By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
•Rackauckas had no experience handling consumer-fraud prosecutions, but that didn't stop him from rescuing Newport Beach billionaire George Argyros in his struggle with the DA's prosecutors. Without explanation, Rackauckas met privately with Argyros' attorneys and then overruled his staff's position that his political benefactor had personally directed the massive fraud scheme against approximately 11,000 local Vietnamese and Latino apartment tenants. The shakedown allegedly netted Argyros more than $33 million during a three-year period. The grand jury ruled that the DA had "not paid proper attention to a possible appearance of impropriety" in the matter and should not have been privately negotiating with his powerful friend.
•The DA created and refused to disclose information about a partially taxpayer-funded "charitable" foundation that glorified Rackauckas while giving official-looking law enforcement badges to Di Carlo and other businessmen who contributed money.
In any other major metropolitan area, a carefully researched and well-written 100-page rebuke of the DA's ethics might spark a public backlash or prompt an apology or resignation. But this is Orange County and—though the last grand jury did its job—there is no guarantee that any other legal body will do theirs.
Initially embarrassed by the report, Rackauckas' arrogance and claims of invincibility seem to grow each passing day. In a June 27 memo to staff, the DA was upbeat, confident and "proud of this administration's accomplishments."
Meanwhile, there are sure to be dedicated, law-abiding local prosecutors who are biting their tongues and have yet to come forward in public about Rackauckas' abuse of authority. We know because the grand jury also issued an ominous warning: "Of great concern to the grand jury were those deputy district attorneys and even members of the [DA's] management team that expressed fear of retaliation should the confidentiality of their testimony be violated."
Alarms should go off when good prosecutors fear their own boss.