crime rings are stealing billions in merchandise to peddle online - often on Amazon, says a Wall Street Journal investigation. Online sales of stolen merchandise have plagued e-commerce sites for years, now supercharged by the pandemic and growth of unregulated websites. Consumers are on their own, left to sort through an inexhaustible supply of stolen, counterfeit, fraudulent, and replica goods from unvetted sellers allowed to sell just about anything they want.
The Counterfeit Report
Lawsuits say Siri and Google are listening, even when they’re not supposed to
Tech companies have long encouraged putting listening devices in homes and pockets, attempting to convince consumers to rely on their voice assistants for any little need that pops up. But some are growing concerned that these devices are recording even when they’re not supposed to - and they’re taking their fears to the courts.
How Facebook undermines privacy protections for its 2 billion WhatsApp users
When Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new “privacy-focused vision” for Facebook in March 2019, he cited the company’s global messaging service, WhatsApp, as a model. Acknowledging that “we don’t currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services,” the Facebook CEO wrote that “I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won’t stick around forever. This is the future I hope we will help bring about. We plan to build this the way we’ve developed WhatsApp.”
California moves to outlaw 'stealthing,' or removing condom
California lawmakers moved to make the state the first to outlaw “stealthing,” which is removing a condom without permission during intercourse. Legislators sent Gov. Gavin Newsom a bill on Tuesday adding the act to the state's civil definition of sexual battery. It makes it illegal to remove the condom without obtaining verbal consent. But it doesn't change the criminal code.
DAs and sheriffs elected in 2022 would get an extra 2 years in office under state bill
California district attorneys and county sheriffs elected in 2022 would get an extended six-year term under a bill moving through the Legislature designed to increase voter turnout. Assembly Bill 759 would put voting for top county prosecutors and sheriffs on the same track as the presidential election beginning in 2028.
Orange County Register
Bill to weed out bad law enforcement officers heads to Gov. Newsom
California lawmakers on Wednesday sent Gov. Gavin Newsom legislation to end the careers of bad law enforcement officers, a year after an earlier effort died without a final vote. The measure aims to keep troubled officers from jumping from one job to another by creating a mandatory new state license, or certification, that could be permanently revoked.
What is a crime victim’s life worth? Early release of killers at issue in recall election
As Californians decide whether to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom, it is worth considering what value the governor and his appointees place on the lives of murder victims. Two months after taking office, Gov. Newsom granted reprieve to all 737 convicted murderers sentenced to the death penalty, even to those 25 inmates on death row who murdered more than five victims.
Bill to end spousal rape distinction heads to California governor’s desk
On Wednesday, California State Assemblymembers voted overwhelmingly on Concurrence in favor of modernizing and equalizing California’s spousal rape law. The bill, AB 1171, that has Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens), Assemblymember Evan Low (D-Silicon Valley) and Senator Dave Cortese (D-Silicon Valley) as principal co-authors, was passed out of the California Assembly and the Senate with wide bipartisan support.
Sierra Sun Times
Father of murder victim slams CA Gov. Newsom for giving criminals ‘reprieve’
Marc Klaas, the father of murder victim Polly Klaas, argued on "Fox & Friends Weekend" on Sunday that California Gov. Gavin Newsom is giving criminals the "reprieve that they never gave their victims" with his soft-on-crime policies. In 2019, California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order that put a moratorium on the executions of the 737 inmates incarcerated in the Western Hemisphere’s largest death row.
Video in Palm Springs case puts bounty-hunter rules in spotlight: 'There's gonna be a lot of finger-pointing’
Fabian Herrera walked up to the front door of David Spann's Palm Springs condo just after 2 a.m. on April 23, and without warning attempted to kick it in, newly released video footage that is part of the criminal investigation into what would ultimately become a fatal shooting shows. He was followed closely behind by his mother, Lisa Vargas, who crouched behind a nearby shrub.
Palm Springs Desert Sun
California bill seeks to halt prison-to-ICE deportation pipeline
Leonel Sanchez thought he was about to go home to his family after serving three-and-a-half years for assault and other crimes in California, saying he felt redeemed after he started reading the Bible, attending Alcoholics Anonymous and even fighting wildfires as a prisoner. Instead of walking free, he became one of the 1,500 foreign-born California prisoners who earn their release each year, only to be transferred to federal detention and told they may be kicked out of the country.
Tucson backs off employee vaccine requirement after Arizona AG deems it illegal
The city of Tucson on Tuesday paused a policy of requiring employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19 after the state attorney general said the mandate was illegal. "I believe that the city vaccine policy is an important and necessary step to protect our staff and the community," said City Manager Michael Ortega. "Until we have a better understanding of our legal position in relation to today's report, I have instructed staff to pause on the implementation of the policy."
Courthouse News Service
What if you could save a life in three words? Well, there's an app for that
When nine-month-old Annie Bell stopped breathing earlier this year, suffering from what appeared to be a seizure, her mom, Katie, did what any mother would do: She called 9-1-1. But, as WSBT 22 reported, dispatchers couldn’t immediately send the help both mom and daughter needed because they couldn’t find their location. Over the next three minutes, as Annie lay on the ground with “glazed over” eyes, dispatchers struggled to pinpoint the location of the Bell’s new home - so new, in fact, that it hadn’t yet been added to the maps available to emergency services.
Former Montebello Police Officer Rudolph Petersen pleads guilty to taking $14,000 in bribes from drug trafficker
A former Montebello police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal charge of bribing a drug trafficker. Rudolph Petersen, 34, pleaded guilty to a single-count information charging him with bribery, according to the Department of Justice. Petersen, who served as a Montebello police officer for nearly four years, solicited and received several cash bribes from a gang member and drug trafficker, according to his plea agreement.
Driver who struck and killed off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain convicted of second-degree murder
A Mission Viejo man was convicted of murder Wednesday for striking and killing an off-duty Costa Mesa fire captain while driving under the influence of multiple drugs following several days of partying. An Orange County Superior Court jury found Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 27, guilty of second-degree murder for driving off the side of Alicia Parkway on a Saturday morning in November 2018 and fatally striking 44-year-old Mike Kreza, who was out for a morning bike ride.
Orange County Register
California man, 79, sentenced to 4 years for charging small businesses and charities hugely inflated prices for printer toner
A 79-year-old toner salesman was sentenced to four years in prison for running a decades-long, multimillion-dollar scam that caused tens of thousands of small businesses and charities to pay hugely inflated prices for printer cartridges. Gilbert Michaels of West Los Angeles was accused of utilizing boiler-room telemarketing businesses to dupe victims into paying as much as 10 times the retail price for toner, federal prosecutors said. He was convicted with six others of conspiracy, mail fraud and money laundering in December 2019.
Former inmate sentenced to five years in prison for jailhouse COVID-19 unemployment benefits fraud
Christina Smith, 38, who was formerly incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility (CCWF) in Chowchilla, was sentenced today to five years in prison for conspiracy and aggravated identity theft charges for the submission of fraudulent unemployment insurance claims to the California Employment Development Department (EDD) in the names of current CCWF inmates, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
Department of Justice News Release
One-time EDD employee agrees to plead guilty for fraudulently obtaining over $1.6 million in COVID-related jobless benefits
A former California Employment Development Department (EDD) employee has agreed to plead guilty to a federal criminal charge for causing nearly 200 fraudulent COVID-related unemployment relief claims to be filed in other people’s names, resulting in more than $1.6 million in ill-gotten gains, the Justice Department announced today. Gabriela Llerenas, a.k.a. “Maria G. Sandoval,” 49, of Perris, signed a plea agreement that was filed today in which she has agreed to plead guilty to a single-count information charging her with mail fraud.
Department of Justice News Release
Corrections & Parole
Community reentry program for prisoners reduces recidivism
California’s bet on transitional rehabilitation programs is novel, and recent evidence suggests it is paying off. Based on a Stanford University study of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s Male Community Reentry Program, we know rehabilitation works. The best budget move would be to extend and expand the program to reduce recidivism and save money. Not to mention, it gives other states a model to replicate.
New bill helps recently released prisoners get IDs
Troy Shaffer was released earlier this month after being in prison for 17 years for a series of burglary and car theft charges. Because he didn’t have a photo on file, he was released with only his prison ID. That created a huge barrier for him as he tried to start his life and reintegrate into society. Without proper identification, formerly incarcerated people can’t open bank accounts, apply for Medi-Cal, jobs, or even housing.
Articles of Interest
‘Jeopardy!’ host Mike Richards faces call for investigation by anti-defamation league over ethnic slurs, racist remarks
The controversy surrounding Mike Richards’ newly-minted “Jeopardy!” hosting gig continues. The Anti-Defamation League is calling for an investigation into the television personality’s “pattern” of offensive comments. Tweeting a link to the Washington Post’s coverage of Richards’ resurfaced remarks, the ADL published the following statement Thursday: “New Jeopardy! host Mike Richards’ disparaging remarks about Jews, women & Asians are no laughing matter. Stereotyping is an entry point to hate and his apology lacks acknowledgment of its harm. This reported pattern warrants an investigation.”
More first responders dying of COVID-19 amid resistance to vaccine mandates
March 11, 2021. It was supposed to be a turning point in the coronavirus pandemic for Erin Tokley, a longtime Philadelphia police officer, Baptist minister and 47-year-old father of three. It was supposed to be the day of his vaccine appointment. Instead it was the date of his funeral. Tokley - “Toke” to his friends and family - died on March 3, becoming the Philadelphia Police Department’s sixth confirmed COVID-19 death.
With Trump in the rearview mirror, Proud Boys offer muscle at rallies against vaccine mandates, masks
After lying low for months since the Capitol insurrection Jan. 6, members of the far-right street gang the Proud Boys have been showing up at protests against mask mandates and coronavirus vaccine requirements. In recent weeks, Proud Boys have been spotted at rallies in at least five states. From Los Angeles to Columbus, Ohio, members have scrapped with counterprotesters after gathering for events branded as pro-freedom, pro-patriot or anti-COVID-19 restrictions.
Listen: Is Proposition 47's criminal justice reform a success?
California’s Prop. 47, the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, was a crime reform ballot measure passed in 2014. On this episode of the It's All Political podcast, host Joe Garofoli talks with Lenore Anderson, co-author of the measure, known as the Safe Neighborhoods and Schools Act, and co-founder of Californians for Safety and Justice, one of the leading criminal justice reform groups in California.
San Francisco Chronicle
‘Varsity Blues' trial promises fresh insights in old scandal
The first trial in the “Operation Varsity Blues” college admissions bribery scandal will begin this week, with the potential to shed light on investigators’ tactics and brighten the spotlight on a secretive school selection process many have long complained is rigged to favor the rich. Jury selection is beginning Wednesday in federal court in Boston in the case against two parents - former casino executive Gamal Abdelaziz and former Staples and Gap Inc. executive John Wilson - who are accused of paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to help get their kids into the University of Southern California by falsely presenting them as athletic recruits.
As California burns, teacher pension postpones divestment
As the climate crisis sent thousands fleeing wildfires in Northern California, CalSTRS, the nation's second largest public pension fund, postponed full divestment from fossil fuels for nearly 30 years. Over objections from CTADivest, organizers within the powerhouse California Teachers Association, the retirement fund's investment committee voted unanimously September 1, 2021,to support a staff recommendation to adopt a net-zero Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) portfolio by 2050 or sooner.
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