Five before Midnight

This site is dedicated to the continuous oversight of the Riverside(CA)Police Department, which was formerly overseen by the state attorney general. This blog will hopefully play that role being free of City Hall's micromanagement.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget." "You will though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it." --Lewis Carroll

Contact: fivebeforemidnight@yahoo.com

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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Monday, April 07, 2014

'The Mystery of the Missing RPD Helicopter



How did this RPD Bell helicopter wind up being sold at auction in Pomona in February? 

Hint: It's the only RPD helicopter equipped to put out brush fires. 


Stay tuned....

Monday, November 04, 2013

Riverside Police Foundation: Privately Run, Publicly Funded?


UPDATES: 

---- Off to Greener Pastures? Will someone at Orange Street be leaving soon?

Down to the  two Finalists in Chandler, Arizona,  including our very own Asst. Chief Chris Vicino, and yes, they know about the investigation. 

Excerpts:  (The Republic)


“The allegations that she’s making right now, I would look forward to talking to an investigator and having them open our books and look at the things that we do here,” Vicino told The Republic.



“We were aware of it,” Chandler spokeswoman Nachie Marquez said. “That gives (City Manager Rich Dlugas) one more thing to be able to inquire about” when he visits the Riverside Police Department as part of the recruitment process.
“When you’ve been in the business 20, 30 years, there’s going to be something,” she said. “You kind of check it through to make sure there’s legitimacy and do the due diligence that’s required.”

But it appears that Chandler got its chief when Vicino allegedly pulled himself out of the finals. 



----Off to Skelly....one sergeant faced termination this month.

---With Moreno Valley facing the feds, who's next in Riverside County? Is this sizing up to be a competitive race?






Mike Soubirous leads in early results for Ward Three...53% to 43%.... and it widens as the night goes on....elections in River City don't go to those who rack up all the "right" endorsements, they go to those who walk the most miles in their ward, precinct by precinct and back again. Apparently his opponent Valerie Hill began her precinct walking too late in the game. 


City Launches Probe of Allegations by "Independent" Counsel and an "independent" Investigator....after the closed session held on it today.  We'll see won't we if it's worth more than a bucket of warm bull spit 




Publicly owned building or for private sector use?

Orange Street Headquarters is the "business address" for the Riverside Police Foundation, according to the Secretary of State

And its Financial Officer is a member of the State Assembly


From the Foundation's own site:


The Riverside Police Foundation (RPF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing “Service to Youth” and assisting the Riverside Police Department (RPD) with its community outreach. The foundation shares RPD’s vision of taking a leadership role in providing a variety of programs to enhance the city’s service to youth. By doing this, the quality of life for all of our community members will be increased.

The RPF relies on community-based funding from private donors including individuals, small businesses, and corporations whom support our mission through volunteerism, cash donations, and in-kind services and products.


  • Donations may be made on-line by clicking the donate button to the right or via USPS to:Riverside Police Foundation
    C/O Riverside Police Department
    Attention Supervisor Karen Haverkamp
    4102 Orange Street
    Riverside, California 92501.

So for example, who's paying for Karen Haverkamp who's also a Riverside Police Department employee to perform her duties with the Foundation including soliciting and collecting private donations.  Is her compensation for providing these duties being provided through a portion of the donations, is she working for free or... is it part of her duties under which the city is paying her salary and benefits? 




Haverkamp's place in RPD's food chain



TBC.....but also....


The Case of the Disappearing Field Operation Positions...

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

It's a Mad, Mad House at Orange Street Station: Another State Probe Looming?


Another Day Another Investigation Against Riverside Police Department?



Top Civilian Manager Employee Karen Aquino files complaint with State Attorney' General's Office

alleging misuse of city funds, malfeasance. 

The Three Amigos' administration might be facing a state probe


 TBC

Having gone the route of dealing with alleged misuse of asset forfeiture funds under Chief Russ Leach's regime, I've seen just how seriously the city and Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach take it...NOT!  And it's the taxpayer's money after all. 

I'd heard the State DOJ was looking into the RPD on some manner. Perhaps this is it. Guess we'll all see what happens...but color me not surprised. 

So many funding sources and grants...where to start... perhaps with the letter "A". 


To the City of Riverside:


Well I'm stunned. I'm also writing my records requests right now, starting in alphabetical order with the various funds mentioned in this article. Let's see I think that's Asset Forfeiture b/c it begins with an "A". I'll have to bring those report records up to date anyway...and then the COPS grant and I'll start by calling DOJ in DC to see what the exact regulations are for the granting and use of those monies. I will be asking also for the fates of the 15 officers under the grant and what money is being paid to them out of the 20013-20014 budget given that the money was awarded in 2010. And then I'll move on from there. I expect full cooperation on my record requests. pursuant to CPRA laws. That means you Mr. Priamos. 

I'm on the side that's not exploiting the police department, its employees and its resources because this is 2013 and that's just starting to get real old...tiresome...insulting and real expensive on the taxpayer. That's always my concern because I believe in the community/police/and city (though this part messes up too) partnership and don't want to see it jeopardized by any mismanagement. I'm on the side of people who take a stand to oppose to and if necessary expose it if wrongdoing is part of doing business in this city and its department. That's pretty much it.

Get the information, do some research and we'll see what turns up. It's an integrity of a department and the people of our city that foster a relationship with it often in difficult circumstances. 



Allegedly City Manager Scott Barber and City Attorney Greg Priamos are less than thrilled with the administration especially Priamos since he's not so "hands on" the police department as in the past.  But if something's going on are their hands clean? 

And no, the city under no circumstances should be allowed to investigate these allegations...they simply don't come off as that credible.  An outside probe or two is definitely needed. State and federal...as federal funding is involved AND because we know that DA Paul Zellerbach is not going to do a damn thing inside Riverside when it comes to Public Integrity. 




The City Manager of course is keeping silent on the issue...but will his bosses, the City Council have the votes to call for an independent review and audit of the monies involved? He's set to brief them hopefully soon.  

One member of the dais has expressed concern about the situation and the call for an independent review and audit outside the city. Will the other council members agree or be as quiet as they were the last time we had um...problems?





And of course what will Mayor Rusty Bailey think?



For your reading pleasure:  some FAQs on "retention" requirements on COPS Grants


CPRA Request submitted this morning to Asst. Finance Director Scott Catlett and CCed to Patty Tambe, and Deputy Chief Michael Blakely who oversees the civilian side of the police department. 





Oct. 30, 2013 
Scott Catlett, Asst. Financial Director
City of Riverside
RE: Public Records Act Request


Dear Mr. Catlett,


Pursuant to my rights under the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.), I ask to (inspect/obtain a copy of) the following, which I understand to be held by your agency:

The grant award number and ORI# for the COPS Hiring Grant which the city submitted and was awarded monies for 15 sworn officer positions around 2010

I ask for a determination on this request within 10 days of your receipt of it, and an even prompter reply if you can make that determination without having to review the record[s] in question.

If you determine that any or all or the information qualifies for an exemption from disclosure, I ask you to note whether, as is normally the case under the Act, the exemption is discretionary, and if so whether it is necessary in this case to exercise your discretion to withhold the information.

If you determine that some but not all of the information is exempt from disclosure and that you intend to withhold it, I ask that you redact it for the time being and make the rest available as requested.

In any event, please provide a signed notification citing the legal authorities on which you rely if you determine that any or all of the information is exempt and will not be disclosed.

If I can provide any clarification that will help expedite your attention to my request, please contact me at (951-333-7588.). I ask that you notify me of any duplication costs exceeding $0 before you duplicate the records so that I may decide which records I want copied.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.
Sincerely,
Mary Shelton______________________


Note: Patty Tambe is out of office until Oct. 31, 2013




What is this Fascination with Golf?


Why is the Public Sector incorporating the sport into the job responsibilities of Management?


Now that this is done...inquiring minds want to know. Why is the assistant chief out showing off his golf handicap on the public time and dime if that's what's going on?  And why on earth would a gaggle of lieutenants want to play golf with a higher ranking officer? Well...if that's what is going on...then I can think of for exercise, time spent in the sunshine outdoors, stress relief, get to check out what everyone else is wearing but... there's still missing the obvious. 

It's all about networking too...because eventually a captain's position will open up as the current crop ages out and someone's got to fill it.  And weren't we supposed to say bye bye to all this nonsense when a new chief came into power?    


Guess Who's Going to the Federal Grand Jury?

"We're witnesses not targets..."




Real Snappy Suit, Tom Desantis...Ace them at the Grand Jury...

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The DA's Political Contest Begins and It's Politics as Usual


Another Day Another Investigation Against Riverside Police Department?




alleging misuse of city funds, malfeasance. 

The Three Amigos' administration might be facing a state probe


 TBC

Having gone the route of dealing with alleged misuse of asset forfeiture funds under Chief Russ Leach's regime, I've seen just how seriously the city and Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach take it...NOT!  And it's the taxpayer's money after all. 

I'd heard the State DOJ was looking into the RPD on some manner. Perhaps this is it. Guess we'll all see what happens...but color me not surprised. 

So many funding sources and grants...where to start... perhaps with the letter "A". 


To the City of Riverside:


Well I'm stunned. I'm also writing my records requests right now, starting in alphabetical order with the various funds mentioned in this article. Let's see I think that's Asset Forfeiture b/c it begins with an "A". I'll have to bring those report records up to date anyway...and then the COPS grant and I'll start by calling DOJ in DC to see what the exact regulations are for the granting and use of those monies. I will be asking also for the fates of the 15 officers under the grant and what money is being paid to them out of the 20013-20014 budget given that the money was awarded in 2010. And then I'll move on from there. I expect full cooperation on my record requests. pursuant to CPRA laws. That means you Mr. Priamos. 

I'm on the side that's not exploiting the police department, its employees and its resources because this is 2013 and that's just starting to get real old...tiresome...insulting and real expensive on the taxpayer. That's always my concern because I believe in the community/police/and city (though this part messes up too) partnership and don't want to see it jeopardized by any mismanagement. I'm on the side of people who take a stand to oppose to and if necessary expose it if wrongdoing is part of doing business in this city and its department. That's pretty much it.

Get the information, do some research and we'll see what turns up. It's an integrity of a department and the people of our city that foster a relationship with it often in difficult circumstances. 



Allegedly City Manager Scott Barber and City Attorney Greg Priamos are less than thrilled with the administration especially Priamos since he's not so "hands on" the police department as in the past.  But if something's going on are their hands clean? 

And no, the city under no circumstances should be allowed to investigate these allegations...they simply don't come off as that credible. 




The City Manager of course is keeping silent on the issue...but will his bosses, the City Council have the votes to call for an independent review and audit of the monies involved? He's set to brief them hopefully soon. 





And of course what will Mayor Rusty Bailey think?



For your reading pleasure:  some FAQs on "retention" requirements on COPS Grants



 I was watching a Disney movie, called "The Shaggy D.A." that was a sequel of course to the "Shaggy Dog".  Dean Jones played him in the newer film as a man who had decided to take on small town corruption by throwing his hat in the D.A.'s race where he'd be taking on a fat cat who'd profited from the corruption he oversaw in his little kingdom.



Suzanne Pleshette played his bewildered but very supportive political spouse and Tim Conway drove an ice cream truck with a sheepdog who became the other persona of the shaggy D.A.

River City is far removed from the fictional town of Medfield where Wilby Daniels launched his own grass roots candidacy for that office.  But then River City hasn't been a stranger to its own brand of controversy particularly during election cycles.

The city council in this beleaguered city had mostly ran its course earlier this year with two incumbents Andrew Melendrez and Paul Davis returning to office joined by newbie Jim Perry who replaced an outgoing Nancy Hart for Ward Six.

Only the election finals remains in the newly districted Ward Three now the city's largest and that will be decided the first Tuesday in November as to whether Valerie Hill or Mike Soubirous  will fill that dais seat.  It hadn't been the noisiest or more controversial of election years so far but when controversy arose, many still expected it to happen in this still undecided contest.

Instead the arena where it took place was the political race for Riverside County DA which won't be decided until 2014.  Although this contest had begun earlier than usual, it had proceeded pretty quietly with barely a ripple as the challenger to the incumbent began setting up his campaign machine, putting it in motion and rather quietly picking up endorsements for his candidacy including from many of the county's law enforcement associations from Blythe to Riverside Sheriff's Association, the largest one of all.

Not to mention the DA's own bargaining unit, the Riverside County Deputy District Attorneys' Association endorsed its former president and current challenger to the incumbent.


The Arenas



The Taj Mahal 

DA HeadQuarters







DA Eastern Division

AKA

The Penalty Box?



Indio's not been a very kind home to some of its investigators, namely Daniel Riter who did time for on the job involuntary manslaughter conviction and David McGowan who killed five family members before shooting himself to death inside his own home.   Prosecutors sent there including at least one candidate who ran against long-time incumbent Grover Trask and most recently two active members of the deputy DA's bargaining unit, John Aki and Mike Hestrin. Career enrichment or rotation or something entirely different? There's been a lot of interesting debate over this one.


When the Prosecutory Becomes Political 

(Part 1 in a Series)

Still though the campaigning and strategizing that comes with an election had begun, it was still quite early when the ripples of controversy emerged as the first shots were fired in what might be a contentious and turbulent election after all.

The Candidates







It's a two horse race which was much different than when former prosecutor turned state assemblyman Rod Pacheco ran against himself after apparently being carefully groomed for the position by King of DAs  Grover Trask.  The man who ruled that office longer than some monarchs have been in power without being beheaded or locked up inside some kind of tower managing to "retire" from the position to get a nice partnership at Best, Best and Krieger. There he authored a somewhat "whitewashed" investigative report for former city manager Brad Hudson and the very quiet City Council that employed him (though some believe it's the other way around) where he "reviewed" the city's own investigation into the infamous DUI scandal involving former Riverside Police Department Chief Russ Leach.

Past Rulers in the DA Palace




Grover Trask, King of DAs


After serving 20 plus in the DA's office, Trask  stepped down and basically handed off his seat to Rod Pacheco who had been a prosecutor, then got elected to the State Assembly where he promptly ticked off a lot of Republican politicos and wound up losing a lot of his luster before terming out and returning to a high ranking position in his former haunt. 

As DA, some say he ruled with an iron fist and helped shut down both the civil and criminal court systems necessitating Chief Justice of the State Supreme Court Ronald George to send an crisis task force of judges down to fix the justice system and its gridlock in River City, and surrounding county.  Jury duty certainly came up more frequently and one day, I and a record setting 848 members of a jury pool lined up around the block for court before Judge Hanks sent out a search party looking for us and some embarrassed deputies rounded us up and herded us up to his courtroom. My fault, partly I had broke the ranks with the other jurors stuck in line and asked the security guard to kindly call Judge Hanks and tell him that most of his jury pool would be late to his courtroom due to the gridlock in the lines.  She said no, and I told her that was okay because the judge would be calling down himself to find out where the jurors were within 15 minutes and he did it in less than ten.  That scenario repeated itself and the courts gamed the "one trial/one day" system to keep from running out of jurors before the week was done.  

A lot of frustration and poor morale hit many corners of the justice system. Lawsuits arose from some employees during the Pacheco reign filed by his own employees. Trask's main peeps took off for retirement or other jobs including in the private sector and Pacheco put those who were loyal to the in their positions, made the DA's office even more top heavy than River City's own hall of power. He got a shiny new building while the Public Defenders' Office continued to share space in the tight quarters of an asbestos infested building.  Though topped by a tower that was more than slightly phallic, the city embraced the new building after a tussle over parking and relocating every Smart Riverside router in the Eastside neighborhood that fell in its mighty shadow. 

Former prosecutor turned Riverside County Superior Court Judge Paul Zellerbach would throw his own hat in the ring in 2010.   He would wind  up winning sending Pacheco into private practice. 


Rod Pacheco, Fallen Prince

Anointed Successor to single-term DA in Nothing Flat 





Riverside Public Defender Steve Harmon



Some say I'm not a fan of the DA's office because I'm a champion of criminals among other things.  One time said that I was busy writing my letter to some parole board urging them not to release serial killer Kenneth Bianchi (never heard of him, Google him) who's doing life with parole up in Washington State. But anyway....I actually do respect the DA's office and am quite intrigued by the idea of it and the reality which often results from the fractured marriage of two often warring partners I'll just call, Prosecution and Politics.  I often think what's the point of making the state's prosecutor a politician and putting the hiring of that county department head up for election every four years.  What seems to happen is always the same thing...you elect a person who promises to be a prosecutor first ahead of being a politician which is the label given to the incumbent. Often they win the election and then the countdown begins to when they'll decide that being a politician suits them better than a dye in the wool prosecutor.

Or perhaps the prosecutor becomes the politician just to survive in a politicized office.

Politics has ruined the office time and time again or badly tarnished it and it just shouldn't be that way. Why elect the head of prosecution and appoint the head of public defense?  That never made much sense to me either. The Public Defender's Office actually irritates me more because I'll just never forget the time a public defender and supervising public defender badgered a client to plead guilty including to a felony, he "fired" them, represented himself without a law degree and through prelim (felony discharged by judge!) and even a trial walked away with only one misdemeanor conviction that was later overturned by the Court of Appeals, all without a law degree or even a college diploma. I mean the day a non-lawyer can do the job better than the office's crop of trained attorneys is more than enough reason to be annoyed.  It's not that both offices don't provide valuable services because they do and without them you wouldn't have a justice system, it's just that for the longest time the PD office seemed inept (more than one story of defendants representing themselves and winning after being told to "take a plea" by this office) and underfunded and the DA's office which had pretty much the purse strings of Riverside County certainly under Pacheco just seemed mired in the politics that just naturally comes with any elected position.

People talk about the "pure" prosecutor who focuses on that job and that job alone, and how the DA is the epitome of that image, somehow co-existing and moving about in a world that's anything but.  The reality is that by the time they exit the stage whether it's 20 years or only four, they all come off as political hacks leaving behind a DA's office in turmoil before the next leader takes powers with promises to "fix"" everything and restore the "DA" in the DA's office.  Back and forth, back and forth the power shifts until the office itself and its factions look like children riding on a seesaw in a playground, on the best days. Playing tug a war on the not so best days.

 Because politicians raise money through campaign donors and when they win election are they then beholden in any way to those who donate to their campaigns?  I remember Trask had one donor that had to be prosecuted on two separate criminal cases by the State Attorney General's office because of conflict of interest after that company out of Norco and its highest level employees had donated to one of his political campaigns. As long as there's political candidates and campaign war chests, that'll always happen. After meeting with Zellerbach inside the Taj Mahal and Public Integrity members on some "issues" with Riverside, including the infamous four way property swap which was to begin with the Citrus Towers and end with the RPD Admin headquarters winding up on top of a parking garage next to City Hall, I thought okay maybe there's a Public Integrity Office after all. Not long after that I received a campaign flier in the mail about a "luau" fundraiser held by Zellerbach's political campaign machine and included were the members of his "special" committee and they included members of River City's governing body, the city council.

So when a former prosecutor or two told me that River City was pretty "safe" from ever facing accountability from any DA's Public Integrity Unit, I didn't need a primer telling me that and why.  Politics in River City is already very incestuous...and apparently that includes the County as well.  But then it's all about politics and political survival from one gladiator style election to the next so what else can you expect?

 One former prosecutor I spoke with was candid in his belief that many a DA has run to be a prosecutor first, a politician being way down on the list but because of the nature of the campaigning and election process they always wind up falling into the same mold of being the Political DA.  It's more the system itself than the intent of the person in it, according to this former prosecutor.  Including the "I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine" that's part of any successful political campaign. The winner who's left standing at the end invariably has indebted his or herself to "supporters" and has to start paying back those debts.

The nature of the beast, it's called in a tone which often sounds both apologetic and defensive.

He did say Hestrin had the potential to break that mold and stick to being a chief prosecutor first. To Hestrin's credit, his response to the idea of prosecutors helping to send  a man to prison for a crime he didn't commit  (according to DNA testing) in order to avoid the DA's office admission of making a mistake and some whitewashing was to circulate a 15 page letter around the office taking a stand on it.  If so, that's the action of a prosecutor, more than a politician. Prosecutors err, that's the nature of any job employing humans but when you hold a person's liberty in your hands and hold back on the truth, in favor of politics...well is that an office worth supporting?  The letter by Hestrin allegedly created a bit of a stir but if he indeed sent it out, more power to him. The scales were a bit more evenly balanced that day.  But then the DA's office had been embarrassed for prosecuting non guilty parties before waiting for the DNA results to come back on evidence. Not that it always matters as one former deputy DA who wound up with a lot of egg on his face was soon appointed as a judge in Superior Court.

But that it might be an impossible mold to break even for him.  Yes there's precedent, you have county sheriffs that are elected and police chiefs that are appointed.  And yes, politics and different types of dynamics and pressure plays into both.  But it's hard to look at the DA's office sometimes as just another political office when its cast of characters particularly those in the position to do so treat it like one.  One DA fills his executive positions with his peeps (though Zellerbach wiped out the official division and the cubicles and offices in the top floor were pretty empty a year or so ago) and then a new DA comes in, wipes that all out and replaces the spaces with his own peeps, like Zellerbach did with people like Jeff VanWagenen and Mike Soccio.

It's not stupid to do that, because you don't want to be surrounded by members of the opponent's camp. The adage of keeping your friends close, your enemies closer didn't work for Julius Caesar after all. But when the county's prosecutor's office turn into the Roman Empire anyway?

I have at least one lawyer in my family and he was recruited by the DA's office in Riverside County from one of the law schools in the state always on its recruitment list. One of the points they hit the hardest didn't have anything to do with being a lawyer let alone a prosecutor, it was the little known factoid that Riverside County had more golf  courses than most counties do and if you work for the DA's office, you too can have access to a higher number of golf courses...and well reading that, just made me scratch my head. Yes, I'm aware of all the politicking that takes place on River City's putting greens but really as a major selling tool?

Not that I'm not convinced at this point that the DA's Public Integrity Unit doesn't spend most of its time on the golf course. The former prosecutor told me that don't expect any public integrity unit under ANY DA past or present to ever look closely at what's going on in government in River City like the city that houses the main offices of the DA is like immune from any form of scrutiny from this unit.  I mean even though city council members off the record whisper frantically that they don't like what they're being told or ordered to do on issues discussed behind closed doors and not in public sessions of the city council. Rumors on the breeze of this DA or that one looking closer at River City's dais...but no it'll never happen not in this century.
Zellerbach came on like gangbusters on the heels of the FBI in the latest round of subpoenas issued at Moreno Valley's government after the city council conveniently decided to draft an ordinance advocating faster and earlier destruction of public records  not long after the federal probe of corruption in the city began.  River City of course passed a similar ordinance not long ago without similar concerns raised by the DA's office with one of the current management employees of Moreno Valley now, Tom DeSantis at the helm of the assistant city manager's position in Riverside.


A Common Denominator?

Tom DeSantis held assistant city manager positions in two cities who suddenly decided to pass ordinances advocating the destruction of public records at early dates. Coincidence? Inquiring minds want to know. 



Anyway, I was assured by former prosecutor that when it comes to River City the Public Integrity Unit will never amount to much. The only person ever really investigated by that unit that hit the press was an activist leader of a political organization that opposed then councilman Dom Betro who was investigated by the Public Integrity Unit over alleged voter residency violations...so this unit in all its work in River City pushes hard in one investigation against a local activist...not much to right home about.

So anyway despite my issues with whether the DA's office is a straight prosecutory agency or a political post bound to the same unwritten rules that all politicians must follow, I was still following the election campaigns which had gotten into swing some months before the election in 2014.

So when the first scandal broke in August it was a bit surprising to see it in the DA's race and not the one remaining election in River City.

A scandal that involved behavior that was both sleazy but also incredibly stupid. But it's hardly the first time that has happened in River City.  Someone fired a preemptive strike against Hestrin formerly introducing him to campaign mudslinging of the most personal kind. Targeting someone's family is always the act of a political coward and again stupid, because if there's a politician who himself doesn't live in a glass house I have yet to meet him or her.   But it's an act of political desperation because in reality, it's not good political strategy, it's backfired in River City elections enough time (right up there with the decision of some ex-politicos to act like immature hot headed jerks in or during their own campaigns) and it's just like I said, incredibly stupid.  That's why one of the most highly touted but least successful  (in the win column with candidates) campaign strategy consultants fails more than not to back a winner because the slogan of that political consulting firm (which later split into two pieces) is simply to throw mud at the opposing candidate and people who support them or appear to support them.  The hiring of them by the last DA proved to be icing on the cake to get the current one into office.

But anyway, no one ever really learns these basic tenets which became clear when in August, news broke that an investigation into the use of a campaign letter and photos had been launched.  Apparently what happened is that some campaign letters were sent out on the letter head of one of the police unions supporting Hestrin, the Riverside Police Officers' Association. Only they were included with "racy" photos of Hestrin's wife who'd been a model and had been sent to organizations like the Riverside Republican Women Federated, in what was described by RPOA president Sgt. Brian Smith as a "personal attack".

Both Hestrin who's understandably upset about his wife being targeted, and Zellerbach the natural number one suspect came out with comments in the PE.

.”“This is totally out of bounds. It’s not even close,” Hestrin said. “I’m going to continue to talk about the issues in Riverside County and why crime is up, but the district attorney isn’t addressing it. It’s dirty tricks, mean spirited and hurtful, and I’m not going to be dissuaded.”

Followed by this response from his opponent:


Zellerbach said there’s no place to attack an opponent’s family. He said he did not condone the letters and said the election should be between him and Hestrin and about their records.
“When things are put on the Internet, anyone can access them. In a political campaign, we as candidates put ourselves out there,” Zellerbach said. “It’s unfortunate when our family members become involved. Having been through a nasty campaign myself, political campaigns are sometimes a nasty business.

The RPOA through Smith responded:

It’s cowardly attacking someone’s family,” Smith said “This is an all out assault on Mike Hestrin’s family. His wife and kids aren’t running for DA – he is. It makes my blood boil.





Comments abounded in that section of the article and the PE actually didn't erase them away or edit them. 


Good for RPOA and Brian Smith! Whoever participated in this kind of slimy politics, shame on you. AND, if you think targeting the innocent and sweet wife of Mike Hestrin is going to gain you favor, especially amongst the female voters, then you are obviously oblivious that it will backfire. Intelligent women will not allow themselves to be used as a pawn. We're smarter than that, AND we won't be used as a means to your dirty politics! This kind of political strategy that attacks innocent family members is unacceptable, offensive, and unforgiveable. As RPOA's President Brian Smith put it best, this "makes my blood boil." Eventually, the truth and justice will prevail.

---Michelle Paradise, Riverside County District Attorney's office at the PE.com site





So everyone talked about it...and so far Michelle hasn't been shipped off to Indio but she's right, women are much smarter than someone or someones gave them credit for when they used these tactics. Investigations were requested and launched by different agencies.  Fingers were pointed including at Zellerbach but is he too obvious a suspect? Is there such thing as a "too obvious" suspect outside of mystery fiction?  But I was reminded of a recent episode of The Good Wife, where the heroine's (the "Wife") no good, should have stayed ex-husband was running for governor.  Voting fraud instigated by one of the candidates took place on Election day and inadvertently spotted by his own son working at a poll and had been done because the polls said it'd be a close election. But the Wife's Husband won by a landslide so all that effort...and it wasn't even necessary though it led to some hilarious battles in front of court where the opposing legal parties argued one side and then flip flopped.  It was revealed that it's likely the Husband and Candidate didn't know that his own campaign manager had ordered the voting fraud to take place.  So there's always a possibility that the candidate didn't know what his own campaign including his manager were up to...though with this television drama you just never know and it could easily turn out that the Husband knew all along.

The same is true in River City politics often. So is it true in this case? Did the smear tactics come out of Zellerbach's campaign and did he know anything about it?  Since the whole thing is sleazy but also very stupid...it stands to reason that a stupid people believing he or she or they were smart would have done something like that.  The article said the photos came out of some place that was "hacked" from a "private account" so who had knowledge of it and access? Who knew how to "hack" it however that was done?

The other questions surround the use of the RPOA letterhead. Just about every police association endorsed Hestrin early on. The RPOA was one of the first but not the largest. That'd be the RSA which endorsed later on down the campaign trail.  Why was the RPOA letterhead used and how was it accessed? Was it from some template of it created for use in its correspondence? Was it simply used by someone who had a copy of a letter with it on it?  Was it political retaliation for that earlier endorsement and if so from whom? Was it someone mad at Hestrin AND the RPOA or at least the RPOA PAC Committee which handles the union's endorsement process? Was their dissent on the committee in the process as there had been in the past including one election where members of the PAC Committee resigned?  Was it an attack on both or was one just used as a means to get to go after the other?   All of these things just come to mind as someone from the outside looking in at the political arena.

If you want to get to the bottom of anything you have to look at everything with an unflinching eye especially in the world of politics where so often truth is stranger than fiction.  The hacked photo site and the origins of the letterhead are the two areas to look at and then find a way to connect the two together.

Was anyone involved from the DA's office or one of its unions (and the RSA includes some DA employees in its own membership)?  Zellerbach definitely should do as Hestrin recommended and do an internal investigation of his own campaign machine in case it's a scenario ala The Good Wife  because it's the right thing to do including for the voters though if he's directly involved, that of course isn't going to happen. But he's probably not the only one who should be doing that.

As a tactic it likely backfired as one would expect and one would hope it would. Sleazy tactics and personal attacks on candidates' family members shouldn't take place as competitive as these contests may get and they certainly shouldn't be condoned. The voters are so damn tired of this nonsense and it reflects badly not just on those who do it but the entire process itself. It taints the office that is instilled with so much public respect and trust in ways that sometimes can never be rehabilitated or repaired.

The Press Enterprise Editorial Board  condemned the use of smear tactics over policy dialogue  and yeah it's all sleazy and seriously voters are more interested in learning how candidates for office stand on the issues that matter most of them not a bunch of salacious nonsense.  I mean that's what reality TV is for right?  But then River City itself is turning into reality television just told on a very broad canvas and with a growing cast of characters.

And remember that earlier incestuous relationship between Zellerbach and River City's own government? The kind that can make something unethical be defined as "bad business"?

Well last month at the Mission Inn, Zellerbach joined a bunch of who's whos to honor current or future Congressional Candidate Steve Adams, a member of River City's City Council as shown in this impressive little invite


Campaign event for Councilman Steve Adams


Business as usual in River City

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

It's Autumn and Already There's a Raid...




News is that the law firm of Lackie, Dammeier McGill and Ethir got raided by Orange County DA investigators in Upland

The law firm which has already dissolved in response to civil litigation filed against it is being investigated most likely in connection with a dust up that took place in Costa Mesa last year involving two elected officials, the Orange County Sheriff's Association and the law firm. 

More to come...





I'm still recuperating from surgery to replace the shoulder that experienced what my surgeon called "the creme de la creme" of humerus fractures and working very hard at trying to make my shoulder and arm work again.  Anyway, I was watching a Disney movie, called "The Shaggy D.A." that was a sequel of course to the "Shaggy Dog".  Dean Jones played him in the newer film as a man who had decided to take on small town corruption by throwing his hat in the D.A.'s race where he'd be taking on a fat cat who'd profited from the corruption he oversaw in his little kingdom.



Suzanne Pleshette played his bewildered but very supportive political spouse and Tim Conway drove an ice cream truck with a sheepdog who became the other persona of the shaggy D.A.


















Good for RPOA and Brian Smith! Whoever participated in this kind of slimy politics, shame on you. AND, if you think targeting the innocent and sweet wife of Mike Hestrin is going to gain you favor, especially amongst the female voters, then you are obviously oblivious that it will backfire. Intelligent women will not allow themselves to be used as a pawn. We're smarter than that, AND we won't be used as a means to your dirty politics! This kind of political strategy that attacks innocent family members is unacceptable, offensive, and unforgiveable. As RPOA's President Brian Smith put it best, this "makes my blood boil." Eventually, the truth and justice will prevail.

---Michelle Paradise, Riverside County District Attorney's office at the PE.com site

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Riverside County Grand Jury Spanks Riverside's Very Own City Attorney.



I've been out recovering from a severely fractured humerus bone and reconstruction but caught a few interesting grand jury reports.





Spanked?



Riverside County Grand Jury spanks Riverside City Attorney Greg Priamos  on allegedly violating the "secrecy" of the grand jury process during its investigation of the Riverside Police Department. and violating PC  939.22

(excerpt) The Grand Jury found that the City of Riverside, Office of the City Attorney, did not recognize the responsibilities of the Grand Jury and did not honor the secrecy of the Grand Jury. On April 12, 16, and 18, 2013, the Grand Jury received correspondence signed by the City Attorney with the subject line “Civil Grand Jury Investigation of Officer Involved Death of Brandon Dunbar on March 1, 2012, File No. CA 13-0765.” According to sworn and recorded testimony, the City Attorney stated that after speaking with the Riverside Police Department, he “surmised” the Investigation of Officer Involved Death of Brandon Dunbar on March 1, 2012, was the subject matter being investigated by the Grand Jury. Had the Grand Jury been investigating this subject matter, all confidentiality on the part of the Grand Jury would have been compromised, as this document was copied to the following: The Hon. Mark Cope, Presiding Judge Creg G. Datig, Assistant District Attorney Pamela Wall County Counsel Scott C. Barber, City Manager Belinda J. Graham, Assistant City Manager James E. Brown, Supervising Deputy City Attorney Frank Hauptmann, Community Police Review Manager4 When asked why he copied these individuals, his response was, “to make them aware of what the Grand Jury was doing”. After being admonished regarding secrecy, on April 22, 2013, the City Attorney filed a Motion and Motion to Modify with the Superior Court of California, County of Riverside that contained Exhibits B and C with the subject, “Civil Grand Jury Investigation of Officer Involved Death of Brandon Dunbar on March 1, 2012, File No. CA 13-0765,” which is in violation of Penal Code §939.22. On May 20, 2013, the Office of the Riverside County Counsel sent a letter


Why is the city's attorney who's supposed to uphold the law alleged by the County Grand Jury of violating a section of the penal code and what will his "bosses" do or have to say about that? 



More to come..... including Priamos' written response to the Superior Court in response is being voted on by the city council in the consent calendar this week.

The letter is available on the City's Web site under this week's city council agenda, then under #27 on the link for "letter and exhibits".  





Some links to read on past Grand Jury reports: 

Riverside Police Department State Morale and Administrative Review


The city's response to Grand Jury report

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Another RPD Lawsuit heads to Jury Trial

UPDATE:
 
 
Judge Ronald Taylor Tosses out Nakamura Lawsuit 

 
In the afternoon session, the city's attorneys presented a motion to toss the lawsuit out to Taylor claiming that the Prima Facie hadn't been met. There was a lot of legalese tossed around but basically there were two main points of Taylor's ruling
 
 
1) If you commit a violation you put yourself at risk of being investigated and if there's problematic practices involved in that investigation it's your fault. Something along the lines that you can only be raped if you wear conservative clothing and are a nun.
 
 
2) If the RPD experiences atypical periods of chaos in its history, it's perfectly acceptable if it either doesn't follow written policy or has written policies in place.
 
 
By the way, the jury appeared split right down the middle and split verdicts were highly possible. But why take your chance with a jury when it's easier to convince one judge? Why have jury trials anyway? The city had fought so hard to avoid having a jury hear it, now they fought to prevent a jury from deciding it.  Some jurors appeared to sense from the testimony that not all was right in River City.
 
 
As a decade long watchdog of the Riverside Police Department, this ruling greatly troubled me particularly the argument that if you're in chaos, you don't have to have written rules or follow them. Unfortunately, that's been  longtime pattern and practice of the RPD as historians know and with a Superior Court judge putting his stamp of approval on that, we're all waiting for the next crisis and its aftermath.


The following CPRA request seeking policy and procedure information was sent to the RPD including its Training Division. Upon further review, a separate CPRA request will be sent regarding similar information on "detention" procedures for departmental employees including alleged or suspected victims of sexual harassment or a hostile work environment.


Forwarded Message -----
From: mary shelton <chicalocaside@yahoo.com>
To: "
sdiaz@riversideca.gov"
Cc: "
cvicino@riversideca.gov" ; "jgreer@riversideca.gov" ; "mblakely@riversideca.gov" ; "JBrennan@riversideca.gov"
Sent: Wednesday, April 10, 2013 9:07 PM
Subject: CPRA Request


April 11, 2013

Riverside Police Department
4102 Orange St.


Riverside CA 92501

RE: Public Records Act Request

Dear Chief Sergio Diaz:

Pursuant to my rights under the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.), I ask to (inspect/obtain a copy of) the following, which I understand to be held by your agency:

Copies of any and all relevant polices, procedures, training (including AB 1825 training) and investigate/interrogative practices involving addressing Sexual Harassment and a hostile workplace environment for both civilian and sworn employees

Background: During recent litigation, it's come to my attention that several, perhaps well intended practices involving the investigation/interrogation of potential sexual harassment victims might cause undue trauma, and a chilling effect on the reporting of sexual harassment/hostile work environment if these practices are still in place. One of them being the means of approaching the victim or any witnesses to set up the necessary interview of him or her to obtain the account of any alleged harassment or policy violations to that effect. For example, showing up unannounced in a parking lot of a city owned facility to escort or transport them for an interview.

Deputy Chief Mike Blakely very helpfully testified in a court proceeding of how the department's management holds that these practices help facilitate the investigation of suspected sexual harassment/hostile work environment and prevent a "chilling effect" against any reports of such policy violations but in known practice it seemed to have the opposite effect. The information requested would greatly help to see what current practices and procedures are and how they stack up with "best practices".

Also I learned in the court proceeding through sworn testimony that the RPD currently has no policies and procedures in writing or otherwise addressing sexual harassment/hostile work environment within the agency itself apart from the city at large. There's been testimony and legal argument presented that the department is a "paramilitary organization" and thus has unique needs and realities separating it from the city. It seems to me if that's the case it should be adopting and using its policies and procedures to address this. Former Police Chief Penny Harrington and I had discussed these issues over time extensively as to what are best practices and how to adopt them. The department's had to grapple with this pressing issue in prior investigations including at the management level so hopefully at that time this status quo of not having an investigative/interrogative procedure in writing was in fact changed.

The commitment to addressing a hostile working environment pertaining particularly to gender was also in a preliminary draft of the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan before your arrival in July 2010.

This email has been carbon copied for informational purposes to the chain of command in your training division. Thank you for your patience in reading this supplementary summary pertaining to this CPRA request.

------------------------

I ask for a determination on this request within 10 days of your receipt of it, and an even prompter reply if you can make that determination without having to review the record[s] in question.

If you determine that any or all or the information qualifies for an exemption from disclosure, I ask you to note whether, as is normally the case under the Act, the exemption is discretionary, and if so whether it is necessary in this case to exercise your discretion to withhold the information.

If you determine that some but not all of the information is exempt from disclosure and that you intend to withhold it, I ask that you redact it for the time being and make the rest available as requested.

In any event, please provide a signed notification citing the legal authorities on which you rely if you determine that any or all of the information is exempt and will not be disclosed.

If I can provide any clarification that will help expedite your attention to my request, please contact me at 951-233-4205. I ask that you notify me of any duplication costs exceeding $0 before you duplicate the records so that I may decide which records I want copied.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Mary Shelton

Independent Citizen Monitor of the Riverside Police Department

 
 
 
 
TO BE CONTINUED....







Internal Affairs Division
 
April 2010




It looks like the lawsuit that Riverside Police Department officer Neely Nakamura filed against the city and four police department employees will be heading to jury trial next week. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Ronald Taylor issued rulings not favoring the city's motions to get the lawsuit thrown out before it sees the light of day.  The defendants were the city, Deputy Chief Mike Blakely, Lt. Mike Cook, Sgt. John Capen and Sgt. Frank Assumma. All of them worked in some capacity for the internal affairs division, which is an agency umbrellaed under the chief's office who at the time was Interim Chief John Delarosa.  Only as it turned out it really wasn't under his command because he would become "invisible" but that'll be detailed more later on.

The morning of April 4, attorneys for both Nakamura and the city spent time behind closed doors in Taylor's chambers fighting over whether or not there will be a trial and if so who'll testify. The main bone of contention involves the testimony of former Deputy Chief Pete Esquival who according to Taylor's ruling will be testifying from the witness stand during the trial.

But after the court of appeals refused to stay the trial proceedings, a jury was selected and the trial got started. 

Minus one defendant.  

Actually first the defendants filed a motion to get Taylor kicked off the bench as the judge but that didn't happen. Taylor who retired from the bench and then returned to hear cases would be the trier of  law.

Then Taylor discharged Assumma from the list of defendants after he decided that Assumma had just been following orders.  He's still set to testify later on in the trial.

That still left the rest of them and Blakely acting as the case agent for the defense.  Nakamura sits at her table with attorneys from Lackie, Dammeier and McGill while the city has Blakely along with three legal eagles most likely from an outside firm.

The witness list is not very long. Nakamura, the defendants, Assumma and some blasts from the past in the form of Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel, former Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis and former police chief, Russ Leach.

The witnesses are featured below along with a couple who weren't on the witness list.

Nakamura testified first and I missed most of the initial direct testimony but dropped by for the afternoon session.  The defendants sat in the audience along with Riverside Police Officers' Association President Brian Smith.

A female attorney cross examined Nakamura and spent most of her line of questioning on the sexual relationship between her and Esquivel and the violations of departmental policy.  As well as some questions on whether or not documentation of both POBAR (Police Officer Bill of Rights) and Lynberger (the right to remain silent except in an IA investigation)admonition.   I wasn't surprised to see a female attorney take the lead in the cross-examination for the city and the defendants as that's often the case to keep the jury from thinking the witness who in some cases but not this one might be a victim of sexual harassment is being beaten up by a male attorney.  She seemed to be more aggressive in trial law and procedure than Nakamura's male attorney  Lots of objections flying out and Taylor seemed to be fairly down the middle, not favoring one side over the other which must have greatly alleviated the city's concerns that it had about him when they tried to get him tossed.

Nakamara appeared a bit nervous but poised during what must be very difficult testimony. Hers would by its nature be the trial's most difficult because no other witness has to talk about their sexual history in a department which according to what one witness testified had its last sexual harassment investigation in 2012.  She testified about how humiliated she felt about being acted the personal questions and that the experience was degrading.  The intimidation of being pressured to get into a car in the parking lot at Magnolia Polices Station to be driven by two sergeants all the way across town to the downtown bus terminal which housed the Internal Affairs Division and how she felt unable to leave due to the demeanor and words of the officers there and not having transportation with her.

It was the lawsuit filed by her in 2011 fleshed out in greater detail that comes with spoken words.  But what caught people's attention was the part at the very end of her testimony where she talked about receiving a written reprimand once she'd turned from "witness" or sexual harassment "victim" to "person of interest" and later "guilty person".  Maybe some people would have said that was harsh discipline but she said she accepted it and considered it lenient.

She would be right and that fact struck some people as a bit odd.  Pressure someone in a car without warning, interview them about intimate activities in a conference room, leave them there for a period of time and then some hours later, driving back.  All that and a written reprimand but Nakamura testified to why she felt that she'd received that relatively minor discipline for admitted violations including conduct unbecoming of an officer and a conflict of interest.

"I don't think it was me that they were after," she said, "They were after Pete Esquivel."


Those were her final words on the stand.   An impression on the jury from her before the next witness hit the stand which was Blakely.  

I'd been away with my injured shoulder for a while but I was once again reminded of the police department's dynamic of Spy versus Spy as soon as Blakely started his direct as a hostile witness for Nakamura's side.

Seriously, I was intrigued immediately by his rather descriptive view of life inside the upper echelon of the police department's management including the administration of the Internal Affairs Division. When Nakamura's attorney asked Blakely if he were the head of that division, he said no, that job fell to the police chief and that in between him and the chief was the assistant police chief who during that time period would be John Delarosa.  He then became the acting or interim chief when then Chief Russ Leach took his medical retirement after the infamous Super Bowl Sunday DUI crash.

That investigation led to a fissure in the Internal Affairs Division in that Lt. Cook and two sergeants were loaned out to reporting to then hired consultant from Best, Best and Krieger, Grover Trask. The former District Attorney was paid to oversee the Leach investigation and that left two sergeants in Internal Affairs working under Blakely.

But when it came to investigating a situation that would arise involving Esquivel, Blakely decided not to report any concerns about it to Delarosa but instead went straight to DeSantis as well as City Attorney Greg Priamos.   And in that point of his testimony, Delarosa became "Johnny Who" or the "invisible chief" because considering he and not Leach was the chief in power at the time, he seemed not only out of the administrative loop but invisible as well. The reasoning was that it'd be a conflict of interest because Esquivel wanted the chief's job, had been vocal about it and had criticized Delarosa's handling of the Leach incident.

Priamos agreed with Blakely's concern and DeSantis gave him the authority to continue the investigation. That's when the testimony started about concerns that Esquivel had too many phone calls, the durations and timing of which particularly Nakamura became a concern needing further investigation.

It was actually Capen who brought up the number of phone calls involving Esquivel and Nakamura and that part intrigued me. I had some familiarity with what Internal Affairs did including the fact that the division itself was closely managed allegedly down to the phone call and key stroke by upper management but I wasn't aware that the division itself was involved with monitoring the  phone calls of other people in such detail. Perhaps on some level it makes sense to be able to immediately deal with irregularities in time and duration and sheer number of phone calls between two parties but on a practical sense, even in a medium sized department it would seem to be a logistic nightmare to keep track of everybody who's making phone calls.

That would take so much time considering Internal Affairs does several dozen internal investigations, perhaps a percentage of the few dozen or so citizen complaint investigations and investigation/reviews of officer involved shootings and deaths. Depending on the year that can be quite a workload for a division that's been downsized a bit since 2010.

Then again perhaps it's possible that not everyone was having an accounting of their phone activity and it was mainly Esquival for whatever reason. Another open internal affairs probe, a history of prior concerns or perhaps idle curiosity.  Whatever the reason, the monitoring of Esquivel's phone activity generated enough interest for further probing and that's where Nakamura allegedly came into the situation.

Blakely testified that he was concerned by the "very unusual" volume, duration and timing of their phone calls but didn't act initially because Nakamura was supervised by Esquivel except for the fact that he also told the jury that particular supervisory dynamic concerned him too.  So much so he bypassed the invisible acting chief and went to the defacto chief DeSantis for further counsel on this situation involving Esquivel and what he thought might be his sexual harassment of Nakamura.  Priamos' office was asked to provide guidance as well.

The invisible chief was left out of the loop out of concern that there might be a conflict of interest which was one way of saying that Delarosa wanted the police chief job too without actually saying it.  The defacto chief thus made the decision about the internal affairs investigation but then again the invisible chief was also being investigated in the Leach DUI probe by the city though DeSantis would also allegedly face his own struggles with a similar situation on his own watch with a subordinate employee.

When Blakely was asked about his own relationship with Esquivel, he said he found him to be competent and they worked well together in a "harmonious" manner.  But then returned to the issue of DeSantis, the defacto chief giving him authority to continue doing the investigation of Esquivel's phone activity.

He and Cook were part of a meeting to decide how to handle it including Nakamura. The decision was made to handle her in a "discreet" manner. Capen and Assumma were included in the investigative team due to familiarity with the investigation whether this one involving Esquivel or another one involving Esquivel wasn't clear by his testimony.  But what is fairly well known now is that Esquivel had more than one investigation pending against him.

The decision was made to get hold of Nakamura in a "discreet" fashion because tipping her off about the investigation or its nature might compromise it. Okay but then it got a little bit confusing as to what was "discreet" about it. Blakely testified that it worked out quite well...mostly.

"That was pretty much what I was hoping they'd do," he testified.

Then he added that they didn't know that she'd had prior phone contact with Esquivel while driving into the parking lot at Magnolia Police Station where she saw the two IA sergeants, Capen and Assumma.

Yes it definitely makes sense not to send IA sergeants to pick up witnesses inside a police station like Magnolia's in front of other officers which could compromise an internal investigation. Hence the decisions to place Internal Affairs right next to the Neighborhood Policing Center North at the bus terminal not to mention moving Internal Affairs inside the Magnolia Station itself later on.  These decisions even if necessitated by dwindling budget monies do make it seem like officer confidentiality and privacy is a secondary consideration.

But it seems that absconding a police officer in the parking lot of a major facility filled with police officers including others parking their cars would simply attract attention and notice that something unusual is taking place. It'd be hard not to pay attention to it. It's hard to believe that an officer could be in that situation and not feel like the person investigated rather than a "witness" or "victim" of sexual harassment. With the latter in particular, you'd think you'd take steps to avoid victimization again rather than potentially add to that feeling.

Blakely appeared more ill at ease in parts than I thought he'd be considering he's the case agent and is privy to all the testimony unlike most witnesses in court proceedings. Two areas in particular, the one where he explained how the chain of command in the Spring of 2010 didn't include the acting chief or the "invisible" chief and also when Nakamura's attorney tried to do some comparative analysis on comparing what Blakely said started as a sexual harassment investigation with others of that nature that had been done by the department. As recently as 2012 which wasn't a good year for them, and Nakamura's attorney asked if other victims of sexual harassment hadn't been notified ahead of time for interviews, or whether her treatment was an anomaly.  He's probably smart enough to know when he's being set up for a fall on the witness stand but couldn't do much about it.

Then the city's attorney voiced an objection arguing relevance which made it seem all the more like the department's handling of the "sexual harassment" investigation involving Nakamura wasn't like any past similar cases including the one alleged in 2012. 

Blakely returns on the stand tomorrow for some more direct and then he gets "cross-examined" by his own attorney and so forth. On his tail comes DeSantis who's set to testify in the afternoon session.







RPD's Administrative Headquarters
 
Scene of a power struggle?









RPD Officer Neely Nakamura (l.) getting an award with two colleagues for a business awareness conference 







The medically retired ex-deputy chief will be testifying at the trial
 
 






Will Deputy Chief Mike Blakely be hitting the witness stand and if so what will he have to say?


Witness and Case Agent for the City






And what of former Asst. and Acting Chief John DeLaRosa, will this blast from the past be on the witness test as well to provide his account of events?

Not on the Witness List but Acting Chief and head of Internal Affairs




The former Police Chief Russ Leach is also scheduled to testify.

Witness and former police chief



 



 Yes the former assistant city manager who wanted to be police chief will hit the stand.


Witness and ex-Defacto Police Chief



Current Police Chief Sergio Diaz

Not a witness but no doubt celebrating an RPD lawsuit finally making it to trial.


To Be Continued...



Deputy Chief Mike Blakely seemed much less nervous during his second day of testimony at the trial particularly when the city's attorneys used him as an "expert" witness on the policies and procedures of the Internal Affairs Division including internal investigations.  He testified that Nakamura was given only a written reprimand for her policy violations for several reasons, one of them being that he didn't want to chill the reporting of sexual harassment by victims of it.  That she'd been honest about the conduct and that was to be commended. That the written reprimand would remain permanently in her file in case there was another instance of similar violations in the future.

But even before Blakely hit the witness stand again, both lawyers had a disagreement about the scope of questioning for former Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis who would be testifying that afternoon. Mainly whether or not he could be questioned about his affair with a subordinate city employee that allegedly occurred in 2010.   Obviously the city's own attorneys said no, that it had no relevance even though it seems more than ironic that having the fate of Nakamura decided by someone who'd himself allegedly had an in the workplace affair with his subordinate employee was very palpable in the courtroom.

Taylor ruled tentatively against the admissibility which he later formalized though he told Nakamura's attorneys that if DeSantis said anything that might open the door...then he could bring it up in questioning as long as they side barred it first.




 
 
"I'm extremely concerned about Time Card Fraud."
 
Oh really, Mr. DeSantis?




DeSantis did hit the stand and proved to be calm during most of his time on the stand though he got edgy towards the end. He said that when Esquival came to see him with Cook in tow, that he had said that he was planning on retiring or resigning and then the conversation became more along the lines of how to ensure that he did it all the way down to retirement parties with the dignity and respectability afforded a veteran police management employee. It seemed ironic that though Esquival was viewed as the employee with the most responsibility or blame in the situation according to Blakely and DeSantis had more associations in their respective testimonies especially that of DeSantis with allowing or ensuring for dignity and respect in how they were treated.

But DeSantis kept saying that his greatest concern in the whole situation was whether or not there had been fraud committed by Nakamura and Esquivel in the form of Time Card Fraud.  He mentioned that at least a half a dozen times under oath and Nakamura's attorney didn't act on it.  The city's attorneys including the lead counsel were sitting there just waiting for him to do that and yet he didn't because there was enough information on DeSantis' situation to at least consider that if he had his affair with his subordinate on city time then he might have been guilty of that type of fraud as well.

The most telling moment was when Nakamura's attorney ended his re-direct questioning and then the city's junior attorney hesitated when asked if she had any more questions as everyone waited for her answer. She glanced briefly at the senior attorney and then said no, which effectively removed DeSantis from the witness stand.

Next up is former Deputy Chief Pete Esquivel who will be testifying in the morning. It remains still to be seen which one will show up.   After him there will be former Chief Russ Leach and the trio of employees who may or may not avoid being set up as the fall guys.

A familiar pattern and practice in the RPD.















































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