OC Sheriffs-0, Moxley 2.
That was the headline in my mind back on June 27 when I read R. Scott Moxley’s story announcing that Sandra Hutchens, Orange County’s scandal-scarred sheriff, would not seek re-election next year. After all, Moxley had already taken down Hutchens’ predecessor, Mike Carona (our 2008 Scary Hall of Fame winner) by breaking stories that sent “America’s sheriff (as Carona was crowned by Larry King) straight to federal prison.
Hutchens had come into office promising to get the department in shape after Carona ran it into the ground with corrupt leadership, allegations of mob ties, an assistant whose son was convicted of raping an unconscious girl and putting it on video, and a brutal jail system where deputies let the racist gangs beat the hell out of (and occasionally murder) unpopular inmates while deputies watched television and texted their girlfriends.
But instead of cleaning up the sheriff’s department, Hutchens presided over its continued slide into sliminess. Her major accomplishment: supervising over the agency’s deliberate policy of using jail snitches with extensive criminal backgrounds to inform on criminal defendants in ongoing cases. Of course, this collusion between cops and prosecutors was already standard practice when Hutchens took the helm, but it finally got so out of control that it forced a judge to take the death penalty off the table in Orange County’s worst mass murder in recent memory.
Publicly, Hutchens waffled on the issue, alternatively denying any such jail informant program existed and blaming the misconduct on a few bad apples. Privately, records show, she congratulated her underlings that were in charge of the whole scheme. The bad publicity—led of course by Moxley’s indefatigable reporting—led to national headlines and ultimately, and deservedly, led to her political demise. Heckuva job, Sandy!
2005: Inductee lost in one of our many website revamps
2008: Disgraced, felonious, adulterous ex-Sheriff Mike Carona
(awarded retroactively for the whole indictment thing)
2009: Santa Ana Mayor-for-Life Miguel Pulido (awarded
retroactively for a career that saw him go from Aztlanista to the
supreme vendido in Orange County—and in a county where Republican
Mexicans have a group called the Hispanic 100, that’s saying
2016: Hugh Hewitt
Award-winning investigative journalist Nick Schou is Editor of OC Weekly. He is the author of Kill the Messenger: How the CIA’s Crack Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb (Nation Books 2006), which provided the basis for the 2014 Focus Features release starring Jeremy Renner and the L.A. Times-bestseller Orange Sunshine: The Brotherhood of Eternal Love’s Quest to bring Peace, Love and Acid to the World, (Thomas Dunne 2009). He is also the author of The Weed Runners (2013) and Spooked: How the CIA Manipulates the Media and Hoodwinks Hollywood (2016).