LASD9 Prosecuted to Cover FBI Misconduct, Not for Obstruction of Justice, Alleges Advocacy Organization, A Just Cause
Denver, CO -- (ReleaseWire) -- 07/20/2017 --"The LASD9 case was not about obstruction of justice as the government contends, it was about the FBI and Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's Office abusing its power to vindictively prosecute Sheriff Lee Baca and other LASD officials (Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, Capt. Tom Carey, Lt. Stephen Leavins, Lt. Greg Thompson, Sgt. Scott Craig, Sgt. Maricela Long, Deputy Mickey Manzo, Deputy James Sexton, Deputy Girard Smith) for investigating a rogue FBI agent, who, during an FBI sting into alleged LASD deputy abuses, orchestrated the alleged illegal smuggling of cell phones and narcotics into a violent inmate informant housed at an LASD jail," says Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause. "The FBI knew that smuggling a cell phone into the jail was reckless, dangerous and just plain wrong," adds Banks. "Congress needs to thoroughly investigate who in the FBI authorized the operation that possibly violated FBI policy, California law and federal law," adds Banks.
The FBI website (fbi.gov) discussed the dangers of "Cell Phones as Prison Contraband" in July 2010 where it urged jail and prison officials to take "aggressive measures to detect [cell phones] because inmates used them to "facilitate criminal activity" that not only endangers "jail personnel and other prisoners, but the community at large."
"When the government brings an illegitimate prosecution to cover their wrongdoing, the evidence never measures up to the charges," says Banks. "After reviewing more of the details of the LASD9 case, I am baffled why federal judge Percy Anderson didn't dismiss these charges or how the LASD9 case made it into a federal court," adds Banks. "Today, AJC discusses more specific details of the government's case which provides virtually irrefutable proof that these local police officers were wrongly-convicted and imprisoned," says Banks.
A Just Cause first examines the testimony of Assistant Director-in-Charge Steven Martinez and questions whether the government had probable cause to believe the LASD was obstructing justice. The rest of AJC's examination centers around claims that 1)the LASD officials actually obstructed their investigation 2) Craig and Long lied to the FBI 3) LASD obstructed justice by disposing of a writ/court order to turn the FBI inmate informant over to federal agents and 4) Tanaka ordered the hiding of the inmate from the FBI. "The evidence related to these allegations is virtually non-existent and supports A Just Cause's conclusion that this was a vindictive prosecution," says Banks.
TOPIC: Did the FBI really believe LASD was obstructing an FBI investigation or were they trying to cover their butts?
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge (ADIC) Steven Martinez testified that once LASD officials compromised the FBI's cell phone through a random search of Brown's property, he didn't think the FBI had a viable way of continuing the operation with Brown. Martinez told Baca that Brown should be placed in protective custody, testifying that he was concerned with Brown's safety and him being housed in an LASD jail after he was exposed as an FBI informant.
"Martinez's concern for Brown's safety is admirable and appropriate, but where was the FBI's concern about the safety of LASD staff, inmates and the public before they allegedly violated their policy and California law by orchestrating the smuggling of a cell phone into a violent inmate informant?" asks Banks. "Furthermore, if Brown was no longer of value to the FBI, how did LASD officials obstruct justice when they moved Brown as part of their internal investigation for protective custody reasons?" asks Banks.
The government claimed that LASD officials conspired together to obstruct justice by moving Brown under the orders of Tanaka "to keep him away from the FBI. "Baca acted legally, ethically and responsibly consistent with his moral and legal obligation under California law to thoroughly investigate allegations by the FBI's own informant that Special Agent Leah Marx, and possibly other FBI officials, had smuggled multiple phones and narcotics into LASD jails," says Cliff Stewart, A Just Cause. According to the testimony of Captain Tom Carey, Baca ordered him (not Tanaka) to "conduct an investigation, get to the bottom of it, and keep Brown safe."
"If FBI agents are suspects in LASD's investigation, what makes the FBI think their agents should be allowed to speak to Brown, who is also a suspect?" asks Banks. Once it was determined that the FBI had potentially broke the law, endangered the lives of LASD staff and became a threat to the security of the jails and the public, their investigation became illegitimate and LASD was in their right not to permit them into the jails until they completed their investigation," argues Stewart.
TOPIC: Should Sgt. Scott Craig and Sgt. Maricela Long have been charged with lying to the FBI about FBI Agent Leah Marx being a suspect and did they have probable cause to arrest her?
The government charged and convicted LASD investigators Sgt. Scott Craig and Maricela Long for lying to Marx about being a named suspect in their investigation. Keep in mind that trial judge Percy Anderson told the jury that LASD "has the authority to investigate potential violations of state law," which "includes the authority to investigate potential violations of state law by federal agents." A Just Cause has learned that during the LASD investigation, both agent Marx and FBI agent David Lam, indeed, were named suspects in a felony complaint (form SH-AD-49) filed by Sgt. Craig based on interviews with Brown and Deputy Gilbert Michel who implicated Marx in a smuggling operation. "Where is the lie?" asks Banks. Although Marx's orchestrating the smuggling of the cell phone is not in dispute and that her actions were a violation of California law, Judge Anderson still concluded that Craig didn't have "probable cause" to threaten Marx with arrest, claiming it was an act of intimidation. Videotape shows that Craig and Long's encounter with Marx was hardly intimidation as Judge Anderson contends and was described by the LA Times as a "surprisingly polite exchange." (See video at http://bit.ly/2tyWmQn). "If the FBI doesn't want to face the threat of arrest by Los Angeles County law enforcement then they should avoid violating California laws," says Banks. "The FBI is not above the law and sergeants Craig and Long shouldn't be in prison for enforcing California law," exclaims Banks.
TOPIC: LASD Disposed of a writ to turn over informant for FBI questioning
Trial transcripts show that government witness Linda K. Farrar of the U.S. Marshals Service testified that she received an email from a federal prosecutor requesting that she serve a writ (court order) to the LASD to transfer FBI inmate informant Anthony Brown into federal custody for questioning. Farrar responded to prosecutor's email telling him that she was leaving town but would turn over the writ to Yolanda Baines to file with LASD in her absence. Farrar testified that she had nothing to do with the writ after leaving, vaguely remembered the specifics surrounding the writ, didn't know if Baines actually faxed the writ, that Yolanda Baines no longer worked with the Marshal's service and that the government didn't know where she was. "It is completely unrealistic that the federal government didn't know where Baines was or how to locate her to testify in the LASD9 case," says Stewart. "The only so-called evidence provided by the government was a fax transmission record that showed "something" was sent from the Marshal's fax machine to an LASD fax machine and Farrar's claim that she had sent thousands of writs/documents to that particular LASD fax number," adds Stewart.
"The government never proved that the writ in question was sent and their failure to call Baines to testify speaks volumes and raises justifiable suspicions about whether the writ was actually faxed," contends Stewart. "The government clearly failed to prove LASD officials obstructed justice by disposing of the writ," says Stewart. "I really don't like criticizing juries but I have to question whether or not this jury was sleeping during trial or seriously evaluated the credibility of the government's evidence," adds Stewart.
TOPIC: Tanaka Ordered the Hiding of the FBI Informant to Obstruct the FBI Investigation
Tara Adams, the government's star witness claimed that three deputies' unknown to her showed up in jeans and windbreakers and asked her to modify the inmate database to show the Brown had been released. Adams says when she refused, citing that she needed a court order. Adams testified that the deputies asked her "Are going to tell Tanaka no?" and she responded that she would need something in writing from Tanaka (which she never received). Adams further states that the deputies threatened to call Tanaka on their cell phone and she could personally tell him no. However, when asked if the deputies actually called Tanaka, Adams said no, but said she "suspected" Tanaka gave the orders.
"Not a single LASD official involved in the investigation or a government witness involved in the case has ever said Tanaka gave them an order to hide Brown or to obstruct the FBI investigation in any way," says Banks. "It is obvious Baca ordered and directed the investigation in his April 12, 2013 interview with the FBI, where he told investigators he was the macro-manager and Captain Carey was the micro-manager," says Banks.
"It is clear from the government's evidence, or lack thereof, that the prosecution and imprisonment of the LASD9 was unwarranted and done solely for the purpose of covering up poor judgment of and FBI to arrange for the smuggling of a cell phone," says Banks. "A Just Cause has great respect for federal, state and local law enforcement in this country, but U.S. Attorneys vindictively prosecuting and imprisoning its local law enforcement partners for investigating rogue FBI agents for violations of state law is reprehensible," adds Banks.
"A Just Cause is working hard to have the LASD9 pardoned and have their good names, reputations and constitutional rights restored to them as well as pushing for Congress to investigate who in the FBI authorized this reckless and dangerous smuggling operation that endangered their lives and the public-at-large," says Banks. "We ask everyone to keep the LASD9 and their families in their thoughts and prayers as they suffer through horrible injustice," concludes Banks.