Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Parole Recommended for Manson Family Member; Gascon Releases Convicted Killer; LA Park Rangers May Get Guns; San Fran DA Faces Recall Election; and Other Stories: Monday Morning Memo

OC DA will charge drug dealers with murder; Stolen cars being shipped out of the country; SD Sheriff recorded protected attorney-inmate conversations; Biden blocks CA infrastructure money

 

November 20, 2021

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Dorit Kemsley, star of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," was reportedly held at gunpoint for 20 minutes during a home invasion robbery

Courts & Rulings

Judge Ito won't rubber-stamp Gascón's recommendation

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Roger T. Ito yesterday made it clear yesterday that he is the fact-finder in a habeas corpus proceeding and is not bound by the District Attorney's Office's concession that a double murderer is entitled to be relieved of a death sentence. District Attorney George Gascón has opted to support the contention that inmate Samuel Zamudio may not be executed under the U.S. Supreme Court's 2005 pronouncement in Atkins v. Virginia that capital punishment is impermissible under the Eighth Amendment where the defendant is "intellectually disabled."

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Judge Terrell asked to boot deputy PD from acting for prosecution in sentencing matter

A former president of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys is asking Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Terrell to determine if it's ethically permissible for a deputy public defender who is on loan to the District Attorney's Office to be representing the People in a proceeding to determine if the 27-year sentence of a woman who pled no contest to voluntary manslaughter should be shortened. A hearing is scheduled for Monday.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Judge denies DA union's request for injunction contesting Gascón hires

A judge Wednesday denied a request by the union representing Los Angeles County deputy district attorneys for a preliminary injunction preventing what the rank-and-file maintain is the hiring of unqualified candidates, including some from the Public Defender's Office, by District Attorney George Gascón. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff said the Association of Deputy District Attorneys' request was premature because there are ongoing internal proceedings before the Los Angeles County Civil Service Commission regarding appeals of previous Gascón hires.

MyNewsLA

LA police union denied TRO over vaccination mandate

The union representing LAPD officers lost a round Wednesday in its lawsuit alleging unfair labor negotiations related to the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for municipal employees when a judge denied its members' request for a temporary restraining order against the directive. The Los Angeles Police Protective League alleges the city failed to negotiate in good faith by withholding information about the city's testing contractor, Bluestone.

MyNewsLA

Accused Southern California shooter is not competent to stand trial, judge finds

A man accused of killing four people after opening fire at a Southern California business complex is not competent to stand trial, an Orange County judge determined Friday. The decision by Judge Cheri Pham means the criminal proceedings against Aminadab Gaxiola Gonzalez will be suspended while he receives treatment, reports the Orange County Register. Pham made the decision in response to evaluations of Gonzalez by two mental health experts appointed by the court and a third hired by the Orange County District Attorney's Office.

UPI

Los Angeles juvenile detainees lose Covid suit for early release

Juvenile detainees in Los Angeles County failed to show that inadequate Covid-19 safety protocols at detention centers in the county violated their due process rights, a state appellate court said Wednesday. In April 2020, attorneys from the Center for Juvenile Law and Policy at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, and the Independent Juvenile Defender Program of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, among others, filed a petition for a writ of mandate, contending the Los Angeles Superior Court's Covid-19 procedures failed to protect detained juveniles.

Bloomberg Law

Justices look for narrow ruling in mosque sting operation

During two hours of oral argument, the justices of the Supreme Court grappled Monday morning with how to avoid creating a broad new precedent on state secrets as it rules in a decade-old class action over the FBI spying on Muslim communities. The case concerns the counterterrorism investigation "Operation Flex," wherein Craig Monteilh adopted the name Farouk al-Aziz as a purported declaration of faith to obtain information for the FBI on Southern California-area Muslims.

Courthouse News Service

Appeals court stays vaccine mandate on larger businesses

A federal appeals court on Saturday temporarily halted the Biden administration's vaccine requirement for businesses with 100 or more workers. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted an emergency stay of the requirement by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration that those workers be vaccinated by Jan. 4 or face mask requirements and weekly tests. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said the action stops Democratic President Joe Biden "from moving forward with his unlawful overreach."

AP

Trump loses bid to keep Jan. 6 records from House committee investigating riot

A federal judge on Tuesday sided with the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot by refusing to block the release of scores of White House documents from the Trump administration. The ruling from Judge Tanya S. Chutkan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia means the first batch of disputed documents is set to be turned over to the House select committee by Friday.

NBC News

U.S. Supreme Court divided over condemned murderer's religious request

U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday appeared divided over a bid by a man sentenced to death for a fatal 2004 stabbing outside a convenience store to have his pastor lay hands on him during his execution in Texas in a case testing how far states must go to accommodate religious requests by condemned inmates. The justices heard more than 90 minutes of oral arguments in convicted murderer John Henry Ramirez's appeal after Texas officials refused his request to let his Christian pastor touch him and audibly pray as he dies from the lethal injection and lower courts refused to issue a stay of execution.

Reuters

US Supreme Court agrees to hear arguments in opioid prescription cases

The US Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in Ruan v. United States and Kahn v. United States. Both cases concern appeals from doctors who were convicted of illegally distributing prescription drugs. The cases center around the question of whether doctors can defend themselves against these claims by arguing that they acted in good faith.

Jurist

Maintaining old press releases on website telling of crimes doesn't invade privacy

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday denied the bid by a Los Angeles County resident for reinstatement of his action to force the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to remove from their websites four press releases issued between 2007 and 2011 telling of the prosecution, conviction, and sentencing of him for mortgage fraud. Identified in the civil action as "John Doe," he contended that maintaining the press releases on the websites invades his right to privacy.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Los Angeles District Attorney

Lacey, Cooley back deputy DA union's legal action over Gascón hires

Two former Los Angeles County district attorneys have lent their support to a legal action by the union representing Los Angeles County deputy district attorneys to prevent what the rank and file maintain is the hiring of unqualified candidates, including some from the Public Defender's Office, by current District Attorney George Gascón.

HeySoCal

LA County sheriff rips liberal DA George Gascon for releasing convicted killer

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department harshly criticized a deputy district attorney after she allowed a convicted murderer to be released. The Los Angeles Daily News reported that L.A. County Deputy District Attorney Alisa Blair did not present evidence at a hearing last week meant to determine if Andrew Cachu should serve his full sentence for killing Louis Amela, 41, in March 2015.

Fox News

LA County DA Gascón under fire as convicted killer set to be released 6 years into 50-year sentence

As George Gascón closes in on his one year anniversary as Los Angeles County's district attorney, another controversial move by his office is raising questions about his criminal justice system reform policies. This month, his office used a legal technicality that will lead to the release of Andrew Cachu, a convicted murderer and documented gang member who was sentenced to 50 years in prison.

ABC7

To reduce incarceration - reduce serious and violent crime

African-Americans make up 9% of LA City's population but constitute 36 percent of its homicide victims. This contrasts with the City's white population, where thirty percent of the population comprises eight percent of homicide victims. In light of this disparity shouldn't we expect our County District Attorney and other LA City and County government office holders to advocate for increased police protection of the most vulnerable communities?

Joseph P. Charney

DA's office centralizes charge evaluations

The District Attorney's Office yesterday announced that it has launched a centralized charge evaluation system to ensure county-wide consistency in filing decisions. District Attorney George Gascón commented: "We're centralizing the decision-making process to ensure that the same conduct leads to similar results regardless of where a crime occurs in Los Angeles County. Consistency in the initial case evaluation and filing is essential to achieving equal justice for all people in our county."

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Prosecutors

Orange County DA will begin prosecuting drug dealers for murder

The Orange County District Attorney's office will begin prosecuting convicted drug dealers for murder as fentanyl-related deaths continue to drastically rise. "Currently in the Orange County Coroner Office there's 450 drug-related deaths that are pending toxicology," said district attorney Todd Spitzer. "I'm going to tell you it's probably going to be true that all those deaths are related to fentanyl. I'm not going to let drug dealers get away with murder. It's not going to happen anymore."

CBS LA

Martin Arias, facing charges of sexual battery and indecent exposure, may have more victims

Prosecutors say a man who was charged with indecent exposure for attacking a woman on a Ventura bike path may have more victims. Martin Valdez Arias, 28, of Ventura was charged Wednesday with felony indecent exposure, according to Ventura County District Attorney Erik Nasarenko. Arias is being held without bail and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on Nov. 17. According to the district attorney, Arias attacked a woman on the bike path bordering Highway 126 near Ventura Community Park while riding a silver-and-black bicycle on Sept. 1.

CBS LA

L.A. County sheriff's custody assistant charged with trying to bring meth into downtown jail

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department custody assistant has been charged with trying to bring methamphetamine into the Men's Central Jail nearly three years ago, officials announced Tuesday. Jose Flores, 42, faces one felony count each of transportation of a controlled substance and attempted bringing of an illegal substance into a jail, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office. The department originally said the defendant was 30 years old.

KTLA

Mother, father charged after child dies from fentanyl overdose

The mother of a 15-month-old child has been charged with murder and the father with child endangerment after a Riverside County sheriff's investigation determined their child died of a fentanyl overdose in Jurupa Valley two months ago, a Riverside County district attorney's spokesman said. Adler Metcalf, 22, and Sandy Acuna, 20, were arrested Wednesday by detectives with the county sheriff's Overdose Death Investigations and Narcotics Unit after an investigation following the death of their child on Sept.1, sheriff's officials said in a statement.

Los Angeles Times

Prosecutors step up charges for those dealing in fentanyl

Some Southern California prosecutors are stepping up charges against those who sell deadly, fentanyl-laced illegal drugs. The Orange County Register reports that District Attorney Todd Spitzer plans to issue an admonishment in plea deals warning that a dealer found to be involved in another fentanyl sale that results in death could be charged with murder. Nearby Riverside and San Bernardino counties have charged alleged dealers with murder, and so have San Luis Obispo and Contra Costa counties, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported.

AP

Prosecutors in Chandra Levy case fight six-month sanction bid by ethics enforcers

Two former federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., are contesting a disciplinary office's move to suspend their law licenses for six months following a preliminary finding of professional misconduct in the Chandra Levy murder case. Fernando Campoamor-Sánchez, now a lawyer at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and Amanda Haines, who recently retired from the practice of law, contend in new and previously unreported ethics filings that they adhered to their professional obligations in the prosecution of a man charged in Levy's 2001 death.

Reuters

Man to stand trial after SUV killed pedestrian and dog during police chase in Long Beach

A Northern California man who was allegedly being chased by police when he struck and killed a pedestrian and his dog in Long Beach was ordered today to stand trial on murder and other charges. Superior Court Judge Richard M. Goul found sufficient evidence to allow the case against Jyvante West, 28, of Richmond, to proceed to trial. West is charged with one count each of murder, animal cruelty, fleeing a pursuing peace officer's vehicle causing death, second-degree burglary and sale/transport of marijuana.

City News Service

Policy/Legal

Man convicted in LA County deputy's traffic death can sue police for fabricating report, judge says

A man convicted in the traffic death of a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy was given federal court permission this week to sue police for fabricating a report, but not the prosecutors who knew about it. U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton on Thursday dismissed from a civil rights lawsuit two prosecutors who have immunity, although they used the altered report to pursue murder charges against driver Cole Wilkins, who formerly lived in Long Beach but reportedly has moved to Arizona.

OC Register

LAPD officer says he's been relieved of duty, expects to be terminated for refusing vaccine mandate

Officer Michael McMahon, who maintains he is a 14-year veteran of the LAPD, said today in the video posted to social media that he had just been "relieved of duty" for refusing the city's vaccination mandate for all employees, including police. "I did just leave the captain's office a few minutes ago," said McMahon in a 4-plus minute video taken on what appeared to be a police rooftop parking lot with the downtown L.A. skyline in the background.

Deadline

LA vaccine mandate: Police chief vows to 'honor every exemption request' possible

In an internal video message sent to Los Angeles Police Department officers, Chief Michel Moore said he would give as many allowances as possible to those who've asked for religious or medical exemptions from getting the Covid-19 vaccine that's now required for all City employees. "My commitment is to honor every exemption request, every request for accommodation possible, with regards to this vaccine," Moore said in the video sent to officers last Friday and obtained by NBC4's I-Team.

NBC4

Fed-OSHA issues vaccine mandate - employers get choice

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has published its emergency temporary standard. It mandates employers with at least 100 employees to "develop, implement and enforce" a COVID-19 vaccine policy. Employers may choose between requiring all employees to be vaccinated or establishing a policy where employees undergo regular COVID testing and wear face coverings at work. There are separate rules for healthcare facilities.

Workers' Comp Executive

Former shoe shiner wins back nearly $30,000 seized by federal agents

When Kermit Warren lost his job shining shoes during the Covid-19 pandemic last year, he and his son took his life savings of nearly $30,000 to buy a tow truck to support Mr. Warren's longtime side business of collecting scrap metal. But after flying from New Orleans to Ohio to buy the truck, Mr. Warren and his son discovered that it was the wrong kind - it was designed for hauling heavy equipment, not scrap metal - so they returned home with $28,180 in cash in a pink gift bag.

New York Times

Supreme Court gun case would 'open the floodgates' to violence in NYC, top cop says

The US Supreme Court will "open the floodgates" to more violence in the Big Apple if it overturns a law that puts limits on carrying a concealed gun in public, NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea warned Sunday. The top cop spoke out about the closely watched case being considered by the nation's highest court - which signaled last week that it may side with gun advocates who want to expand the ability to legally carry concealed weapons in New York.

New York Post

School safety officer charged with murder wasn't a cop. Does that matter?

The arrest of a former school safety officer on a murder charge in California has added a new dimension to the debate over school-based policing a year after George Floyd's death prompted some districts to pull cops from campuses. This time, the conversation has centered on an armed Long Beach Unified School District safety officer accused of fatally shooting an unarmed 18-year-old girl as she fled in a car near the high school where he worked.

The 74's

Los Angeles County/City

LAPD warn residents of new crime trend: 'Follow home robberies'

Authorities released a community alert for Los Angeles residents, warning of an ongoing crime trend called "follow-home robberies." The Los Angeles Police Department listed districts such as Melrose and the Jewelry District as well as nightclubs and high-end restaurants as places where these crimes have occurred. In Melrose, there has been a rash of robberies in the past few months from employees being held at gunpoint to diners being robbed as they eat, with even one victim being shot to death outside of a shoe store.

CBS LA

LA City Council committee advances motion on arming park rangers

A three-person Los Angeles City Council committee today advanced a controversial motion by Councilman and committee member Joe Buscaino aimed at allowing on-duty park rangers to carry firearms. The Arts, Parks, Health, Education and Neighborhoods Committee advanced the motion with a 2-1 vote, with Buscaino and the committee's chair, Councilman John Lee, voting in favor of advancing the motion, while Councilman Mike Bonin dissented.

City News Service

Vehicle dwellers along Pacific Coast Highway sue LA county over nighttime parking bans

A class action lawsuit filed Monday on behalf of homeless individuals who live in their cars along the Pacific Coast Highway challenges parking restrictions that force them to move their vehicles across the street in the middle of the night. The suit filed against the LA County Board of Supervisors, Sheriff Alex Villanueva, and various unknown sheriff's deputies includes as a plaintiff one partially named individual, "D. Kinney," who represents a putative class of "thousands" of homeless people who sleep in their vehicles along the highway, also known California State Route 1, which runs adjacent to the coastline.

Courthouse News Service

Civil rights violations alleged in suit against LA County and sheriff

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva is being sued for his alleged support of deputies who use excessive force and commit civil rights violations, according to court papers obtained Monday. The lawsuit filed Friday in Los Angeles federal court alleges Villanueva has created an atmosphere within the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department where civil rights violations are not only approved, but encouraged.

MyNewsLA

LA County asks for Vanessa Bryant's therapy records in crash photos lawsuit

Attorneys for Los Angeles County are asking that a federal judge order the production of Vanessa Bryant's therapy records, which they believe are central to her lawsuit alleging emotional distress caused by the circulation of photos of the Kobe Bryant helicopter crash among sheriff's deputies and others, according to court papers obtained today.

City News Service

LAPD ended predictive policing programs amid public outcry. A new effort shares many of their flaws

The Los Angeles police department has been a pioneer in predictive policing, for years touting avant-garde programs that use historical data and software to predict future crime. But newly revealed public documents detail how PredPol and Operation Laser, the department's flagship data-driven programs, validated existing patterns of policing and reinforced decisions to patrol certain people and neighborhoods over others, leading to the over-policing of Black and brown communities in the metropole.

The Guardian

Grant gives L.A. County additional tool to reduce DUI recidivism rates

The Los Angeles County Probation Department received additional funds for a probation monitoring program for people convicted of driving under the influence. The $370,000.00 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) will go toward check-ins with individuals on probation supervision to make sure they are following court-ordered terms of their probation.

County of Los Angeles Probation Department Press Release

Los Angeles casino agrees to pay $500,000 settlement and submit to increased review of anti-money laundering compliance program

To resolve an investigation into alleged violations of the anti-money laundering provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), the partnership that operates the Bicycle Hotel & Casino in Bell Gardens has agreed to pay $500,000 and undergo enhanced review and reporting requirements designed to prevent future violations of federal law.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement News Release

Crime/Public Safety

Arresting the recruitment crisis

In September 2019, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) claimed that American policing was undergoing a workforce crisis. The crisis gained attention last year, following the police killing of George Floyd and the ensuing civil unrest. Over the past 15 months, police executives across the U.S. have been vocal about an increased rate of officer retirements and voluntary resignations, with many claiming that last summer's events worsened the problem.

City Journal

Los Angeles County hate crime reports increased 20% in 2020

The number of hate crimes reported last year in Los Angeles County was the highest in 12 years, led by a spike in racial crimes, the county Commission on Human Relations said Wednesday in an annual report. The total of 635 hate crimes reported in 2020 was a 20% increase over the previous year, and 61% were racist crimes, the report said. African Americans, who are just 9% of the county population, accounted for 42% of racial crime victims, according to the report. A total of 169 anti-Black crimes were reported, an increase of 35%.

AP

Suspect wanted for attempted murder of police office

Sheriff's homicide detectives Tuesday are searching for a person of interest they believe is connected to the attempted murder of a police officer in the Angeles National Forest. Juan Carlos Vazquez, 38, is considered to be armed and dangerous, said Deputy Tracy Koerner of the Los Angeles County Sheriffs' Department's Information Bureau. The attempted murder took place at 3:55 a.m. Monday on Little Tujunga Canyon Road, Koerner said.

MyNewsLA

Stolen cars located in shipping containers

Car theft has been a growing problem in the United States. Many who have been victimized have wondered why their car just seemingly disappears. A new report from CNBC highlights one possibility: many stolen cars are shipped out of the country. The Port of New York and New Jersey are popular destinations for these hot rides, which are loaded into shipping containers and transported by boat to other countries where they're sold for good money.

Motorious

LAPD posts video of robbers breaking in to Dorit Kemsley's home

The Los Angeles Police Department has released video taken from security cameras outside PK & Dorit Kemsley's home in Encino Hills, the night that three men broke in. On Wednesday, October 27, 2021, armed men entered the home while the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" star was there with her two small children. A source told the Daily Mail that Dorit was "held at gunpoint" as her children slept in their bedrooms around 11 p.m. local time.

Heavy

Four Southland men among 34 arrested in SB County marijuana busts

Four Los Angeles County men were arrested or cited during a seven-day marijuana enforcement operation in San Bernardino County that netted 34 arrests in all, authorities said Saturday. The operation was dubbed "Operation Hammer Strike" and was carried out between Nov. 1 and Nov. 7. Investigators from the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department's Marijuana Enforcement Team, along with deputies from several stations, served 26 search warrants in Lucerne Valley, San Bernardino, Twentynine Palms, Wonder Valley, Helendale, Newberry Springs, Pinon Hills, Phelan, Daggett, Barstow, and Rancho Cucamonga, the department reported.

CBS LA

SF theft wave of high-end bikes vexes non-violent crime enforcement reforms

The theft ring aimed at expensive bicycles is far more sophisticated than a standard Walgreens shoplifter, creating new wrinkles for criminal justice defenders who do not want to imprison nonviolent criminals. At first glance, today's chronicle story two suspected high-end bicycle thieves apparently made for the recall chess boudin movement: both suspects have extensive robbery wrap sheets (7 and 13 arrested, respectively), both not being imprisoned on probation, Both were arrested at Seventh and Market.

SFist

California/National

San Francisco certifies recall election for progressive DA Chesa Boudin

One of the nation's most progressive prosecutors will face a recall election in June after a petition was certified Tuesday in a city sharply divided over criminal justice reform and public safety. City election officials verified that a campaign to oust progressive district attorney Chesa Boudin garnered enough signatures to qualify for the ballot. Campaign organizers submitted 83,000 signatures - 32,000 more than needed - in October.

Courthouse News Service

Mayor-elect Adams vows to rehire plainclothes cops despite BLM leader's 'riot' threat: 'That was grandstanding'

Mayor-elect Eric Adams vowed Thursday to reinstate the NYPD's controversial plainclothes cop units even though a prominent leader of the city's Black Lives Matter movement told him "riots" and "bloodshed" will ensue in the streets if he follows through. Adams - who met with the BLM leader, Hawk Newsome, and other activists in Brooklyn on Wednesday - dismissed Newsome's threat as toothless and said it holds no bearing on his plan to reintroduce the plainclothes units once he takes office.

New York Daily News

Activists leak 600 hours of mostly Dallas police helicopter footage after city's 22 terabyte loss of criminal case data

Data transparency activists released a massive 600-hour leak of mostly Dallas Police Department helicopter footage, raising more questions about the city's data security protocols three months after DPD admitted to a 22-terabyte deletion of case data that resulted in the release of criminal defendants awaiting trial. Distributed Denial of Secrets - a WikiLeaks-like group known as DDoSecrets - posted over 1.8 terabytes of police helicopter footage on the group's website late Friday.

Courthouse News Service

San Bernardino County Public Defender's Office accused of 'Animal House frat party sex atmosphere'

Four employees are taking San Bernardino County's public defender's office to court over allegations of sexual misconduct. The claim filed by four employees against the San Bernardino County Public Defender's Office is extensive and disturbing. If true, it amounts to a culture of sexual harassment that is long-standing and has been seemingly ignored by law enforcement agencies that were supposedly being reported to.

Fox11

Sheriff's deputies recorded jail conversations between inmates and their lawyers

The San Diego County Sheriff's Department recorded dozens of privileged conversations between defense attorneys and their clients for much of the last year and, in at least one case, the recording found its way to the district attorney's office. Officials say recordings were inadvertent, but at least one went to county prosecutors. The confidential meetings between lawyers and criminal defendants were recorded between last December and May, and again between August and October, as the Sheriff's Department implemented protocols aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 inside its jails.

Los Angeles Times

Trump 'throws sand' in gears of Capitol attack inquiry amid legal setbacks

Donald Trump has suffered a series of legal setbacks and more loom, as he wages a court battle to thwart a House committee from obtaining White House records for its inquiry into the 6 January Capitol assault and a new grand jury begins hearing evidence about possible crimes by his real estate firm. Former justice officials and legal scholars say Trump's long-standing penchant for using lawsuits to fend off investigations and opponents is looking weaker now that he's out of the White House and facing legal threats on multiple fronts.

The Guardian

Consumer

Amazon's new Counterfeit Crimes Unit reports on first year

Amazon's newly formed Counterfeit Crimes Unit (CCU) published its first-year report and policy paper, full of self-congratulatory and sanctimonious claims. While business representatives continue to harshly criticize the online juggernaut, Amazon deflects its nefarious behavior and poor counterfeit enforcement performance by calling for more effective action by authorities and businesses.

The Counterfeit Report

Scam warning: Amazon delivery fraud targets 1million households - how to avoid 'brushing'

Experts are warning that third party sellers are taking advantage of Amazon's search ranking system for products to scam innocent consumers. "Brushing" is a scam carried out by Amazon sellers to artificially inflate their sales and positive reviews, with many involved being from China. The system used by Amazon favors items with a high volume of sales and good reviews from consumers.

The Toys Matrix

Yeezy brand to pay $950,000 over alleged shipping delays: L.A. County DA

The Yeezy clothing brand founded by rapper Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, has settled a lawsuit over alleged shipping delays, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office announced Monday. Yeezy Apparel LLC and Yeezy LLC, which are headquartered in La Palma, will pay $950,000 to settle a civil lawsuit alleging the online sneaker and clothing company engaged in unlawful business practices and false advertising by failing to ship items in a timely manner, the DA's office said in a news release.

KTLA

Convictions/Sentences/Pleas

Man convicted of killing Riverside detective resentenced to death

A man convicted of killing a Riverside police detective more than 20 years ago was sentenced to death for the second time on Friday, Nov. 5, the Riverside County District Attorney's Office said. Steve Woodruff, 58, was initially convicted of murdering Detective Doug Jacobs and sentenced to death in 2003. Then, in 2018, the state Supreme Court affirmed Woodruff's guilt but overturned his penalty because justices said a prospective juror was improperly dismissed.

Long Beach Press-Telegram

Man who punched Capitol police officer gets longest sentence yet tied to riot

The first Capitol rioter to be sentenced for assaulting a police officer received 41 months in prison on Wednesday - the heftiest sentence a federal judge has given out to a Capitol rioter so far and a precedent-setting sentence for all future Jan. 6 defendants convicted of assault. Scott Kevin Fairlamb, a New Jersey gym owner and mixed martial artist who punched a police officer in the face during the insurrection, has already served 11 months in the Washington jail where he has been held since his arrest.

Courthouse News Service

Mac Miller death: Man will plead guilty to fentanyl charge linked to rapper's overdose

A man has agreed to plead guilty in Los Angeles to a federal criminal charge for supplying counterfeit pharmaceutical pills containing fentanyl to the drug dealer accused of selling them to rapper Mac Miller, who then suffered a fatal overdose, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Wednesday. Ryan Reavis, 38, formerly of West Los Angeles, who moved to Lake Havasu, Arizona, in 2019, will formally enter his plea to a single federal count of distribution of fentanyl on a date to be scheduled, according to the DOJ.

City News Service

Bay Area man sentenced to 30 years in billion-dollar generator Ponzi scheme

The owner of the now-defunct DC Solar, who sold mobile solar generators that didn't exist and fleeced investors out of about $1 billion, was sentenced to 30 years Tuesday for orchestrating the Ponzi scheme. The scam's ringleader, Jeff Carpoff, 50, was sentenced to 30 years by U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez of the Eastern District of California. Carpoff's wife, Paulette, 47, and a number of their associates are also due to be sentenced soon, each facing between five and 15 years in prison.

Courthouse News Service

Corrections & Parole

Parole recommended for Manson follower Leslie Van Houten

A California parole panel on Tuesday recommended for the fifth time that Charles Manson follower Leslie Van Houten be freed from prison, decisions previously rejected by two governors. Van Houten, 72, is serving a life sentence for helping Manson and other cult members kill Los Angeles grocer Leno LaBianca and his wife, Rosemary, in August 1969. She was 19 when she and other followers fatally stabbed the LaBiancas and smeared their blood on the walls. The slayings came the day after other Manson followers, but not Van Houten, killed pregnant actress Sharon Tate and four others.

AP

They were supposed to die in prison. Instead they earned freedom as college graduates

The 25 graduates marched to the middle of the prison yard. A recording of "Pomp and Circumstance" played but was drowned out by cheers. Dozens of mothers, fathers, friends and professors sat in the blazing sun looking toward a stage set up on the basketball court, just beyond a blue mural that said "Forgive." One woman beamed and teared up at the sight of her grandson dressed in a cap and gown. Allen Burnett, dressed in a white button-down shirt and black pants, sat among the crowd and watched the men at California State Prison in Lancaster take their seats.

Los Angeles Times

Articles of Interest

Pictures reveal what 'jet pack man' in sky near LAX might be - and it's not what you'd expect

Authorities investigating a series of possible jetpack sightings over Los Angeles believe they may have identified an explanation for the mysterious reports - one that requires no fuel, no engines, and no high-flying technology. "One working theory is that pilots might have seen balloons," the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Federal Aviation Administration said in statements, after NBC Los Angeles obtained police video and photos that appear to show a human-shaped inflatable toy floating thousands of feet above Beverly Hills.

NBC4

Cellphone video play-by-play puts kibosh on Charles Oakley's MSG assault claims

Madison Square Garden security exercised a reasonable degree of force when they showed former Knicks star Charles Oakley the exit at a 2017 game, a federal judge ruled Monday, tossing out Oakley's remaining civil claims against the iconic Manhattan arena based on what he called "extensive video footage" of the incident.

Courthouse News Service

Poll: Overwhelming majority say cancel culture has gone too far

An overwhelming majority of voters said cancel culture has gone too far, a new Hill-HarrisX poll finds. Seventy-one percent of registered voters said they strongly or somewhat believe that cancel culture has gone too far. By contrast, 29 percent of respondents said they believe a little or not at all. The Hill-HarrisX poll used the Merriam-Webster definition to define cancel culture: Cancel culture is defined as "the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure."

The Hill

Truck driver lobbies Arizona appeals court for return of seized $39,500

In August 2020, North Carolina trucking company owner Jerry Johnson flew into Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix with $39,500 cash, some in a carry-on bag and some in a checked suitcase. Johnson planned to use the money to buy a truck for his booming business back home, he said, but police had a different idea. Claiming Johnson was moving cash for drug dealers, police seized it. And although no one was ever charged in the case, the police kept the money, citing a "preponderance of evidence" that it was not his money but was instead the product of racketeering.

Courthouse News Service

RAND Study: Unhoused veterans services need to be tailored

A year-long study of a group of military veterans experiencing homelessness in West Los Angeles found that few were able to obtain permanent housing over the course of the period, even though they lived near the region's major VA service center. The project led by researchers from the nonprofit RAND Corporation and the University of Southern California found that although the veterans wanted to get off the streets, the housing options available to them frequently did not meet their desire for autonomy, safety, security and privacy.

Yo! Venice

Pensions

California police officer fired over sex crime fights CalPERS to keep disability pension

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Rand study shows few homeless veterans are able to obtain the kind of housing they want; meanwhile, the LA County Sheriff and VA managed to move those in the encampment on San Vicente Boulevard into housing.

A former California police officer fired after being charged with unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor is fighting CalPERS to keep his industrial disability pension. The California Public Employees Retirement System has sought to deny the pension on the grounds that he was removed from his job due to criminal misconduct. The CalPERS Board of Administration will take up up the matter when it meets on Nov. 17.

Merced Sun-Star

Biden administration blocks billions in California transit money, citing pension law

The U.S. Labor Department determined California is ineligible for federal money for public transit, putting in jeopardy about $12 billion in grants including a portion of the infrastructure spending Congress approved last week. The Labor Department's determination targeted a 2013 state pension law that the department said eroded public transit employees' rights to negotiate over their pay and benefits.

Sacramento Bee

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