By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
By Charles Lam
We Don't Need No Stinking Badges
Vanishing ethical impurities, bad math and more
For years, I heard a constant refrain: Sheriff Mike Carona is a decent guy betrayed by scumbags with whom he naively chose to associate. Then Carona got indicted on public corruption charges by the feds, and the new line became "Yep, Carona and his associate scumbags were dirty, but their dirty deeds were an anomaly." An Orange County cop puts on the uniform, and voila!—all ethical impurities vanish, according to conventional wisdom.
Reporting regularly on crime, I know that most cops are decent, honest folks. But let's not continue to fool ourselves. The OC policing community isn't as clean as we'd hope. Local law-enforcement officers have been tied to the following acts: kidnapping, rape, bribery, burglary, sexual assault, income-tax evasion, falsifying official reports, illegal campaign-contribution schemes, witness tampering, serial pedophilia, misuse of authority, obstruction of justice, employment of prostitutes, assault, associating with organized-crime hoodlums, making criminal threats, narcotics trafficking and evidence planting.
Some of you think I've exaggerated the mess, or that I've had to reach deep into the annals of history to compile such a list. In fact, it's all recent—in the past two years or so.
Of course, the Orange County Sheriff's Department has been ground zero for many of the scandals, thanks to Carona. But, sadly, something also stinks at the local California Highway Patrol's offices. Contrary to the aw-shucks fictional fellows portrayed on the 1970s TV show CHiPs, consider:
• Joshua Wendall Blackburn, a veteran CHP officer, faces trial for burglary and possession for the sale of more than 40 kilograms of cocaine worth at least $1.5 million on the street.
• Robert Steven Deck, a lieutenant in the CHP's San Juan Capistrano office, was planning to have sex with a fictitious 12-year-old girl during an undercover pedophile sting in Laguna Beach, according to prosecutors; his trial is upcoming.
If that weren't enough, we learned last week that Steve Unland, another CHP veteran in OC, faces a civil trial after an agency investigation concluded he "inappropriately searched [a female motorist near the 405 freeway], detained [her] for an excessive period of time and made inappropriate sexual comments."
CHP Captain Andy Sechrist said he's "always concerned" about allegations against his officers.
"The California Highway Patrol has a very good reputation," Sechrist told me. "We're known worldwide for our strong ethical values, and so, we take [professional conduct] very seriously. . . . Of course, we certainly don't want some situations to happen twice."
Attorney Gloria Allred must be smiling. Late last month, the California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana decided a bizarre child-support case involving two former OCSD employees who had been married. The justices noted that Yvette E. Bardzik retired as a jail deputy after 20 years at the age of 42 and a monthly taxpayer-funded income of $7,325.
Let's see. Subtract the six. Carry the one. Yep.
Yvette got to retire 23 years before the rest of us. Must be nice. But generous public-employee compensation isn't the focus of this story.
The appellate case hinged on a point the justices noted they'd never seen before: Jeffrey D. Bardzik, Yvette's husband until 1994 and a deputy until he didn't obey the Carona machine—his lawsuit against the indicted ex-sheriff is still pending—had full custody of one of the couple's teenage children and 50-50 custody of a second one. Yet a superior court judge had forced Jeff to pay Yvette $388 per month in child support. In addition, Yvette kept the $1,000 the state sent the couple every month for the adopted child in Jeff's custody.
Jeff did some figuring himself and concluded that he was entitled to the state funds; he shouldn't have to pay Yvette anything. Indeed, she should be forking over $742 every month to him. He asked the appellate court for help.
On July 25, a three-justice panel said nope. Jeff hadn't legally proven to their satisfaction that Yvette was unfairly enriching herself. The justices offered oddly philosophical remarks.
"Just as every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," they wrote, "every divorce has its own backstory. . . . This couple has been fighting a lot [their emphasis] since their divorce in the 1990s."
Onetime Taliban pal Congressman Dana Rohrabacher likes to rant about the evils of communist China, but in June, he accepted three contributions totaling $4,000 from Hang Up Moon. (That name isn't a misprint.) Federal Election Commission records show that Moon lists himself as president of Tridus International Inc., an industrial manufacturer. Tridus, which partners with the communists, has operations in China and also lobbies the U.S. government.
For example, federal spending records reviewed by the Weekly show that in 2003, Congress gave the company $315,000 in taxpayer funds. Moon and his corporate colleague, Bong D. Lee, have returned the favor by contributing more than $28,000 in recent years to Republican Party committees and candidates.
None of this should come as a surprise. More than a year ago, I revealed that Rohrabacher—holier-than-thou when it suits his purposes—took $500 from Philip D. Harvey, owner of a major pornography studio and a sexual-device store, as well as an advocate for prostitutes in Third World countries such as Vietnam (see "Dana and the Porn King," April 5, 2007). In 1998, I exposed the congressman for simultaneously denouncing abortion while accepting contributions from Dr. Edward Allred, one of the nation's most prolific abortion doctors (see "The Abortionist Who Funds Pro-Life Republicans," July 3, 1998).