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

SJ Homicide Suspect Released Without Bail; LB Police Chief Makes Bid for LA Sheriff by Claiming He'll Fire Unvaxxed; Suspect in Avant Shooting Caught in Someone Else's Backyard

Teenage "thrill killer" of 2009 to be released; School districts liable for teacher sexual misconduct; Man who attempted to hack his family released to "mental health diversion" program

 

December 13, 2021

Facebook

Two plead guilty for their roles in rapper Mac Miller's overdose death

Courts & Rulings

'Inventory search' of lawfully parked car was pretextual

The exploration by sheriff's deputies of the content of an automobile, in the absence of a warrant, cannot be justified as an inventory search incident pursuant to an impounding of the vehicle being driven by an unlicensed driver where that vehicle was in a public parking lot, the Third District Court of Appeal has held. Acting Presiding Justice Coleman Blease wrote the opinion, filed Wednesday and not certified for publication.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Falsified police reports can be used to impeach officers testifying in unrelated cases, justices rule

An appeals court ruled this week that crime reports falsified by law enforcement officers can be used to impeach the officers' credibility in unrelated criminal cases. A three-member panel of the Fourth District Court of Appeal on Tuesday moved an Orange County Superior Court judge off a criminal case for refusing to allow falsified police reports to be presented as evidence of lying.

Orange County Register

Ninth Circuit puts brakes on vaccine mandates for San Diego students, California prison guards

In a pair of rulings issued over Thanksgiving weekend, the Ninth Circuit blocked two vaccine mandates, one covering San Diego public school students, the other covering California prison guards. A three-judge panel temporarily blocked the San Diego Unified School District's student vaccine mandate, for as long as the district offers exceptions for pregnant students. The panel's 2-page order said a full explanation of their decision would be issued later.

Courthouse News Service

Biden suffers string of court setbacks as administration's vaccine mandates are put on hold

The Biden administration has suffered three major court losses since Monday morning, with orders freezing key federal government Covid-19 vaccine rules in certain parts of the country and, in one case, nationwide. The latest blow came from a federal judge in Louisiana, whose order Tuesday afternoon halted across the country the administration's mandate requiring that certain health care workers be vaccinated.

CNN

Ninth Circuit tosses religious freedom case brought by Northwest tribal members

The Ninth Circuit dismissed a case from Northwest tribal leaders Wednesday, based on the government's claim that no one knows what happened to the stones from a millennia-old altar after the government removed them a decade ago. The Ninth Circuit dismissed the case as moot, siding with the government's claim that there's nothing it can do now about the religious site it already destroyed.

Courthouse News Service

Court upholds California ban on high-capacity magazines

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a ruling by two of its judges and upheld California's ban on high-capacity magazines Tuesday in a split decision that may be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. "The statute outlaws no weapon, but only limits the size of the magazine that may be used with firearms," the court said in the 7-4 ruling.

AP

Former teen 'thrill killer' must be freed from prison: Judge

A former teenage "thrill killer" who murdered a San Jose classmate must be set free under a new law, though his release will be stayed until at least December, a Santa Clara County judge ruled Tuesday. The murder of 15-year-old Michael Russell at the hands of his classmates sent shockwaves through the community in 2009, and this week's ruling freeing his killer is likely to do the same.

Palo Alto Patch

Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor announces Online Dispute Resolution Program

Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor today announced the launch of Unlawful Detainer Online Dispute Resolution (UD ODR) to enable parties in Unlawful Detainer (housing and eviction) cases in Los Angeles County to resolve their disputes online, for free and without direct Court intervention. UD ODR is voluntary and available to all parties and attorneys-of-record in housing cases. UD-ODR uses TurboCourt, an online dispute resolution platform built by Intresys, Inc., a vendor that focuses on eGovernment technology solutions for judicial clients.

LA Court News Release

Federal judge blocks Biden vaccine mandate for health care workers in 10 states

A judge blocked the federal government on Monday from mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for health care workers in ten states. U.S. District Judge Matthew Schelp in the Eastern District of Missouri wrote in his ruling that regulations handed down by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid earlier this month were issued improperly. The agency did not get approval from Congress to mandate vaccinations for health care workers, Schelp wrote, which he argued was necessary given the mandate's "vast economic and political significance."

Springfield News-Leader

Current lawmaker rare appointee among 12 California judges

Gov. Gavin Newsom took the rare step of appointing a sitting California state lawmaker to one of 12 judgeships Monday, triggering a special election for the Los Angeles County seat. Assemblyman Ed Chau, a Democrat from Monterey Park, will fill the vacancy created by the retirement of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry. Chau, 64, has represented the San Gabriel Valley's 49th Assembly District since his election in 2012.

AP

Federal report in Texas knocks out central defense by clerks fighting First Amendment

A federal magistrate in Texas on Monday knocked down a defensive wall that state court clerks have been hiding behind while they resist the First Amendment right of access. The report issued by Magistrate Susan Hightower came in the context of the local court clerk's motion to dismiss a complaint attacking her blackout of new complaints for one to three days while they are entered into the docket.

Courthouse News Service

Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor announces receipt of $9.2 Million in funding from Chief Justice's Early Disposition Program to address criminal case backlogs and reduce delays

The Superior Court of Los Angeles County will receive $9.2 million in funding from the first phase of Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye's Early Disposition Program (EDP) under an allocation plan approved by the Judicial Council of California, Presiding Judge Eric C. Taylor announced today.

LA Court News Release

C.A. takes expansive view of school district's liability

A school district might be liable for the sexual abuse of a student by a teacher even if it was oblivious to any dangers posed by that employee, the Court of Appeal for this district has held."We conclude, consistent with California negligence law, that school administrators have a duty to protect students from sexual abuse by school employees, even if the school does not have actual knowledge of a particular employee's history of committing, or propensity to commit, such abuse," Justice John L. Segal of Div. Seven said in an opinion filed Tuesday.

Metropolitan News-Enterprise

Appeals court orders release of some Mueller report passages

A federal appeals court on Tuesday directed the Justice Department to disclose certain redacted passages from special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation report that relate to individuals who were investigated by prosecutors but not ultimately charged. The ruling came in a public records complaint from the news organization BuzzFeed, which sued for an unredacted version of Mueller's report examining Russian election interference and possible ties to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign.

AP

Los Angeles District Attorney

Eric Siddall on the John & Ken Show December 3, 2021 (Audio)

Eric Siddall of the Association of Deputy District Attorneys appears on the John & Ken show to discuss George Gascón and smash and grabs.

ADDA

LA's "Recall George Gascon" effort (torpedoed by scoreless GOP consultants) want a 2nd round but where did the money go?

In LA politics, is $300,000 a lot of money? As a fiduciary for the community and event organizer, I know what that amount would accomplish and how it should not be dismissed. $300k is the amount that was claimed to be transferred from Round 1 "leaders" of the Recall George Gascon effort to Round 2. Suddenly that's not the case, based on the latest financial statements, and the impetus of this article.

The Published Reporter

Prosecutors

Man charged with killing his four children, their grandmother

A Lancaster man was charged Tuesday with murdering his four children - who were between 1 and 11 years old - and their 51-year-old grandmother. Germarcus Lamar David, 29, was set to be arraigned Tuesday in a Lancaster courtroom on five counts of murder and three counts of assault on a child causing death in connection with Sunday's attack in the 3500 block of Garnet Lane at the family's home in Lancaster, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

MyNewsLA

Prosecute shoplifters under existing laws, governor says

Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday in no uncertain terms that he thinks shoplifters should be prosecuted under existing California laws, as he called out local officials whom he said have been reluctant to do so. He was responding to a recent run of large-scale thefts in California and across the nation in which groups of individuals shoplift en masse from stores or smash and grab from display cases. Single operators have also been a growing problems for retailers who say the thieves face little consequence.

AP

Ex-L.A. special counsel agrees to plead guilty to accepting nearly $2.2 million kickback for arranging collusive lawsuit against LADWP

A New York City lawyer, who simultaneously represented the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and a ratepayer suing it in the wake of the department's billing debacle, has agreed to plead guilty to a bribery charge for accepting an illegal payment of nearly $2.2 million for getting another attorney to purportedly represent his ratepayer client in a collusive lawsuit against LADWP, the Justice Department announced today.

Department of Justice Press Release

How the theft of 44 firearms from an L.A. gun store exploded into an LAPD scandal

Before it all came crashing down, Archi Duenas' gun-stealing scheme was relatively simple, county prosecutors wrote in a memo. He just couldn't go on vacation. Duenas, manager of the gun store at the Los Angeles Police Academy, had been reprimanded over the years for tardiness and sloppy record keeping, but he never took time off, according to the memo. As the store's closing supervisor, he was there each night to lock up - and hand count the inventory.

Los Angeles Times

Murder charge in Arizona against California lawyer dismissed

A murder charge has been dismissed for a California divorce lawyer in the suburban Phoenix shooting death of his stepdaughter's husband nearly 11 years ago. Prosecutors cited the "interest of justice" as their reason for seeking the dismissal of the murder charge against Robert Fischer, whose jury conviction was overturned by a judge in the December 2010 death of 49-year-old Norman "Lee" Radder.

AP

Prosecutors ask US Supreme Court to revive case against Bill Cosby, months after his conviction was overturned

Prosecutors asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling that overturned Bill Cosby's conviction, arguing in a petition Monday that a decision announced in a press release does not give a defendant lifetime immunity. Prosecutors said the ruling could set a dangerous precedent if convictions are overturned over dubious closed-door deals.

AP

Jussie Smollett 'attacker' takes the stand, lays out actor's plot to stage hate crime

Abimbola Osundairo, one of two brothers accused of conspiring with former Empire star Jussie Smollett to stage a racist and homophobic attack against him in 2019, took the stand in the actor's criminal trial Wednesday, laying out Smollett's alleged plan for jurors. Abimbola Osundairo and his older brother Olabinjo Osundairo are key witnesses in the case against Smollett, because they were the ones that carried out the attack on him, and then exposed the alleged conspiracy after detectives identified them as suspects.

National Review

Policy/Legal

District Attorney lashes back against Governor: "Either he's ignorant... or he's a liar"

The law enforcement community is fired up after comments Governor Gavin Newsom made about crime in California Wednesday. The Governor talked about Proposition 47. That law changed certain felonies to misdemeanors. From the police perspective, it runs in tandem with Proposition 57, which reduced prison sentences, and AB-109, which shifted people from state prison to local jails. Governor Newsom says those laws reduced crime, particularly property crimes.

Fox26 News Fresno

California increases disclosure required for charitable giving at elected officials' request

California's Fair Political Practices Commission recently adopted several regulations aimed at increasing disclosure related to charitable donations made at the request of elected officials - a practice known as "behested payments." Elected officials are currently required to report behested payments over $5,000 from a single source in a calendar year. The reports must disclose the name of the recipient charity, the name and address of the donor, and the date and amount of the payment.

JD Supra

More balanced approach needed to deal with addiction, crime

As a former police chief, I know our laws must evolve to serve our communities better. However, I am deeply concerned about the real-world impacts we are seeing due to a steady erosion of accountability. Just look at the drug overdose crisis unfolding. California set out on a mission to reduce penalties for many crimes and promote treatment as an alternative. A laudable goal, but the evidence shows this approach has not been successful.

CalMatters

Retail thefts ratchet up reformers' rhetoric

A series of seemingly orchestrated, stunningly brazen smash-and-grabs have hammered stores in the Bay Area and Los Angeles over the past few weeks, frightening retailers and putting elected officials on the defensive. A string of Thanksgiving weekend robberies in L.A. had authorities there on tactical alert, and Bay Area law enforcement fortified their presence outside shopping areas after people broke into several stores the prior weekend.

Politico

Firefighter reinstatement | City of South Pasadena delaying, haggling over court ordered payment

Nearly six months after the California Supreme Court put the kibosh on South Pasadena's five-year battle to defend its illegal termination of the president of its firefighters' union, the city is still haggling over the amount of compensation owed to fire engineer Owen Cliff Snider. In addition, the city took over two months to effectuate the final order from the state Personnel Employment Relations Board (PERB) for Snider's "immediate" reinstatement.

South Pasadenan

Crime could become hot issue in 2022

Periodically, California experiences an uptick in crime - or at least an increase in public consciousness and concern about crime - and it becomes a political issue. During the 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s, as crime rates and public fears were peaking, Republicans made big election gains by accusing Democratic rivals of being soft on crime. Republicans George Deukmejian and Pete Wilson rode the issue into the governorship, Republicans made substantial gains in the Legislature and it contributed greatly to three liberal Supreme Court justices being ousted by voters.

Daily Republic

Los Angeles County/City

LA County Sheriff: Department will shrink by 200-300 deputies due to budget cuts

Sheriff Alex Villanueva said his department may shrink by 200 to 300 deputies by March and blamed the shortfall on hiring restrictions imposed by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that were set in place to address recurring budget deficits. The sheriff made his prediction while responding to questions from followers during a live session on Facebook and Instagram Wednesday, Dec. 1.

Orange County Register

'The Mayor Knew': Eric Garcetti's top aide was a serial harasser, according to multiple accusers. The mayor, they say, ignored it.

When Eric Garcetti gave his State of the City address on April 14, 2016, it was an unofficial pitch for his reelection as mayor of Los Angeles. Garcetti, who had been in office for three years, stood on the production floor of an LED manufacturer, portending a literally bright future for a Democratic star whose name would soon be floated for a presidential run.

New York Magazine

Los Angeles County files motion to dismiss Vanessa Bryant photo leak lawsuit on grounds that crash site photos are 'gone' and 'cannot be recovered'

Attorneys representing Los Angeles County and members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Los Angeles County Fire Department filed a motion on Monday to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Kobe Bryant's widow Vanessa Bryant. In September of last year, Vanessa Bryant sued the LA Sheriff's Department, the fire department, the County, and eight individual officers, following reports that first responders took and shared photos of the gruesome crash site where Kobe her daughter Gianna "Gigi" Bryant, and seven others died in January 2020.

Insider

Can't cut overtime costs like it did during pandemic's peak, LA Sheriff's Department says

The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office has taken drastic steps to reduce overtime pay to address the multi-million dollar deficit of the last two fiscal years. However, the county reports that such reductions are not sustainable at last year's pace, given the increased crime and murder in the county and the similarities in life before COVID-19, officials said. Overtime cuts ($ 99.9 million total) have hit the sector's deficit by $ 50.8 million, yet surpassing government agencies' $ 129 million overtime budget.

Long Beach Press-Telegram

Aero Bureau can spell terror or be an angel from above

From a thousand feet in the air, pilots in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Aero squadron say they can determine someone's guilt or innocence based on how a possible subject on the ground responds to their search light shining on them. Deputy Ted Gomez, while piloting an LASD AS350 B2 on patrol over Lancaster, joked that the powerful search light on the helicopter is their "light of justice," an allusion to Wonder Woman's "Lasso of Truth" in the comic books.

The Signal

LBPD chief announces bid for county sheriff, says he will fire unvaccinated deputies

During a morning press conference at the park atop Signal Hill on Wednesday, retiring Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna officially announced he is running to be Los Angeles County's next sheriff. Luna was joined by about two dozen supporters, including Mayor Robert Garcia and State Sen. Lena Gonzalez, but a small group of protesters also attended. Four or five people from Black Lives Matter Long Beach frequently interrupted Luna's speech by shouting him down.

Long Beach Post

LAPD Chief Moore's security detail under investigation after incident in France

Two members of Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore's security detail are under investigation after detaining an individual in the streets of France during an overseas trip by LAPD commanders last month, police officials confirmed to The Times. The group had traveled abroad to meet with French counterparts about security preparations for the Summer Olympics, which are planned in Paris and other French cities in 2024 and in L.A. in 2028.

Los Angeles Times

Sheriff Villanueva: County COVID testing company passes info to Republic of China

Hews Media Group-Community News has obtained a letter from L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva to the L.A. County Board of Supervisors alleging that the COVID-19 registering and testing system contract with Fulgent Genetics Corporation is not safe from foreign government's intrusion and will likely "be shared with the government of China."

Hews Media Group

Los Angeles City Council bans possession, purchase, sale of ghost guns

The City Council Tuesday unanimously approved an ordinance to prohibit the possession, purchase, sale, receipt and transportation of "ghost guns" in Los Angeles. The ordinance was requested by a motion from Councilmen Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian, which also passed through the council unanimously. It will next go to Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose office said he would sign it.

City News Service

The confessions of a prolific serial killer have left LA detectives chasing ghosts

As Sam Little spilled details of the 93 murders he claimed to have committed across the U.S., the toll in Los Angeles mounted. In hundreds of hours of interviews with investigators, the former boxer admitted to killing dozens of women, almost all by strangulation, from 1970 to 2005 as he moved around the U.S. The scraps of detail he offered - a year, an intersection, a landmark - left the FBI and local police scrambling to fill in the blanks and corroborate his chilling confessions.

Los Angeles Times

Crime/Public Safety

Suspect arrested in shooting death of LA philanthropist Jacqueline Avant at Beverly Hills home

A 29-year-old man was arrested in connection with the shooting death of 81-year-old Los Angeles philanthropist Jacqueline Avant, the wife of famed music exec Clarence Avant, at the couple's Beverly Hills home. Police said Aariel Maynor had accidentally shot himself in the foot before he was arrested in the backyard of a Hollywood home about two hours after the shooting at the Avants' home.

NBC4 Los Angeles

California's zero-bail policy sets free 14 smash-grab robbery suspects, LAPD chief says

Los Angeles police recently arrested 14 suspects in connection with 11 "smash and grab" robberies in the city in late November - but all 14 suspects are back on the street, the city's police chief says. The reason? The state of California's "zero bail" policy, Chief Michel Moore told reporters at a Thursday evening news conference, according to FOX 11 of Los Angeles.

Fox News

Walnut Creek City Council to spend $2M in response to Nordstrom robbery

Walnut Creek will beef up its police presence by spending $2 million over 18 months to add five officers to a new downtown beat, adding security cameras to the area, and flying a tether drone over Broadway Plaza. At a special meeting Wednesday morning, the City Council unanimously voted to spend half of its remaining unallocated federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds on measures to prevent a repeat of the coordinated ransacking of Nordstrom on Nov. 20.

Bay City News

Police defunding efforts, lowered numbers of police officers partially to blame for recent retail robbery wave

The wave of group mob-style smash and grab robberies around the Golden State continued on in California over the Thanksgiving holiday period, resulting on the ramping up of police protection despite some departments facing strained resources following defunding efforts. Following the flash mob-inspired robberies of multiple high-end stores in San Francisco's Union Square, as well as a Nordstrom's in Walnut Creek late last week, other similar robberies continued to occur throughout the state.

California Globe

Best Buy hit by Black Friday shoplifting blitz; CEO says crime could drive workers out

Crowds of thieves struck at Best Buy stores in the Twin Cities on Friday, just days after the retailer's CEO warned that increased crime around the country could scare away employees. Minnesota Public Radio has a report on the thefts, which occurred Friday night at Best Buy stores in Burnsville and Maplewood. The Burnsville case reportedly involved 20 to 30 people, while about a dozen adults and juveniles struck the Maplewood store.

Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal

Police unions blame ACLU for rash of recent smash-and-grab robberies: 'Voters were lied to'

Police union leaders are blaming the ACLU for the recent smash-and-grab robberies that have plagued California ahead of holiday shopping season. "When society removes accountability for bad behavior, criminals get emboldened to commit more crimes, drug addicts thumb their noses at mandatory treatment and vandalism and petty theft turn into riotous looting and murder," President of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, Craig Lally, told Fox News.

Fox News

The GOP is blaming coordinated retail thefts on 7-year-old Prop. 47

Allegedly coordinated on social media, last weekend's wave of smash-and-grabs at high-end retail stores set the Bay Area on edge. But what officials describe as organized retail crime sprees aren't the only orchestrated attacks taking place. GOP politicians opened up the opportunist playbook and started their favorite attack: California is under siege and the left is to blame, partly because of Proposition 47, which voters approved in 2014.

San Francisco Chronicle

Police search landfill north of Los Angeles in disappearance of West LA mother Heidi Planck

Detectives began at dawn Monday to search a landfill in northern Los Angeles County for evidence in the disappearance of Heidi Planck, a mother who lived in West LA and vanished after attending one of her son's football games in mid-October. The LAPD said in a statement that it appears Planck died at an apartment building in downtown LA in an 'incident,' and forensic evidence found at that building led to the landfill search.

NBC4

Consumer

Warning issued for millions of Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 11 users

Early this month a botched security patch left every version of Windows exposed to a zero-day hack. Now millions of Windows users need to be on high alert once more, because it has happened again. The new vulnerability, which is already being exploited by hackers, was publicly disclosed by security researcher Abdelhamid Naceri.

Forbes

California/National

There's a backlash brewing against bail reform after the parade tragedy in Waukesha

Darrell E. Brooks, Jr., has become the poster boy for the backlash against bail reform. The 39-year-old faces at least six counts of homicide for allegedly driving his maroon Ford Escape through a holiday parade in Waukesha, Wisc. on Sunday evening - only two weeks after being released on $1,000 cash bail for another act of vehicular aggression, in which he allegedly ran over a woman during an altercation.

NPR

Homicide suspect and accomplice's release widely criticized in South Bay

San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo says the criminal justice system has failed in a homicide case despite a state Supreme Court case that ruled defendants can't be held solely on the basis of whether or not they can afford to pay bail even if they're charged with a homicide - and in this case, the defendants are arguing self defense. Still, the mayor issued a statement Tuesday night condemning the Nov. 10 release of two homicide suspects without bail, the same day the police department criticized the move on social media causing a frenzy.

KTVU

Philadelphia breaks a homicide record thanks to the leadership of its progressive mayor and district attorney.

On November 26, the day after Thanksgiving, a young man was shot and killed in Philadelphia. The murder was typical: five shots, no witnesses, no arrest, no suspects. But for Philly, this was an especially significant homicide - the city's 501st murder for the year, its most ever. No demographic, social, or economic shift caused this spike in violence.

City Journal

Eric Adams promises to appoint tougher judges amid NYC bail-reform debate

Mayor-elect Eric Adams promised Wednesday that his judicial appointments overseeing criminal arraignments in the Big Apple will be far more willing to test the limits of the state's controversial bail reform laws. Adams made the promise during an appearance on "The View," where he was repeatedly pressed on recent high profile cases where repeat offenders were returned to communities only to be quickly rearrested after allegedly committing yet another crime.

New York Post

Conservative think tank sues California over forced diversity quotas on corporate boards

A conservative think tank is suing California to block a law that will force race, gender and sexual orientation quotas on corporate boards of publicly held companies located in the state. The suit, National Center for Public Policy Research v. Weber, was filed against California Secretary of State Shirley Weber Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California. The free market think tank argues that AB 979 perpetuates discrimination by treating people based on fixed characteristics rather than individual merits.

Just the News

Does the leak of stolen Dallas police helicopter video indicate a bigger hack? One group thinks so

Millions of pages of Dallas police files are deleted from servers and the cloud. It's an accident, we're told. Skepticism abounds. Then about 600 hours of video footage taken of crowds and individuals, mostly by Dallas police helicopters, are leaked on a website that distributes embarrassing information. Are these incidents related? Is this part of a ransomware attack that no one is telling the public about?

Dallas Morning News

California's execution moratorium raises question of reducing some of those sentences

California, with 697 inmates on the nation's largest Death Row, has not executed anyone since January 2006, and will not execute anyone under Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has declared a moratorium and dismantled the San Quentin death chamber. Now, a federal judge in the case of a Bay Area man who was sentenced to death almost 34 years ago says it's time for the state to face reality and consider reducing at least some death sentences to life in prison.

San Francisco Chronicle

Convictions/Sentences/Pleas

Gang member convicted in killing of Whittier police officer sentenced to life in prison

A gang member convicted of opening fire on two Whittier police officers, killing one and wounding the other, along with killing a man in East Los Angeles earlier the same morning, was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Michael Christopher Mejia, 30, was found guilty Sept. 1 of two counts of first-degree murder and one count each of attempted murder, carjacking and possession of a firearm by a felon.

City News Service

Capitol rioter's 2-month sentence is harsher than what prosecutors sought

A federal judge gave a 60-day prison sentence Monday to a man who chartered buses that brought 200 people to the Stop the Steal rally ahead of the Jan. 6 insurrection. Minutes before his sentence was read, Frank Scavo delivered a statement to the court in which he seemed to downplay his participation in the riot. The Pennsylvania man spent about eight minutes inside the Capitol but said he only needed two before doubts began to surface.

Courthouse News Service

Former South Bay executive sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison for insider trading and securities fraud

A former executive at a Hawthorne-based company was sentenced today to 35 months in federal prison for trading in options contracts using inside company information and illegally purchasing shares of a company his employer had targeted for acquisition. Mark A. Loman, 60, of Hermosa Beach, was sentenced by United States District Judge Dale S. Fischer, who said Loman had "betrayed his employer and the market" and had been motivated by greed.

Department of Justice Press Release

Two men plead guilty in LA for roles in Mac Miller's fatal overdose

Two of three men charged with supplying the fentanyl-laced pills that led to rapper Mac Miller's fatal overdose pleaded guilty Tuesday in Los Angeles to a federal drug distribution charge. Stephen Walter, 48, of Westwood, and Ryan Reavis, 38, formerly of West Los Angeles, entered their pleas during separate Zoom hearings to a count of distribution of fentanyl, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

MyNewsLA

Corrections & Parole

California prisons now limiting medical parole to only those on ventilators

A new California policy could send dozens of quadriplegic, paraplegic or otherwise permanently incapacitated inmates from nursing homes back to state prisons. Prison officials say a change in federal rules led them to limit medical parole to inmates so ill they are hooked to ventilators to breathe, meaning their movement is so limited they are not a public danger. The state previously included a much broader range of permanent incapacities allowing inmates to be cared for in nursing homes outside prison walls.

AP

Redding man who attacked family with splitting maul released on "mental health diversion"

A former Shasta County public defender who attacked his family with a wood-splitting maul two years ago has been released from jail for a "mental health diversion." Theodore Loos, 75, who attacked his wife and two children in July 2019, was released from jail last month on "specific terms and conditions that he is required to abide by and his treatment plan," according to the Shasta County District Attorney's Office.

Redding Record Searchlight

Pomona parolee sentenced to nearly three years in federal prison for stealing Humvee from Army Reserve Center in Upland

A Pomona man was sentenced today to 34 months in federal prison for stealing a military Humvee from the Army Reserve Center in Upland and then briefly leading police on a chase through a neighborhood. Armando Garcia, 30, was sentenced by United States District Judge John A. Kronstadt. Garcia pleaded guilty on August 19 to one count of theft of government property.

Department of Justice

Articles of Interest

Buyer's remorse: Five California laws that have come back to bite them

California has a propensity for starting trends that sweep through the rest of the nation, whether it was the hippie era in the '60s, high tech in the '90s, or a host of environmental regulations in the 2000s, to name a few. Politicians have run this fifth-largest economy in the world as a test case for radicalism, enacting some laws that turned out to be a disaster. Here are the top five.

Washington Examiner

CNN suspends Chris Cuomo after probe shows he advised ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo

CNN suspended host Chris Cuomo on Tuesday after an investigation by the New York attorney general showed that he helped his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, defend himself against sexual misconduct allegations. The investigation by Attorney General Letitia James raised "serious questions" about Cuomo's conduct, the network said in a statement.

NBC News

Can former Scientologists take the church to court? Or are religious tribunals the only recourse?

Danny Masterson's case has refocused attention on religious arbitration, in which disputes are settled outside of courts, with little or no public scrutiny. The Times' series on Scientology ran in 1990 and gave a rare look at the church's beliefs, practices and history. Luis Garcia, 63, an Irvine resident and self-employed businessman, sued the church for fraud after he said he donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the organization over his 28 years as a member.

Los Angeles Times

Former Pentagon chief sues to publish material in memoir

Former Defense Secretary Mark Esper claims in a lawsuit against the Defense Department that material is being improperly withheld from his use as he seeks to publish an "unvarnished and candid memoir" of his time in President Donald Trump's Cabinet. The lawsuit, which was filed Sunday in U.S. District Court in Washington, describes the memoir, "A Sacred Oath," as an account of Esper's tenure as Army secretary from 2017 to 2019 and his 18 months as defense secretary, which ended when Trump fired him in a tweet just days after the president lost his reelection bid.

AP

Walmart said she shoplifted; jury awards her $2.1 million

An Alabama woman who says she was falsely arrested for shoplifting at a Walmart and then threatened by the company after her case was dismissed has been awarded $2.1 million in damages. A Mobile County jury on Monday ruled in favor of Lesleigh Nurse of Semmes, news outlets reported. Nurse said in a lawsuit that she was stopped in November 2016 when trying to leave a Walmart with groceries she said she already paid for, according to AL.com.

AP

Pensions

CalPERS says these 5 retirees broke pension rules with part-time jobs. What did they do wrong?

The California Employee's Retirement System cites dozens of retirees each year for violating a law that limits employment after stopping work and collecting a pension. But the pension system has almost exclusively gone after individual employees who seek out post retirement jobs. In 2017, the California Public Employees' Retirement System began a new effort: examining retirees who were placed by a third party company, Regional Government Services Authority, in consultant jobs at at California local governments affiliated with CalPERS.

Sacramento Bee

Cities seek changes to disability pension laws as cops quit in droves

Calling the current situation "fiscally unsustainable," Minnesota cities will seek help from the state in covering costs of the skyrocketing number of police officers retiring due to post-traumatic stress and seeking workers' compensation benefits. The League of Minnesota Cities plans to push again in the next legislative session for a bill that would fully reimburse cities for the cost of insurance for police officers and firefighters on disability pensions, according to Anne Finn, a lobbyist for the group.

Minnesota Reformer

Former California union official filed $44,000 worth of fraudulent time sheets, CalPERS says

A former SEIU Local 1000 official was suspended from his CalPERS IT job without pay for six months after the pension system determined he didn't do any work while claiming he was on a coronavirus contact tracing assignment, according to a disciplinary notice. Tony Owens, who was elected vice president of bargaining in 2018 and campaigned unsuccessfully for the state government union presidency early this year, submitted about $44,000 worth of fraudulent time sheets in the second half of 2020, according to a notice of adverse action CalPERS issued in June.

Sacramento Bee

CalPERS using leverage, alts to hit return target

Wells Fargo

Publicly held companies in California, like Wells Fargo, who pictures their executive board with this stock photo (all white), will have to show diversity in the makeup of their BOD

CalPERS reached a new milestone on the road to fulfilling its last CIO's vision of leveraging the $495.3 billion pension plan and investing the capital in alternative investments. The board of the California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, has been making a series of small changes that culminated in a new asset allocation on Nov. 15 that embeds 5% of leverage into its asset allocation and shifts nearly $60 billion in assets into alternative investments by creating a new 5% private debt allocation, boosting private equity by 5 percentage points to 13% and increasing real assets by 2 percentage points to 15%.

Pensions & Investments

Battle over 2013 state pension law may cost California transit billions

It's déjà vu all over again for California transit agencies after the U.S. Department of Labor threatened to take away $12 billion in federal grants in a conflict over a 2013 state pension reform law approved by voters. The department's determination letter could affect about $9.5 billion Congress earmarked for California public transit agencies in the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill President Biden signed in November and about $2.5 billion in American Rescue Plan Act grants for public transit in California.

The Bond Buyer

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