Discrimination Lawsuit Highlights Orange County's Ongoing Struggle With Racism

[Moxley Confidential] Plus, there's murder on the menu, housing contractors violating bookmaking laws and lawmakers booking speeches

Discrimination Lawsuit Highlights Orange County's Ongoing Struggle With Racism
Luke McGarry

Despite our gorgeous beaches, jealousy-inspiring weather, breathtaking cultural diversity and renowned theme parks, Orange County's contributions to world history haven't always been uplifting.

We're ground zero in the embarrassing government failure of privatizing public roads. Over the years, we've produced one of the kookiest, angriest, sex-obsessed, doomsday-anxious, bigoted, political cultures in our nation's annuals. And it wasn't long ago when judges here allowed trial lawyers to blatantly kick non-Caucasians off juries without any pang of guilt.

Our self-styled fiscally conservative county supervisors defied conventional wisdom to drive one of the wealthiest locales on Earth into what was in 1994 the world's largest municipal bankruptcy. And yes, we routinely supply humanity with big-haired, televangelist freak shows of two-faced, money-craving con artists, who—you can't make this up—use church donations to purchase separate, ocean-view, multimillion-dollar mansions in Newport Coast for their dogs.

Thankfully, some of these offenses are becoming distant memories. In the lifespan of this publication, which turned 18 years old last month, Orange County has become a decidedly more open-minded, cosmopolitan environment. For proof of this fact look no further than The Orange County Register. Long the region's most protective guardian of the local establishment and stale notions of yesterday, the Register nowadays makes an effort to sell our turf and populace as hip. Yet, we still see examples of hillbilly backwardness. In Los Alamitos, a white, Republican, elected official celebrated our country's first black president in 2009 by distributing an image of the White House lawn turned into a watermelon patch. A few years later, a white, elected, Republican official in Fullerton emailed other conservative activists a doctored image of Barack Obama and his parents as a family of chimpanzees (hardy har har).

Obama isn't fretting the racists, of course. He's a two-term U.S. president who will live the rest of his life in an elite, pampered cocoon. But as 2014 approaches—nearly a half-century after the enactment of historic, anti-discrimination laws—shouldn't a black woman be able to live her daily life in OC—a place where African-Americans comprise less than 2 percent of the population—free of 1950s, Alabama-style prejudice?

As I first reported on the Weekly's Navel Gazing news blog, the Fair Housing Council of Orange County (FHCOC) this month won a federal consent decree against the ownership/management of Orange Plaza Apartments. The order, signed by U.S. District Court Judge Beverly Reid O'Connell in Los Angeles, is in response to the 2011 experience of Barbara Johnson, an African-American woman who answered a Craigslist ad for a two-bedroom apartment in the city of Orange. After Johnson visited the complex and wanted the unit, management told her it was unavailable.

Three days later, she saw a new ad had been placed for the same property, so she contacted the FHCOC, which sent two undercover "testers" to the complex. A manager told the first tester, an African-American woman, there were no available units. Minutes later, a second tester, this one a white woman, visited and—voila!—was eagerly encouraged to lease a suddenly available unit, according to a 2012 lawsuit filed by FHCOC on Johnson's behalf.

Malcolm Jerome Winer, the owner of the complex, admitted no wrongdoing, but to settle the litigation, he agreed to pay $60,000 to the plaintiffs, post conspicuous anti-discrimination notices at the property and attend fair-housing training once a year for two years.

You can add the Winer case to other recent annual FHCOC courthouse victories. According to records, it has won consent decrees and awards against Kensington Manor Apartments in Garden Grove in 2010 ($50,000 for discriminating against families with children); Sam and Nina Chang, owners of two Buena Park apartment complexes, in 2011 ($70,000 for discriminating against the disabled); and last year against the Monterey Pines Apartments in Tustin ($66,000 for discriminating against families with children).

*    *    *

MURDER ON THE MENU
Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Chou couldn't keep the puzzled smile off her face during an Oct. 11 hearing in which Adelina Cristobal was scheduled to change her plea to guilty for ordering a $6,500 murder of her daughter's boyfriend.

The petite, chained Cristobal, 45 with a face 20 years advanced, appeared with her public defenders and a Spanish translator in U.S. District Court Judge Josephine Staton's Santa Ana courtroom and wanted the benefits of pleading guilty before trial—a reduction in charges and more lenient punishment.

Chou and Cristobal, who refused to sign a formal guilty plea, had agreed to a short factual basis describing the crime, but Staton didn't believe the summary adequately underscored that the defendant—the co-owner of Mar de Oro, a Mexican restaurant in Lawndale—conspired in January to commit murder, wanted the victim told who arranged the hit before the killing, sought cell-phone photographs of the gory aftermath and ordered the corpse made to disappear near Tijuana.

Cristobal repeatedly told Staton she is "guilty," yet when the judge—who wanted to ensure the defendant couldn't later claim her confession didn't involve conspiracy—asked if she'd specifically hired co-defendant Antonio Quevedo to find a hit man, she steadfastly refused to answer.

"Then I won't accept her guilty plea," declared the judge, who observed a Nov. 5 trial had been set and left the bench.

While Chou studied her cell phone, Cristobal huddled with her advisers. Intense discussions ensued, and 21 minutes later, the exasperated defendant, who'd unwittingly hired a wire-wearing, undercover federal agent as the would-be hit man with a $500 down payment, conceded. Staton, who recently dropped her previous last name of Tucker, returned to the courtroom, asked her questions, got answers and ordered a Jan. 24 sentencing.

*    *    *

FIFTY BUCKS ON THE CHARGERS
Pat Fondarella probably won't be taking bets on upcoming sporting contests after federal prosecutors in Orange County filed charges this month claiming the Foothill Ranch resident spent at least the past four years violating anti-bookmaking laws for Coast2Coast Sports, a Costa Rica outfit.

According to the government, Fondarella managed a multiperson phone and website operation that earned at least $60,000 monthly from bets.

The case is on a speed track. On the same day the charges were announced, the 55-year-old housing contractor with ties to Nevada signed a guilty plea. Fondarella faces a maximum punishment of three years in prison and a fine double of the ill-gotten gains at a yet-to-be scheduled sentencing hearing.

*    *    *

CASTRO IS COMING!
U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio), of the identical-twin political duo from Texas, is scheduled to present the keynote speech at Saturday's 19th Annual Harry S Truman awards dinner, the local Democratic Party soiree. Castro's brother, Julian, is the San Antonio mayor who gave a popular performance at the Democrat's last presidential convention. Go and ask Joaquin why he, a Harvard-trained lawyer born five weeks after President Richard M. Nixon resigned following the Watergate scandal, signed off on allowing the National Security Agency unprecedented snooping rights against innocent American citizens. Past keynote speakers include John Kerry, Jerry Brown, Gavin Newsom, Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi. Tickets for the event, held from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Magic Kingdom Ballroom at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, cost $150—or $125, if you're a Young Democrat. For more information, visit www.OCDems.net.

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26 comments
FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

In the 90's when, my parents still got the LA Times, columnist Sandy Banks wrote an article about her own personal experience with racial discrimination in the housing market. More than once she and her husband were told over the phone a house was available for rent only to have the owner pretend not to be home or say the house was no longer available when they showed up to look. Banks is African-American. Coincidence? I think not. Apparently not much has changed except now bigots can hide behind the excuse that it was your credit score that kept you from buying/renting the house you wanted house not the color of your skin.

fratdawgg23
fratdawgg23

Orange County is so friendly and welcoming, especially the festival they held across from an Islamic event a couple yrs ago... oh wait... nope, that was a Hate Fest with local elected officials proudly displaying their gutter roots.

angrysexmachine69
angrysexmachine69

I am Middle Eastern and Asian, and have been discriminated against by a Hispanic landlord...Will Uncle Sugar help me? Probably not...I have a job, and education and pay taxes. I am not "Mexican" enough. :(

Henchy
Henchy

always with the racism...like Tyler said - check the credit and history references. It's not always about race.

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

you know the government punishes companies that run criminal background checks if blacks are are on the list


IN fact right here in CA they either have passed the same law or its going through the process


that will only build more distrust and have people finding new ways to protect themselves ( what you call racism) from those that have built their rep in a negative way


its unfair to the individual but the government is forcing it


If you want equality YOU will have to acknowledge the negatives of your group


BUT THEN THAT WOULD STOP THE PAYDAYS 

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

Lots of legit resentment occurs when a person or group is given favorable status in society over others who have never hurt that person or group


Lots of legit fears are present when people or a group have made it clear that they will sue you or attack you if not spoken to in the exact manner in that they demand


Lots of inner hatred is present in those that "take up the cause" of those that they secretly harbor hate and resent towards. but want to appear to be friendly towards to offset their own shortcomings etc



TylerDurden
TylerDurden

The best thing to do is just check their credit score.  If they have a good credit score, they'll be good renters, regardless of race. 

macdoodle
macdoodle

@angrysexmachine69  Disability issues are hard to prove and win but, never heard of any race case not being looked at, unless its too late.  If you stay mad and don't try  -you will just stay mad. Perhaps, though considering your moniker, that is your goal?

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@angrysexmachine69 Hehehe! U soo funny! One reason Uncle Sugar doesn't come to your rescue is because it's not illegal to discriminate against obnoxious, self-imporatnt assholes. I suggest you launch a campaign to amend the law to protect members of your class. Assholes should be constitutional protected, no? 

macdoodle
macdoodle

@Henchy  LOL It was clear via  professional testers. A black person showed up no opening. Minutes later white one did,   BOOM. Open again. Testers won't have the bad credit you seem to assume people of color might.

kbear09090
kbear09090

@Henchy The testers are familiar with how to set things up so the only variable was race.

macdoodle
macdoodle

@sweetliberty17761776  Hahahahahahaha.  Who told you this whopper?  You got any proof of this unsubstantiated conspiracy theory?  Where is this legislation or proposed law?

kbear09090
kbear09090

@sweetliberty17761776"YOU will have to acknowledge the negatives of your group" Ok, I acknowledge that Libertardians are the dumbest, most racist people on the planet. Ignorant conspiracy theory mongering fools. I saved you the effort.

clickproductions.con
clickproductions.con

But that's profiling according to Harvard sociologists, meaning blacks are exempt from any and all rules because they are American blacks.

angrysexmachine69
angrysexmachine69

@macdoodle @angrysexmachine69 Wrong. One must be a member of a defined "protected class" to really nag the interest of Fair Housing and Employment. Middle Eastern people for example are defined as "white" by the U.S government. Hence, an American born person of Egyptian descent suing a "white" landlord or employer over racial discrimination has no real recourse in suing on a cause of racially motivated bias, due to those federal guidelines. I've personally see n this issue over the last twenty years of my career, and I firmly blame liberals for it.

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

@macdoodle @sweetliberty17761776 



1) so u r saying if true you will rail against the obam admin at the fed level and brown at the state level


2) all u have to do is look it up


u fear the truth and what it does to your "principles"  !!!???!?! :)


go ahead look it up



rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@angrysexmachine69 @rscottmoxley I appreciate your acknowledgement of my amazing legal gifts and so, in return, I'll freely advise you in a non-lawyer capacity that you should continue to hide behind a fake identity so that your boyfriend/family/friends/co-workers/neighbors don't discover your rantings.

rscottmoxley
rscottmoxley topcommenter

@bphood @rscottmoxley @angrysexmachine69  I am going to leave that question to the expert: Mike Carona. Mike? 

 
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