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


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Location: RiverCity, Inland Empire

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

River City's Own House of Cards Begins to Fall


Immediately after his Skelly hearing, Acting Chief John DeLaRosa through an investigation conducted by Capt. Mike Blakely fires Det. Chris Lanzillo.

An interesting development given that DeLaRosa was able to retire to most likely avoid disciplinary action in connection with his actions during the Feb. 8 DUI stop where what should have been an investigation of criminal conduct was averted.

Let's see...

Lt. Leon Phillips----notice to terminate after thrown under the bus by RPD management

Det. Chris Lanzillo-------terminated within months of confronting DeLaRosa in roll call

DeLaRosa: Retired, no disciplinary action taken

Russ Leach: Medical retired after criminal DUI conviction, no disciplinary action taken.


City Manager Brad Hudson Denies request by Det. Chris Lanzillo to postpone Skelly hearing and have Acting Chief John DeLaRosa removed from hearing it when it takes place this afternoon.


New Riverside Police Chief is....

Sergio Diaz

"Sergio is extremely highly educated, well respected and has a command presence. But he isn't the first guy in the class to raise his hand just to draw attention to himself."

---Former LAPD Chief William Bratton after promoting him to deputy chief

Official Bio of new chief here.

His intent to seek the LAPD chief position and his rise up the chain of command there after May Day 2007.

Tension with the Gay and Lesbian Communities?

Part of a shakeup of assignments in the LAPD.

He will on display, Tuesday, June 15 at 5:30 pm.
on the Seventh Floor at City Hall


FBI agents lock down Upland City Hall to seize records


Acting Chief John DeLaRosa Retires!

From: De La Rosa, John
Sent: Thursday, June 10, 2010 11:05 AM
To: Loveridge, Ron; Gardner, Mike; Melendrez, Andy; Bailey, Rusty; Davis, Paul; MacArthur, Chris; Hart, Nancy; Adams, Steve
Cc: Hudson, Brad; DeSantis, Tom
Subject: Pending retirement

It has been a distinct honor to serve the City of Riverside as a member of its Police Department since February 1, 1980. The opportunities to interact with members of our community, and the men and women of this fine Department, have enriched my professional life far beyond what I could have ever imagined.

Throughout my 33-year law enforcement career, I have been faced with making countless decisions, including some which were matters of life and death. I have done my level best to proceed in a thoughtful, straightforward manner which recognizes my responsibility to the community, my Department and the individuals involved. I have always taken responsibility for the outcomes of my decisions.

In the early morning hours of February 8th, however, I made a wrong decision. As I have expressed from the very onset of this situation, I accept full responsibility for not responding to the scene where our Officers stopped the former Chief, and for not asking more probing questions of the on-duty Watch Commander. I also recognize that I should have done more than urge the former Chief to notify the City Manager’s Office regarding this incident; I should have made this notification myself.

Most importantly, I recognize that the improper decisions I made in response to this incident have impacted the public trust that I have worked diligently to forge throughout my public service career. To the men and women of the Riverside Police Department, City leadership and our community, I am sorry.

I remain profoundly grateful for my experiences in service to our City and its residents over my decades with RPD, and am proud to have been able to assist with the Department’s transition to its next chapter under the leadership of the newly selected Chief. My family and I are very much looking forward to my retirement on July 23, 2010, and I know that our community will continue to be well served by the men and women of the Riverside Police Department.

John DeLaRosa

Acting Chief of Police

Riverside Police Department

(951) 826-5522


The Search for a New Chief...down to two...

Are they former RPD, Mike Smith and LAPD's Sergio Diaz?

Stay tuned...

As a retired police officer I am embarassed beyond all imagination. Corruption in this city let alone the police dept. is at an epidemic stage. I though the oil rig gushing oil was bad. This is completly out of control. The entire city management, City council, Asst. chief Delarosa, (who would sell out his mother to get ahead) should all resign. If they dont, fire em. This is Chicago Politics from the 60's and 70's. Thank god for guys like Tim Bacon and Darryl Hurt. Without them this would all be still going on. If you hire Mike Smith it will continue, he is an old crony of the above mentioned. Sheriff Sniff, take over will ya! I would love to sign this but I still have kids working in the dept. And we all know payback can be a biatch. Thank god I retired when I did. Sonny Richardson.......I love you!

------Guest at

This Post is Dedicated to Yolanda Garland, a tireless activist for Change

Now in a much better place.

R.I. P. and We Miss You.

This Blog also welcomes readers from the California Highway Patrol, the County of San Bernardino and the City of Pasadena as well as the Department of Justice

Whose Hall of Shame?

"San Bernardino County is laughing at us."

----Commenter at

"This is an amazing story - they all contradict each other."


This building that bears this sign used to belong to the residents of Riverside but in recent years, the city council and mayor had tried to change the "conduct" codes to be enforced against city residents while they were allowed to act out on the dais antagonizing speakers and call them names. They were allowed through City Attorney Gregory Priamos to send letters to speakers they found disruptive or even those they didn't like and those missives were CCed to Leach's office. Many names were used like "gadfly"(which is only considered an insult by elected officials and overpriced political consultants, imagine that) and people like Councilman
Steve Adams who's one of the feature stars of the latest revelations coming out of City hall, loved to demean speakers.

At least now we all know why.

Adams once told me I was a "dog and pony show" and "grandstanding" when I had been civil and polite and he insulted other speakers while on the dais though these days, when public comment rolls around, Adams rolls right out of his chair and disappears behind the curtain for a while. I guess actually sitting and listening to city residents rather than developers and others in his own crowd is just too strenuous and too much for him to handle as an elected representative. But for several years, that's what going to city council meetings was all about. It was to speak up on issues not much unrelated to what's unfolding now and then to smile and wait for the commentaries from individuals like Adams and his former dais mates, Dom Betro and Frank Schiavone. Because their enforcement of the city council conduct code which was backed by the city attorney's office allowed them to behave like that. By allowing it to go unchecked, both Betro and Schiavone saw themselves voted out of office and Adams held onto his by a fingernail.

Okay maybe now, it's half a fingernail.

But Adams could be forgiven because court records revealed that on the very same day he blew up at me, he had been deposed for the lawsuit filed by two former Riverside Police Department lieutenants recently settled by the city. So anger which clearly came from elsewhere was aimed at me because even though he's an elected representative, he felt entitled to do that. Just like he and his dais mates feel entitled to do many things as we have seen in what's been unfolding in the past weeks in connection with the Leach incident and what led up to it.

There's been some talk about whether or not the fabric of the city's being destroyed by the continuation of the focus of what's erupted in the weeks and months since the Feb. 8 incident but again, it's not the fault of those outside the halls of power in this city if they're rotting from the inside out and it looks more and more as if that's the case. Look at the city like a boil that's been festering and storing up pus for a long time, under increasing pressure and inflammation and then when that boil starts to erupt, it erupts and all this diseased fluid comes out of it, usually with a big stench attached if it's on a large animal for example. But when that boil erupts, the body starts to heal itself and the impacted tissue that was infected.

But it can't do without that eruption.

What's going on right now by the public isn't the problem and it's not going to destroy the city, because what caused the chaos that's taking place now comes straight out of the decision making at City Hall and the very questionable actions done there by those who took things like power and trust and abused both. People in this city are angry and they have a right to be. There's plenty right now for them to be angry at and there's more to come because this boil has just begun to spill its infected material after all.

Hiding from the truth or hiding it has never changed it and that's what apologists for the city are doing when they say forget about this, move on (even while the city itself sinks itself further in the mud) when they should just turn to the city and say stop engaging in corrupt and illegal behavior. For those who ask us why we don't want to be part of the City Hall political structure who receive exclusive invites to be part of it, everything that's coming out is why we don't.

Those at the highest levels of City Hall might have an overinflated sense of their importance but most city residents right now, much more than 50 anyway, are looking at City Hall and the police department as both needing to be cleaned out and both needing to be investigated by outside federal or state agencies. That's a pretty strong sentiment that's going around right now.

Who wants to be part of an "in club" or hob nob with people over over-priced food at city-sponsored events with high price tags when what these people are doing to this city and its residents and its employees is so wrong and in fact, more likely to destroy it than those who have had enough of it. Do you think it's fun for city residents watch a police department that's undergone arduous years of reform at the cost of $26 million be so misused by city management and city officials that it's pretty much in shambles at this point? A very costly reform effort undermined by greed and opportunism originating at City Hall then permeating at the highest levels of the police department like a virus gone amok.

And it took the city, what just four years to do this and the city council and mayor had front row seats (and some clearly more than that) allowing it to happen and then gushing praise on the employee largely responsible for the mess now?

Because where's it written in the city charter that city management employees can deck themselves up like officers and run around playing cop, or code enforcement officer or whatever? And that's what Hudson and DeSantis have clearly been doing and the results of five years of playing that game are now in front of us for everyone to gawk at as if they're driving past a really bad wreck. Paying the price are over 600 police employees and the city's residents, in ways that those in charge have shielded themselves from exposure themselves.

What the department needs is a chief that can start putting it back together again as part of an effort among the co-partners of public safety but what it will get, unfortunately is that unless the city government steps to the plate for once and city residents get more engaged, will just be more of what it's already seen under Hudson and DeSantis' watch. And we've all had seats to see how that worked out.

The city management employees were entrusted to oversee the police chief and they're more preoccupied with micromanaging the department and stocking themselves with its "toys" so they can run around and pretend they're police officers. The best answer to that and it usually comes up around contract negotiation times for police officers is to hand them an application and go tell them to sign up to try out for police positions and if they get hired and want to be chief, work their way up the ladder from the bottom.

But before all this blew up in the city's face, there was plenty of warning of what was to come, going back at least five years and perhaps longer than that.

A Harbinger of What Was To Come?

This correspondence was sent to Mayor and City Council members who were in power in December 2005 before they were to vote on then Chief Russ Leach's first five-year contract. The investigations which this email refers to coincide exactly with the investigations conducted by the State Attorney General's criminal division which were detailed in the Press Enterprise article and on this blog.

From: Concerned Former Police Department Employee

To: Riverside City Council & Mayor

Subject: Chief Leach’s Contract Extension

I recently learned that Chief Leach’s contract is due to be discussed on December 20, 2005. An extension of this length would be a travesty and a mistake that would thrust the City of Riverside and its police department back into an embarrassing and dreadful situation. Chief Leach has done all he can do for the City and should retire. You see, many present and formers employees of the department know what Chief Leach is - and it’s not a Leader.

Over the more than five years that he has been Chief, he has committed acts of malfeasance, and in some cases unlawfulness; has failed to develop leaders capable of leading the department into the future, in spite of the fact that he has promoted the majority of his command and executive staff; has lied and spread rumors about members of the department, has lied to and spread rumors about public officials, including some of you; has caused dissention and dysfunction throughout the ranks; has engaged in unethical conduct unbecoming of a Chief, and has promoted based on favors and friendships rather than merit. Factual examples of these allegations can be provided by any number of members-past and present- of the department should the need arise.

The only reason why many members have avoided and ignored his behavior, is due to the fact that the City and the police department have been through a lot in the past years, and stirring up another controversy would not be in the best interest of the City. However, an extension of Chief Leach’s contract would almost certainly trigger public disclosure of incidents and behavior that would expose the City to further scrutiny by the Attorney General, Media, Grand Jury and other interested constituents in your respective Wards.

Please, Please, do right by the members of the Riverside Police Department who have endured so much in these past years ; Let Chief Leach find another job – I’m sure he’s still marketable. And hire a Leader with some Ethics and Values.

This letter was submitted not long before the city council meeting where the contract was passed through vote and it's more than likely that because of that, there was no investigation conducted by Hudson although this email makes his statements of being clueless about what was going on with one of his department heads sound even less convincing than usual. When that missive was sent to the city government, a lot was actually going on behind the scenes, what with badges to make, guns to vend and cars with sirens of course, to cold plate. Not to mention a promotion to approve here, and one to veto there. All this activity of course was kept secret from the city's residents unless anyone can recall receiving the press release that detailed how Hudson and Asst. Chief Tom DeSantis along with former employee, Michael Beck destroyed their badges upon order by the State Attorney General's office.

It's not clear what the city council's reaction to all this behind the scenes intrigue was involving the city management employee they raved about to the press. And some of them then and now continued to do that even after knowing about the whole badges, guns and undetectable plates deal. But it would make absolutely no sense for Hudson or DeSantis to investigate these allegations against Leach raised in this 2005 missive because any investigation would lead back to them, to the misuse of cold plates, problematic gun permits and sales and how management level promotions were apparently bought and sold in the police department. Who wants to put themselves in that position and then have to come up with a way to get out of it?

So, no investigation to be done here. But even as this decision was clearly made by city management and not followed up by the city council which of course even back then, deferred most of its responsibilities as leaders to Hudson, the behavior apparently continued, rooting itself in City Hall and inside the police department. And the problems of course spread, creating the mayhem that would erupt years later.

Occasionally I get asked the question, why do I blog and why about Riverside, because after all the really interesting intrigue and scandals are taking place in that other county, San Bernardino which is indeed a nest of corruption. What can you say, but then what someone told me once is that Riverside is San Bernardino with more layers. This week, I realized what this person really meant with all the intrigue breaking this week and all the disgraceful conduct by high ranking police management employees, city management and elected officials which is coming to life, like a stack of dominoes with one falling right after the other. But these aren't isolated incidents because those dominoes were standing there for a long time.

Let's see city management and city officials decking themselves out like police officers with shiny badges, cold plated vehicles, police emergency equipment and even buying their handguns at the police department after securing their concealed and carry warrants. Their excuse so they can play police (or code enforcement officer) under their capacity in management positions, in a city that believe it or not already has both a police department and a code enforcement division to handle those duties. Anyone on the dais who buys that excuse for engaging in the illegal use of police badges deserves to be voted out of office, but you see no one really did because if they had, they would have pushed for the lawsuit from which this wealth of questionable conduct arose all the way to trial. But no, the city government opted to settle it in hopes that all this information that one councilman implicated in it, dismissed as old news would actually be "buried" news. So they didn't buy Hudson's excuses, but they bought into him.

Okay so let's move on...

High ranking police management employees promoted and given pay hikes in an "acting" capacity even after they've been implicated in the mishandling of the DUI incident and its attempted cover up. Chiefs facing disciplinary action themselves imposing discipline on others including termination on employees who sued them. And a recent very vigorous arrest of a key player in the Leach incident on old misdemeanor warrants by Moreno Valley Police Department officers, a city with some very interesting connections between the Sheriff's Department (which staffs the MVPD) and some people in high places with connections to other people who used to be in high places but are no more. Politics indeed is and has always been very incestuous in Riverside County, as much so as its neighbor in San Bernardino.

But anyway, back in Riverside, city residents are in an uproar over the continued unfolding of City Hall's dirty laundry when it comes to how it handles the Riverside Police Department.

While those elected to positions at City Hall do what some of them do best and that's remain silent.

A Vacuum of Leadership on the Dais?

[Mayor Ron Loveridge, Councilman Steve Adams and City Attorney participating in of all capacities, part of the arbitration body which oversees the handling and disposition of Ethics complaints including those filed against elected officials. The irony of that flowed richly today. ]

And that's the real problem is that there's a dearth of leadership from City Hall because the elected body that's supposed to serve as the representative leadership instead farmed all of its accountability mechanisms to its city management. Let's see, the council allowed the city management to take over the previously separate Finance Department. It voted to minimize its involvement in inter-fund transfers in the middle of the brouhaha about the city's use of its sewer fund as an ATM machine. The city government pretty much disbanded its Finance Committee which only meets when it faces pressure and then gets packed back up in mothballs again. And what's really scary is that the city government, the people's government (one would hope) farmed all these accountability and transparency mechanisms away just before and even during the launch of Riverside Renaissance. When a city launches a series of capital projects in a short period of time with multiple contracts and even greater number of change orders going out on projects, this is the time for greater oversight not less or really no oversight. That can lead to trouble if left unchecked and unaccounted for over time.

But the majority of the city council still seems content to keep giving its accountability mechanisms away to city management even after clearly seeing or they should have been seeing signs of trouble ahead.

I read with interest the news article that the Press Enterprise wrote on badges, guns and cold plates and have been writing posts and working on more postings about what's been going on at City Hall involving the micromanagement of the Riverside Police Department by City Hall. There's been some coverage of that scandal on this blog already and there's plenty more to come.

All I Ever Wanted was to Be a Police Chief...

Shall we just call him, Police Chief Brad Hudson?

Hudson's badge before it was ordered destroyed

[City Manager Brad Hudson (center) during more peaceful times before it came to light that the State Attorney General's office launched multiple investigations into alleged violations in relation to the city management's handling of the police department and its resources.]

And then We Have Chief #2

Badge issued to Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis before it was ordered destroyed

[Asst. City Manager Tom DeSantis who's now apparently been given Leach's notorious Black Chrysler 300 to speed around in was tied up to a controversial incident where he allegedly pulled a gun and threatened a woman in a parking lot in Hemet. Nobody can seem to locate the police report filed by the Riverside County Sheriff's Department in relation to the incident.]

Police Chief #3

[Councilman Steve Adams who had his vehicle cold plated in violation of the law dismissed the allegations which have arisen as ancient history. What Adams doesn't say is that the reason they're "history" to him if not everyone else including those he represents is because for years this scandalous and illegal conduct remained a secret. The reason why it wasn't "buried" news was because people risked retaliation to expose it. ]

Excuses, Excuses

When it came to trying to get down to the bottom of why they had their cars plated, all the key players in this latest River City scandal naturally had different recollections. Leach said that the fleet operators had requested it, in his deposition but there was indications that he had been concerned about the legality of what the city was asking. He said the department didn't authorize which conflicted with DeSantis' own testimony that the chief did authorize it.

And the contradictions only continued.

Hudson, in his January deposition, said he was not aware of issues involving the city manager's office and cold-plated vehicles. He said he didn't think his car had been cold-plated in the past.

In the interview Friday, Hudson and DeSantis said that the cold plates were on police vehicles that had been moved to a motor pool used by the council and city manager's office. DeSantis said the Police Department wanted the flexibility to move cars between the police fleet and civilian fleet.

Adams, in a separate interview the same day, said the council members used vehicles that had too many miles to be used for police work. He said it takes months for the state Department of Motor Vehicles to issue normal license plates for such cars. The DMV confirmed that the process can take months.

Beck, reached by phone on Tuesday, said that cold plates were put on used vehicles acquired from local dealerships for him, Hudson and DeSantis. The vehicles were purchased after the city started assigning cars to the administrators rather than giving them a car allowance.

Hudson received a Toyota Highlander; DeSantis, a Mercury Grand Marquis; and Beck, a Ford Crown Victoria, Beck recalled.

"The plates came from the Police Department," Beck said. "My recollection is that the idea came from the chief." He said he didn't know why he and the other the administrators were given cold plates.

It's odd that different excuses are provided by DeSantis and Adams but then they pale when compared to yet another effort by Hudson to plead ignorance about what's going on in his watch. The only people who will probably buy his response that he knew absolutely nothing about the cold plating situation is maybe some of the elected officials who employ him. But there's a lot of skepticism about his response already from people with apparently much better critical thinking skills and frankly, common sense. They might just take that skepticism to the polls next spring.

It's absolutely laughable once again that Hudson is totally in the dark on an issue that had brought in the State Attorney General's office to look specifically at his own employees and which his department head, Leach would have been required to report to him given the extensive written communications between Leach and the investigator from the State Attorney General's office. And certainly at some point, DeSantis who admitted knowing about it would have clued his boss in about something this serious like an "inquiry" from the state's prosecutory office, right?

But then maybe Hudson's city-issued cell phone was turned off at the time.

[One page of one of the different communications that took place between then Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach and the investigator assigned from the State Attorney General's criminal division to "inquire" on allegations of an illegal gun sale and the creation of illegal badges. The same investigator also looked into the cold plate violations. Quite a few trees died to document these correspondences. ]

DeSantis talks about "flexibility" for cars which move from the city to police fleet or vice versa while Adams said that the cars used by officials had too many miles to be used by the police department which pretty much kills DeSantis' excuse. But then that's par for the course with this crew, when it comes to contradictions of statements. They all just cancel each other out.

It's interesting that Adams' excuse for getting cold plates is that it takes months to get normal plates for those cars but in the CHP investigative report involving Leach, it was said that Leach's car had no license plates at all because he was awaiting cold plates which would take up to a year to receive. So which is it, and why all the contradictions from people who are supposed to be telling the truth, certainly while under oath for a deposition in relation to a civil action.

DeSantis tried to hit a home run with his addition to the judicial record while under oath.


"When that violation of procedure was brought to our attention, we recognized that it was better to comply with the law," he testified.

So okay, the city manager's office didn't check ahead of time that their actions wouldn't violate any laws before they ran off and did them? Though it's great that when the heat was turned on them, that's when they decided that it was better to comply with the law. Better late than never, you can guess. But if this doesn't come up in the city council's next evaluation of Hudson, then these bosses are negligent.

But then what comes next is an action that is truly becoming a well worn pattern and practice in the city management, which after all is supposed to run the city and it's taken that power and run with it, away from a pretty passive city government that behaves like an overly permissive parent.

What Hudson and DeSantis do time and time again, and there's plenty of sworn testimony from both of them and others on the record to delineate this pattern of behavior is that they never, ever take responsibility for anything. Some one else or one of their own departments did it to them or for them and they had nothing to do with it, or better yet knew nothing about it.

This happens with all three legal violations. It's either the police chief (cold plates), police department (gun sale) or the Community Development Department (faux badges) that's put them in this terrible, terrible situation. And the city government no doubt patted them on the heads and said "there, there" after finding out about it, probably before they voted against all this behavior the poor city management was pushed into or told to do by its own subordinates so that the city's residents would never, ever find out about it.

Of course, as we all know know, the city did try to do that indeed but it failed. Everything's coming out anyway, because it's all been trapped inside a festering boil for a long time, but all boils eventually erupt.

City Management 101

When caught with your hand in the cookie jar, say the cookie jar made me do it.

Meet Plausible Deniability

"I did it because [insert city department head] told me to!"

"I didn't know anything about it."

"I didn't know [insert department head] had any prior incidents."

"My cell phone was turned off all day."

"I can't reveal this due to attorney/client privilege."

(oops, wait wrong direct employee)

The second lesson that city management in Riverside learns after being absolutely sure to turn off your cell phone during the city's most turbulent days is to deny plausibility and pass the buck to a subordinate under your own management. Of course many people know that all this does is emphasize what incredibly poor management skills that those who engage in this behavior

But there's more to come as there's more to come out in the city that never sleeps when it comes to engaging in entertaining the public with the exploits behind the closed doors of City Hall.

Key Figure in Leach incident Arrested after Anonymous Tip

Michelle Wilson Padilla was arrested on misdemeanor warrants. According to sources, she was arrested at a house at around 10:15 p.m. on June 8 by Moreno Valley Police Department deputies on several misdemeanor arrest warrants. The deputy asked her to step out of the house and then arrested her. She was later held on $17,000 bail. The arrest was based on an anonymous tip.

Moreno Valley Police Department officers are said to be so strapped in terms of being very busy so that they don't have the time to usually deal with misdemeanor warrants and the time of night that the warrants were enforced by the department has raised more than a few eyebrows.

Padilla made allegations that former Riverside Councilman Frank Schiavone coached her on her statements to California Highway Patrol investigators and she appeared to recant her allegations in a taped phone call with Schiavone that he provided for the media. But the arrest of Padilla in a manner that's rarely done with people by law enforcement as most people with misdemeanor warrants have them enforced when they cross paths with officers, i.e during traffic stops rather than having them show up at their house late at night. At least one of the warrants for a DUI was dated back to May 18.

Another chapter unfolding in what may turn out to be one of the most turbulent years ever in the All American City. The Green City of Arts, Culture and Innovation could very well find itself the star of a reality show before year's end.

Changing of the Guard?

[The new Riverside County District Attorney's office is too large to fit into the camera lens so I just photographed its most distinguished part of Pacheco's Palace---The Dome. And how's this for trivia, when they constructed the building, it blocked the AT&T FREE Wi If internet signal from City Hall to a large portion of the Eastside so they had to move most of the network's access points in response. ]

Newly elected Riverside County District Attorney Paul Zellerbach plans his transition. People aren't quite celebrating in the streets but they are celebrating including many people in his own office.

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