Prosecutors in Tony Rackauckas’ Orange County district attorney’s office (OCDA) had hoped a jury would believe the cockamamie, self-serving story of a paid-off snitch to convict a government target, William James Shoop, of a July 2016 murder in an Anaheim motel.
But Weekly readers know based on our two prior news stories that informant Bryan Jason Goldstein—a perennial gun-toting narcotics trafficker with a heavy rap sheet—lacked even an iota of credibility and jurors officially agreed, refusing on June 13 to hand OCDA the courthouse victory it sought.
The jury did, however, find Shoop, an associate of the Aryan Brotherhood and Public Enemy Number One Death Squad (PEN1), guilty on counts that included weapons, conspiracy and gang participation charges.
Superior Court Judge Patrick Donahue declared a mistrial on the murder count after the jury voted 8 to 4 for not guilty and he scheduled a July 6 hearing to consider how Shoop’s prior convictions will figure in a future sentencing hearing.
Goldstein—a colorful, even chatty methamphetamine and heroin addict who uses the moniker “Ace”—told police, prosecutors and the jury a wild, rationally implausible tale that made himself both a victim and superhero at the murder scene inside the Akua Motor Inn not far from Disneyland.
According to his story, he’d left a meeting with his probation officer and went to the motel room to purchase illegal narcotics from the white supremacists (Daniel Richardson, Todd Schneider and Shoop) when the three men allegedly ambushed him at gun point in a robbery attempt.
Goldstein claims he braved the guns, threw Shoop by the neck onto the bed, tried to wrestle his gun away while Richardson and Schneider supposedly stood feet away with their loaded guns, and that he “moved out of the way fast enough” to avoid a bullet that killed Richardson.
Not only did Goldstein manage to perform a physics-defying movement, he also somehow fled the hotel with drugs, more than $1,000 in cash in his pockets and a gun before police arrived, all tremendous feats for a robbery victim facing hardened street criminals.
Despite Goldstein’s pronounced trouble telling the truth, OCDA is also using him as its star witness in another bizarre case where he was present during a triple attempted murder in Costa Mesa near South Coast Plaza.
The shooting victim placed the shooter in a dark sedan driven by Goldstein, but the snitch told police the perpetrator was Josh Waring, who was driving a white BMW SUV.
Waring, who has appeared on Bravo’s Real Housewives of Orange County, denies guilt in the June 2016 shooting, but OCDA gave Goldstein an incredibly generous sweetheart deal for his own crimes if he testifies for the prosecution.
After learning he’d receive a plea bargain of no jail time, Goldstein changed his initial story to police to make it more aligned with prosecutors’ desired version of events nailing Waring.
In recent years, Rackaucksas’ office has been repeatedly caught misusing informants to allegedly solve weak criminal cases.
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.