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
If not for a passerby who saw the accident and called police, Wersching's supervisors might never have found out what happened. He received a 60-hour suspension for improper conduct, failing to report acts of misconduct and violating the law. More than a year later, on Jan. 20, 2001, HBPD investigated Wersching again, this time for having grabbed and choked someone by the throat, then punching the person in the chest. At press time, he had been promoted to investigator. MITIGATING FACTOR: Not a child rapist.
4 MIKE CARONA Orange County sheriff
Carona is often portrayed in the local mainstream media as Orange County's Andy Griffith, an egoless lawman who'd rather be eating apple pie than plotting self-serving career moves. This is very funny. Just one question: How does someone slide so deftly from being Democrat Governor Gray Davis' close buddy to the inner circle of Republican Governor-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger? MITIGATING FACTOR: Shares Arnold's love of pumping, uh, iron.
5 SCOTT MCMANUS Anaheim cop
Orange County met McManus in 1997, when a Los Angeles Times reporter quoted him dismissing his threat to illegally enter an apartment and arrest a Latino teenager as "kind of like a bluff." McManus sure likes to bluff. In 1995, he arrested Fernando Ortiz for assault on a police officer, and then roughed him up with such force that the city paid Ortiz $90,000 in damages. Earlier this year, McManus shot Jeffrey Santelli in the Crystal Cathedral parking lot because he thought Santelli—who was talking to his mother—was a gang member. (Santelli is now suing Anaheim for $2 million.) MITIGATING FACTOR: Mother's Day comes but once a year.
6 BRYAN RAY KAZARIAN former OC deputy district attorney
Once the star prosecutor in the gang unit of the Orange County district attorney's office. But his superiors started suspecting something was amiss when it became apparent Kazarian was spending a lot of time with John David Ward, a high-rolling gambler and head of what was then Orange County's largest methamphetamine ring. Kazarian accepted free trips to Las Vegas in exchange for providing Ward with information about investigations involving the drug ring. To catch him in the act, the DA's office created fictitious information about a nonexistent informant in the Ward case to see if Kazarian would leak it. He did. Then they recorded him blabbing about it to Ward. Kazarian pleaded guilty to a single federal drug-trafficking conspiracy charge, testified against Ward (who was convicted on multiple counts of narcotics violations and money laundering and sentenced to life without parole) and was sequestered in an undisclosed prison cell for his own protection. Kazarian was freed from prison in 2002 after spending three years behind bars and, at last word, was trying to win back his license to practice law. MITIGATING FACTOR: Holds the distinction of being the first Orange County prosecutor convicted of a crime in 30 years. FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS! GO CUBS!
7 DON HAIDL assistant sheriff
What better way for a sheriff to understand crime than to hire as assistant sheriff a mysterious, multimillionaire businessman who never finished high school but has a wildly colorful courthouse history including accusations of Mexican gun running and money skimming from government car auctions? MITIGATING FACTOR: Apparently not as bad as his son, who allegedly taped himself and buddies having sex with an unconscious girl (see No. 12)
8 MIKE SCHLISKEY Westminster police commander
When Stacy Tang placed a 911 call on behalf of her 100-pound, drugged-up brother Tuan Thanh Tang in 1999, she assumed paramedics would assist the family. Instead, the paramedics called in the Westminster Police Department; they, in turn, entered the Tang home without permission, ignored their pleas to take Tuan to the hospital, held down the teenager, hog-tied his hands to his feet with nylon straps behind his back, and threw him into the back seat of a police cruiser. When the cruiser arrived at the department, Schliskey found Tuan facedown in the back of the car, still hog-tied and suffocating. Schliskey then strapped Tuan to a metal restraint chair. Less than two hours after the arrest, paramedics found the 19-year-old seizing and convulsing in the chair; he died six days later. Medical records show that Tuan suffered severe oxygen deprivation after the cops took him into custody. Not even a $10 million lawsuit filed by the family has convinced the department to change its deadly restraint policy. MITIGATING FACTOR: All of Westminster is worth just $22,500.
9 CHRISTOPHER NICELY Santa Ana cop
Anyone who has grown up watching cop shows knows about the unwritten code where a cop doesn't rat out his or her partner. So when that happens, you know the cop in question must've fucked up royally. Nicely faces a year in jail and the loss of his badge after his partner, a reserve officer, told superiors that in January Nicely removed the handcuffs from a domestic-violence suspect, punched him in the stomach and pushed him into a man-made lake. "I'm sorry you had to see that unpleasantness," Nicely allegedly told the other officer before informing the woman who was being abused that her boyfriend had an accident and fell in the lake. No arrests were made but in a rare burst of righteousness, the Orange County district attorney's office was, at last report, pressing its case against Nicely. MITIGATING FACTOR: Some guys deserve a punch and a push. Nicely done.