OC Juries Prepare Another Dirty Cop Blowjob?

[Moxley Confidential] Plus: A cheating deputy DA and news that'll make disgraced ex-sheriff Mike Carona jealous

OC Juries Prepare Another Dirty Cop Blowjob?
Luke McGarry

The horrific video recordings of Fullerton police beating Kelly Thomas to death in 2011 prompted some observers to believe the prosecution's case against the three charged cops was a slam-dunk. After all, an unarmed Thomas screamed, "Help me God" 26 times while being battered beyond recognition, and then fell eternally silent. When a December jury sanctioned the killing as lawful cop conduct, residents launched anti-police- brutality protests.

But there was nothing surprising about the Orange County jury's verdicts for Manuel Ramos and Jay Cicinelli. Government uniforms and badges routinely blind our jurors—and not just white, middle- or upper-class housewives and grandpas. In case after case involving questionable law-enforcement actions, juries refuse to believe police officers can lie or use excessive force.

That point was inadvertently underscored during a trial last week inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana. Three Latino cops are suing the Westminster Police Department for alleged illegal racial discrimination in promotions. The plaintiffs claim white police chiefs have handed white cops special-detective assignments that make it easier to win coveted sergeant slots. In comparison, the Latino officers say, they've been given "a path to nowhere": Westminster Mall patrol.

Plaintiffs Jose Flores, Ryan Reyes and Brian Perez assert they've often been the most overlooked but qualified candidates for promotion while enduring racial slurs. Meanwhile, junior white cops they trained won promotions and better assignments, according to Bernard Alexander, who represents the complaining officers. Using charts and statistics, Alexander told jurors that misconduct by white officers had been downplayed, but Latino cops faced nitpicking internal-affairs probes.

Attacking the plaintiff's case, Westminster PD lawyer Melanie M. Poturica released previously unknown information that's almost always shielded from public consumption by California's nefarious Peace Officers' Bill of Rights. Poturica said in her opening statement that a white officer, Jason Stouffer, had been sternly reprimanded for using excessive force during a November 2007 Bolsa Avenue incident. Then-police Chief Andrew Hall suspended Stouffer for 120 hours of pay in the aftermath of the beating of a handcuffed Sonny Rubin, who suffered a broken wrist and facial fractures. According to video evidence, officers also held down Rubin and fired a Taser blast into his groin. Claiming Stouffer and other cops violated his constitutional rights, Rubin sued in federal court.

You might guess that if an officer's conduct outraged a police chief and caused miserly city officials to offer a $101,000 pretrial settlement, a jury—the supposedly neutral group tasked with delivering justice—might also show a modicum of alarm, even in Orange County. To convict defendants in criminal trials, a prosecutor must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. In civil trials, the plaintiff's burden is an easier preponderance of the evidence standard.

Nonetheless, members of the citizens' panel in the Rubin lawsuit couldn't find any evidence of excessive force, and a federal judge, Cormac J. Carney, ordered the victim to pay the police department's legal bills. According to Poturica, the verdict prompted Hall to change his earlier expert opinion. He deleted the reprimand from Stouffer's employee file and reimbursed him for the suspended pay.

This county's cop-fawning, jury-nullification history should delight Anthony Duong Donner, the FBI-arrested Westminster cop who is accused of serving as the enforcer in a Little Saigon loan-sharking operation. While on duty, Donner made threatening phone calls to victims and blasted his patrol-car sirens outside of his victims' businesses in a scheme to win politically connected, Garden Grove businessman Kevin Khanh Tuan Do exorbitant interest rates on loans, according to an FBI report. Do is alleged to have returned the favor by providing Donner free housing in Fountain Valley. The two men are scheduled to face trial later this year.

*     *     *

PROSECUTOR CAUGHT CHEATING
We recently reported on the intense battle between Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders and members of the district attorney's homicide unit over prosecutors' alleged "outrageous government conduct." According to Sanders, the prosecutors are running an illegal jailhouse program designed to secretly circumvent the constitutional rights of charged criminal defendants from self-incrimination and hiding exculpatory evidence (see "OCDA Says You Have the Right to Self-Incrimination," Feb. 20). Dan Wagner—chief of the homicide unit, the man prosecuting Seal Beach mass killer Scott Dekraai and the main target of Sanders' complaint—denies any wrongdoing, a claim under review by Superior Court Judge Thomas M. Goethals.

Now, evidence in a Placentia child-abuse case has emerged that another prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Sandra Nassar, knowingly withheld exculpatory evidence to hamper the defense and win a 12-year prison sentence against the defendant. Nassar—the daughter of a businessman who sold Orange County Sheriff's Department badges in exchange for campaign contributions to Mike Carona—refused to provide the document to defense lawyer Joseph Dane, claiming she assumed he had obtained the exculpatory information on his own. Incredibly, she also tried to justify the ethical lapse by saying her move was part of her "trial strategy."

Goethals, a seasoned former defense lawyer and prosecutor, was not amused. He labeled the record-hiding "malpractice." Veteran City News Service reporter Paul Anderson, who covered the case in-depth, secured the money quotes of the judge lambasting Nassar.

"The excuse that she gave for not giving up this obviously exculpatory material was not a reasonable excuse," Goethals said. "It wasn't even close to a reasonable excuse. . . . I don't know if Miss Nassar doesn't know what the law is. That's no excuse. Ignorance of the law for an experienced prosecutor for engaging in misconduct is not a reasonable excuse either. That was a willful violation."

In coming days, Goethals will turn his attention to Sanders' claims contained in a bombshell, 505-page brief filed earlier this month. He says prosecutors directed the jailhouse informant program to trick Dekraai and another accused killer, Daniel Wozniak, into answering prosecutor questions after they'd hired counsel and invoked their right to not speak to the government. Prominent defense lawyers Kate Corrigan and Kenneth Reed view the prosecutors' alleged conduct as appallingly unethical. Goethals said he considers the accusations "serious" and plans evidentiary hearings to determine the truth.

*     *     *

CARONA DONORS JUMP TO HUTCHENS
Sheriff Sandra Hutchens' latest campaign-finance report reveals interesting tidbits about the nature of politics. First, the report filed at the end of January declaring $98,000 in contributions during the second half of 2013 is a blow to the enormous ego of ex-Sheriff Mike Carona. Serving a 66-month federal prison sentence for corruption, Carona likely remains under the delusion that individuals seeking his friendship were infatuated with him and not his office. He won't be happy to learn that many of his old, wealthy contributors are now riding on Hutchens' bandwagon. That list includes Frederick J. Hanshaw, Dennis D. Assael, Antonio Cagnolo (of Antonello Ristorante), Donna Porter and Irvine Co. executives.

But Hutchens' fund-raising activities also involve government contractors such as American Correctional Solutions Inc., Ware Disposal Inc., April Lopez of Stadium Chiropractic, CH2M Hill Inc., Cofiroute USA Inc., Faubel Public Affairs, Varangians LLC and Gemini Industries Inc.

Why might those businesses give the sheriff money? Maybe they love her smile, wit and management style. Or perhaps their gifts are an unofficial recognition that Hutchens presides over a local agency that spends more than $500 million annually.

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10 comments
gtnoriega554
gtnoriega554

We have good cops and we also have bullies and cowards hiding behind the badge.  The bad apples will continue with their bad behaviour until they are stopped.

g.judd1111
g.judd1111

I hate that jury as much I hate the cops that killed Kelly.  Sad to think 12 people that ignorant live in Orange County.

StanSwitek
StanSwitek

Mox... The HB Police chopper just flew over my house. Figured you are near by. <snicker>

Dweezle
Dweezle

Let me see, You cannot go one hour without seeing a "Cop" show on TV, usually the well intended cops featured will break the rules and get applauded for the violation of a suspects rights. We all expect our cops to be like those on Law & Order or Justified. No one wants to believe their law enforcement is corrupt, but there is never any corruption? We are deluded by media.

Two Fullerton Cops were photographed by many people beating a sick man to death. Yet a jury found them not guilty The DA himself prosecuted the case, and I have read that  surprisingly one of the jurors was a prosecuting attorney. I understand the FBI is in Orange County investigating corruption. but I have read that they are working with the DA, this is a joke, That office seems to be the center of corruption.

jimgilchrist
jimgilchrist

RE:  the frivolous law suit of Sonny Rubin against Westminster P.D.


Because members of the citizens' panel in the Sonny Rubin lawsuit couldn't find any evidence of excessive force by law enforcement it is justified that the Westminster Police Dept. be reimbursed by Rubin for the defensive legal fees the department incurred. 


Westminster police officer Jason Stouffer was also justified in being compensated for the 120 hours of suspended pay wrongly levied against him by the Police Chief as a consequence of Rubin's vengeful and unjustified complaint against the department.  


Officer Stouffer should also be compensated for the insult to his integrity and threat to his job caused by the frivolous law suit brought by Rubin.


Police chiefs too often give a knee-jerk condemning reaction to police officers who have done nothing wrong, just to appease the ditzy complaints that sometimes come from an arrestee.   


Officer Stouffer enforced the law in accordance with his responsibility to do so.  


Jim Gilchrist, Founder and President, The Minuteman Project

Gabriel Madrigal
Gabriel Madrigal

I agree with Lance, expose all this shit!! This cover up needs to end NOW!

Lance Perkins
Lance Perkins

Thank you for reporting! This should be on your front cover! It's beyond words what atrocities these people have done to the innocent citizens that they are paid to protect and serve. My condolences to the victims families and loved ones.

FishWithoutBicycle
FishWithoutBicycle

@Dweezle  

I've noticed on many crime shows, Law & Order included, that the police get mighty annoyed when a person of interest asks for a lawyer. This speaks volumes...as if people exercising the rights afforded to the accused are merely being smartass jerks throwing a wrench into the process. Really infuriating when you think about it. This is why I've stopped watching these kinds of shows...too close to home for someone who lives in the OC.

NoBullshit
NoBullshit

Yes, this should have been front cover.  But they were too busy with the hard hitting, explosive journalism surrounding the Disney "gangs"...LMAO

sweetliberty17761776
sweetliberty17761776 topcommenter

@FishWithoutBicycle @Dweezle  


its a great point


but add to that


PEOPLE ARE AFRIAD ( and of the police too) of street crimes and they know the police are 


THE ONLY DEFENSE IN TOWN


now maybe with the good people able to obtain guns easier


maybe there could be some correlation with not giving the police


as much leeway

 
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