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Mon, Oct

DA’s Office Has a Pattern of Turning a Blind Eye to Public Corruption

SOUTH OF THE 10 - The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office pattern of turning a blind eye to complaints submitted by the public is nothing new.

Especially to residents who submit complaints that either linger in the abyss or are flat out rejected.

The Metro whistleblower isn’t the first to have submitted documentation of alleged public corruption that fell on deaf ears within the DA’s Public Integrity division.  Why weren’t her claims investigated by the DA before the Sheriff’s office got involved?

These instances occurred under former DA Jackie Lacey and continue under George Gascon. Here are a few more. 

Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts was the subject of a (sham) investigation when a former member of the city council filed a complaint on the appearance he was benefitting from his vote on the city’s multi-million dollar trash contract. The investigation was also looked into by the feds who interviewed trash companies who submitted bids but nothing came of it. When the Times asked the DA’s office about their investigation, Michelle Gilmer told them there was “limited information” because they couldn’t find the investigation files. The Times then backed off.

Inglewood residents submitted an additional complaint about Inglewood Councilman Eloy Morales who also voted on the same trash contract, who was then hired as a consultant by Pacific Coast Waste Services two years later, whose listed phone number rang to Consolidated Waste/Republic Services. When the Daily Breeze asked the DA’s office about it, they said they were “looking into it” and then crickets. After his side jobs were reported in the media, Morales stopped claiming the income on his annual statement of economic interest Form 700s. Morales had multiple outside contracts despite being paid a salary by Inglewood taxpayers for alleged “full-time” work as a member of the city council.

Then there’s Long Beach Councilman Rex Richardson who voted on a ten-year telecommunications contract with Crown Castle, and a separate contract for Renovate America, who then went to work for both companies after what appears to be a “cooling off” period. When the DA reviewed the complaint, they closed the inquiry because they said Richardson’s work on behalf of the companies weren’t connected to activities in Long Beach, but in other cities around LA County.

HUH?

The DA’s office appears to allow certain elected officials to profit from their votes as long as it’s not done “immediately” and strangely the new DA is no different than his predecessor.

He campaigned to open four cases of officer involved shootings that he allowed the statute of limitations to expire on. The Times said NOTHING. Frankly, the media in general swept it under the rug.

Gascon campaigned on “prosecuting cops” involved in officer involved shootings and those he did bring to court ended in the officer’s favor. He didn’t even charge the five Inglewood police officers who killed a couple who fell asleep in their car. 

What does that say to the taxpayers and elected officials subsequently charged with “public corruption” particularly those who aren’t in the “circle of influence”? 

If this is what is going on in the DA’s office, we’re glad Sheriff Alex Villanueva took it upon himself to write to Attorney General Rob Bonta Sept. 14 asking for him to take over the Sheila Kuehl/Metro investigation. Only problem is, Bonta was appointed to his office by Gov. Gavin Newsom who shares close ties with LA County elected leaders who played a pivotal role in staving off a recall against him.

Bonta also found himself in the crosshairs of a corruption probe into a land deal in Orange County involving the city of Anaheim and the Anaheim Angeles. Bonta signed off on a settlement to squash residents concerns about possible violation of the Surplus Land Act that is now null and void.

What isn’t being widely reported is the fact that The Current Report, an independent news source, reportedon President Biden calling for an investigation into the FBI’s lack of presence during the raid on Metro Sept. 16.

Three days later, on Sept. 19, it was announced there was new leadership in the Federal Court’s Central California District office who was sworn in the same day.

“I am deeply honored to return to the United States Attorney’s Office and have the opportunity to serve the people of this district,” Martin Estrada said in a statement. “As the leader of this office, I will be focused on protecting our community, safeguarding the rights of every individual in this district and upholding the rule of law. I will also work to further develop the office’s relationships with federal, state and local law enforcement and with our community partners. Working together, we will always put the people of this district first.” 

It’s clear the media has the same directive as others to “get rid of Sheriff Villanueva” but they’re doing it in such a manner that has become blatantly biased as if they were a “blog” and not the “news”.

The Sheriff wasn’t “stripped” of anything, he ASKED for the investigation to be moved out of his department and for journalists to suggest otherwise is patently false.

Why does the DA’s office even have a public integrity division if they aren’t investigating public corruption across the board unless its only function is to stop investigations from moving forward? 

USC knew better and bypassed the DA’s office altogether when they questioned a $100,000 campaign check that filtered its way through the university to a think tank run by a local politicians son. 

We know how that story ends.

(2UrbanGirls has been cited in Daily Breeze, Daily News, Inglewood Today, Intersections South LA, KCRW, KPCC, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Wave, LA Weekly, LA Watts Times, Mercury News, New York Times, Orange County Register, Sports Illustrated, The Atlantic, and Washington Post. 2UrbanGirls has a recurring column, South of the 10, on CityWatchLA.)