RL NEWS Briefs of the Week: May 15, 2015

  • 05/15/2015
  • Reporters Desk

Tanaka and Carey Plead ‘Not Guilty’

LOS ANGELES — On May 14, Paul Tanaka and William Thomas Carey plead not guilty to obstruction of justice during their appearance in court at the Roybal Federal Building in Los Angeles.

A trial was scheduled for July 7. Both were released yesterday afternoon on bond. For Tanaka, bond was set at $50,000, and will be secured by property owned by his wife.  Carey’s bond was set at $100,000, but is unsecured.

Tanaka, who was the second in command of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department, and Carey, who oversaw internal criminal investigations at the LASD, were indicted on obstruction of justice charges for allegedly directing efforts to quash a federal investigation into corruption and civil rights violations by sheriff’s deputies at two downtown jail complexes.

A federal grand jury returned a five-count indictment against Tanaka and Carey, who allegedly participated in a broad conspiracy to obstruct the investigation, a scheme that started when the sheriff’s department learned that an inmate at the Men’s Central Jail was an FBI informant.

Tanaka and Carey allegedly directed, oversaw and participated in a conspiracy that this past year resulted in the conviction of seven other former LASD deputies.

Tanaka and Carey, both 56, are charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice, and each is named in one count of obstruction of justice. Carey is charged with two counts of making false declarations for perjuring himself last year during the trials of co-conspirators.

Tanaka was the undersheriff – the No. 2 in the LASD – until 2013, and he ran an unsuccessful campaign for sheriff last year. Carey left the LASD after reaching the rank of captain and heading the Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau.

Tanaka and Carey surrendered themselves to the FBI early May 14.

According to the indictment that was unsealed, the two defendants were well aware of “problem deputies” at the jails, “allegations of rampant abuse of inmates,” and “insufficient internal investigations” into deputy misconduct. But against this backdrop, Tanaka allegedly told deputies assigned to the jails to work in a “gray area” and that he thought that the LASD Internal Affairs Bureau should be reduced from 45 investigators to just one.

The scheme to thwart the federal investigation allegedly started when deputies in August 2011 recovered a mobile phone from an inmate in Men’s Central Jail, linked the phone to the FBI, and determined that the inmate was an informant for the FBI and was cooperating in a federal corruption civil rights investigation. The phone was given to the inmate by a corrupt deputy, who subsequently pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges.

Alarmed by the federal investigation, members of the conspiracy, guided by Tanaka and Carey, took affirmative steps to hide the cooperator from the FBI and the United States Marshals Service, which was attempting to bring the inmate to testify before a federal grand jury in response to an order issued by a federal judge. The indictment alleges that as part of the conspiracy, the deputies altered records to make it appear that the cooperator had been released. They then re-booked the inmate under a different name, moved him to secure locations, prohibited FBI access to the informant, and then told the cooperator that he had been abandoned by the FBI.

Over the course of several weeks, members of the conspiracy allegedly sought an order from a Los Angeles Superior Court judge that would have compelled the FBI to turn over information about its investigation to the LASD. After the judge refused to issue the order because he had no jurisdiction over the federal law enforcement agency, and even though it was clear that the FBI was properly acting in the course of a lawful investigation, Tanaka and Carey met to discuss having two sergeants approach the lead FBI case agent. Soon thereafter, the sergeants confronted the agent at her residence in an attempt to intimidate her. The sergeants threatened the agent with arrest and later reiterated this threat to her supervisor, stating that the agent’s arrest was imminent.

“As the allegations demonstrate, Tanaka had a large role in institutionalizing certain illegal behavior within the sheriff’s department,” said Acting United States Attorney Stephanie Yonekura. “This case also illustrates how leaders who foster and then try to hide a corrupt culture, will be held accountable, just like their subordinates.”

The indictment also alleges that Tanaka and Carey oversaw co-conspirators who told fellow deputies not to cooperate in the federal investigation. Members of the conspiracy allegedly engaged in witness tampering by telling fellow deputies that the FBI would lie, threaten, manipulate and blackmail them to obtain information about the sheriff’s department.

“The allegations in the indictment include cover-ups, diversionary tactics, retribution and a culture generally reserved for Hollywood scripts,” said David Bowdich, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office. “The public held the defendants to the highest standard, but, instead, they spent their time and energy setting a tone which minimized the value of their oath and dishonored the badge they wore.”

An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty in court.

The conspiracy count carries a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison, and the obstruction of justice charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years. The two false declaration counts against Carey each carry a potential penalty of five years.

As a result of this investigation, a total of 21 defendants who held various ranks in the LASD have been charged, including the deputy who took the bribe to smuggle the phone and seven co-conspirators in the scheme to obstruct justice (see, for example: http://www.justice.gov/usao/cac/Pressroom/2014/161.html).

The investigation into corruption, civil rights abuses and obstruction of justice related to the Los Angeles County jails is being conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

LBPD Release Name of OIS Officer
LONG BEACH — On May 12, the Long Beach Police Department released the name of Officer Jeffrey A. Meyer, who killed an unarmed 19-year-old man on April 23.
The fatal shooting of Hector Morejon took place in the central area of Long Beach known as Cambodia Town. Morejon’s family want officials to release his autopsy report and the 9-1-1 dispatch call.
The shooting took place after officers responded to reports of a break in to an unoccupied residence. Police officials said Meyer thought he saw Morejon pointing a gun before shooting. No weapon was found at the scene.

Bird Theft Suspect IdentifiedZermeno
LONG BEACH — On May 15, Long Beach Police Department detectives identified 42-year-old Jose Jesus Zermeno as a suspect wanted in connection with the theft of exotic birds from a Long Beach home.
The LBPD is seeking the public’s help with locating him and identifying two additional suspects.
Officials said that on May 4, Zermeno entered a residential backyard in the 6700 block of Harbor Avenue, where he stole five exotic birds from separate birdcages. Video surveillance captured the incident where Zermeno is seen climbing over the fence into the backyard, opening birdcages, removing the birds, and handing them over the fence to a second suspect. A third unidentified suspect drove a red Ford Ranger truck.

A police officer spotted the truck, at about 5 a.m. May 14, 2015, near Wardlow Road and Atlantic Avenue. The officer attempted to conduct a traffic stop but the driver of the failed to yield and led the officer on a short vehicle pursuit. The officer lost sight of the truck. It was later found abandoned in the 2200 block of Cedar Avenue. The truck was impounded and is in the custody of the Long Beach Police Department.
Zermeno is about 5’ 3″ with a medium build. The second suspect is a 25- to 30-year-old man, about 5’10” to 6’0” and 185 to 200 pounds. The description of the third suspect is unknown at this time.
If anyone has information about this incident call (562) 570-7351 or visit www.LACrimeStoppers.org.

Long Beach City Council Helps Cab Company Stay Competitive

LONG BEACH — On May 12, The Long Beach City Council voted 9-0 to ease regulations on Long Beach Yellow Cab so that it could increase its fleet size.
The cab company will increase its fleet size by 24 to 199 taxicabs in Long Beach.
The council’s decision will allow for the company to offer discounts to make them more competitive with rideshare companies Uber and Lyft, for example.
The company has stated that it plans to rebrand itself and incorporate mobility technology.

CSU to Get $38 Million
SACRAMENTO — The California State University system is slated to receive an additional $38 million for investment as a result of Gov. Jerry Brown’s revised budget to the Legislature.
However, the proposal falls $59 million short of what the CSU Board of Trustees deems is necessary.
The Legislature has until June 15 to send their version of the State Budget to the governor for his final approval by July 1.

UC’s Largest Employee Union, AFSCME 3299, Reacts to Governor’s May Budget Revise
OAKLAND — In response to the release of Gov. Jerry Brown’s May Budget Revise, which includes a two-year tuition freeze at the University of California, AFSCME 3299 President Kathryn Lybarger has released the following statement:
“We are encouraged by … [the] May Budget revise, which includes a framework for preventing the planned UC tuition hikes that would have been devastating for students. The University’s commitment to contain the exorbitant executive pensions that divert resources away from UC’s core public mission is also an important step forward, provided it is not used as a tool to undermine the retirement security of its lower paid, frontline staff.
Ultimately, there remains much more to do to restore UC’s promise of offering ladders to the middle class for Californians, particularly on issues of in-state access and the rising number of UC workers who are living in poverty. That’s why we will continue to urge legislators to tie increased state funding to in-state enrollment targets, and to enact legislation that guarantees ‘equal pay’ for UC subcontractors who do the same jobs as career UC employees (SB 376, Lara).”

Hahn Tries to Honor World War II Merchant Mariners
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On May 14, Rep. Janice Hahn, who has been leading an effort to honor World War II Merchant Mariners spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Despite courageous and heroic service World War II Merchant Mariners did not receive benefits like the G.I. bill provided to other veterans.
As the House considers the National Defense Authorization Act, Hahn offered an amendment that would have honored those who served in the Merchant Marine during World War II. However, the House Rules Committee did not rule her amendment in order.
Hahn earlier this year introduced the Honoring Our WWII Merchant Mariners Act of 2015 (H.R. 563).
Video of Congresswoman Hahn speaking today on the urgency of honoring surviving WWII Merchant Mariners can be seen at https://youtu.be/Q5vmvcfgJms

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