Federal Judges Gave Prosecutors Leeway to Obtain Convictions by Devious Means
Denver, CO -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/11/2017 --The wrongful conviction and imprisonment of nine Los Angeles County Sheriff law enforcement officers known as the LASD9 (Undersheriff Paul Tanaka, Captain Tom Carey, Lt. Steve Leavins, Lt. Greg Thompson, Sgt. Scott Craig, Sgt. Maricela Long, Deputy James Sexton, Deputy Mickey Manzo, Deputy Gerard Smith) and six Colorado information technology executives known as the IRP6 (David A. Banks, Kendrick Barnes, Gary L. Walker, Demetrius K. Harper, David A. Zirpolo and Clinton A. Stewart) is not only about an epidemic of prosecutorial abuses of power that destroys careers and hurts families, but also exposes the cruelty of the U.S. justice system and explains why American citizens continue to account for 25% of the world's prison population.
"I am truly saddened and struggle to understand these federal prosecutors' insatiable desire to convict and imprison these 15 men with no criminal histories and evidence of actual innocence," says Lamont Banks, Executive Director of A Just Cause. "Judge Christine M. Arguello in the IRP6 case and Judge Percy Anderson in the LASD9 case dishonored justice and the federal judiciary by giving federal prosecutors wide leeway to gain convictions by devious means," contends Banks. "And their actions indicate to me that they care nothing about ethics or the pain and suffering of wives and children as they sought and imposed prison sentences for 9 dedicated and highly-decorated law enforcement officers after decades of protecting the citizens of California, and 6 information technology executives who developed innovative criminal investigations and intelligence software to drastically improve information sharing and collaboration among law enforcement agencies to protect Americans from another 9/11 attack," exclaims Banks. "If a conviction sounds too crazy to be true, it probably is," says Banks. "And the word crazy aptly describes the LASD9 and IRP6 convictions," asserts Banks.
Court records from a LASD9 case and the LA Times (http://lat.ms/2nPxAJ1) shows that FBI Special Agent Leah Marx orchestrated the smuggling of a cell phone to violent inmate Anthony Brown as part of an FBI civil rights probe into deputy abuse at LASD jails. After finding the phone in a random search of the inmate's property and determining it was linked to the FBI, Sheriff Lee Baca had questions, but Assistant Director-in-Charge (ADIC) Steven Martinez wouldn't provide any answers, simply telling Baca he wanted the phone back and that Brown should be put into protective custody. Baca told Martinez he would keep the phone until he conducted his own internal investigation.
Brown told LASD investigators that the FBI had smuggled multiple phones and narcotics into to the jail and showed them pictures of drugs on the phone. Unsure of the location of cell phones, the quantity of drugs smuggled into the prison or how many deputies or FBI agents may be involved, Baca took ADIC Martinez's advice and directed subordinates to put Brown into protective custody and ordered no access to Brown until LASD could fully sort things out. According to the LA Times, Baca appeared on the local television news program "Good Day LA" and suggested the FBI had committed a crime. "It's illegal, said Baca, "It's a misdemeanor and then there's a conspiracy law that goes along with it," asserted Baca. "Although Baca had probable cause to conduct a lawful and legitimate investigation, publicly accusing the FBI and seeking to arrest Marx allegedly provoked the feds to vindictively prosecute as many LASD officers as possible with obstruction of justice for following Baca's orders to investigate the FBI," contends Banks. "Sources tell AJC that co-prosecutor Lizabeth Rhodes arrogantly bragged and boasted to LASD defendants that she can indict a Dr. Pepper if she wants," says Banks.
In Tanaka's case (9th Cir. case no. 16-50233, Gov. Ans. Brief, DktEntry 24), Judge Percy Anderson allegedly permitted federal prosecutor Brandon Fox to use Tanaka's tattoo of a viking on his leg to assassinate his character and prejudice the jury against him. Fox alleged that Tanaka's viking tattoo was evidence that he was affiliated with a group of corrupt Lynwood station deputies that, in a lawsuit 30 years earlier, federal judge Terry Hatter characterized as the "vikings" who were a "neo-Nazi, white supremacist gang" that engaged in "terrorist tactics." Tanaka, a Japanese-American and other Lynwood deputies (Black, Hispanic and Asian) with viking tattoos were not named in the lawsuit. The viking tattoo was a symbol of station pride based on a viking mascot, which was also Lynwood's team name for intramural sports. Norwalk station's mascot was the wolverines and the Firestone station was the pirates. "Why did Judge Anderson allow Fox to use Tanaka's tattoo and the lawsuit as to poison the jury when Tanaka wasn't named in the lawsuit?" asks Banks. In the brief, Fox asks the 9th Circuit to excuse his treacherous use of the tattoo because he and Judge Anderson "took extra precautions to ensure that there was no unfair prejudice (to Tanaka). Another issue of note that could be an indicator of judicial bias and unfairness towards Tanaka was Judge Anderson's refusal to provide Sheriff Lee Baca with limited immunity to testify in Tanaka's trial.
Deputy Manzo was given immunity by the FBI and testified that he attended meetings called by Baca regarding Brown and the smuggled cell phone where Tanaka and others were present. Manzo's testimony was that Tanaka "participated in meetings" called by Baca, instructed subordinates to "report back to Baca," cursed the FBI, "that Baca gave the orders" and other specific details, but "could not recall [Tanaka] giving him any orders at the...meetings or at any other time..." (Case no. 16-50233, Govt. Ans. Brief, DktEntry 24). "How could Judge Anderson possibly conclude that Baca testifying about Tanaka not being directly involved in an LASD investigation that allegedly obstructed a federal investigation would be irrelevant when Manzo's was the government's key witness?" questions Banks. "It was critically important that the jury be given an opportunity to hear Baca's testimony and evaluate whether they find Baca's April 2013 statements to the FBI that 1) he (Baca) was the "macro-manager" of the investigation, 2) Captain Carey and Lt. Leavins were the "micro-managers, and 3) on three occasions, Tanaka was not directly involved in the investigation," contends Banks. "If Baca gave the orders, as Manzo testified, and Tanaka was not involved as the FBI interview report says, why is Tanaka in prison?" ponders Banks.
After reviewing facts, evidence and trial transcripts in the IRP6 case, former federal appeals judge H. Lee Sarokin decried the IRP6 injustice in the Washington Post (http://www.wapo.st/29jXqSC), the Huffington Post and in a November 2015 letter to President Obama requesting clemency, stating that the IRP6 were indicted, prosecuted and harshly sentenced to prison terms of 7 to 11 years by Judge Arguello for "failing to pay corporate debts." When federal prosecutor Matthew T. Kirsch failed to prove his case after his own witnesses exposed the indictment as a fraud, Judge Arguello was asked to dismiss the charges, but refused. A judicial complaint (http://bit.ly/2ba9827) and letter to Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts (http://bit.ly/2b06RpM) asserts other abuses of the IRP6 defendants by Judge Arguello, including violating a federal statute and the IRP6's 5th and 6th Amendment rights by forcing the pro se IRP6 defendants to testify under threat and excluding critical expert witnesses. Included with the judicial complaint was Judge Sarokin's discussion of Judge Arguello's violating the IRP6's 5th Amendment rights (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judge-h-lee-sarokin/the-case-of-the-missing-t_1_b_5340397.html). For a list of other articles written by Sarokin concerning the IRP6 go to (http://bit.ly/2njNNaj) and further details and other expert opinions on how Kirsch criminalized debt, go to (http://mwne.ws/2gTFO3G).
In 2015, prominent 9th Circuit appeals Judge Alex Kozinski wrote about a judge's duty to reign in an epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct that leads to wrongful convictions in the Georgetown Law Review. "There are countless ways in which a prosecutor can prejudice the fact-finding process and undermine a defendant's right to a fair trial," said Kozinski. "There has been an avalanche of exonerations in recent years...and in every one of those cases there was some sort of proceeding, usually a trial, where a judge let an innocent man be convicted and sent to prison" and "when such cases are reported, the trial judge is always given a pass, as if he was merely a bystander who watched helplessly while an innocent man had his life ripped away," added Kozinski. "In criminal cases, judges have an affirmative duty to ensure fairness and justice, because they are the only ones who can force prosecutors and their investigators and experts to comply with due process," said Kozinski.
"The IRP6 and LASD9 had their lives ripped away because Judges Arguello and Anderson failed in their duty to ensure fairness and justice and let prosecutors victimize them and undermine their right to a fair trial, says Banks. "That explains how nine dedicated and highly-decorated LASD law enforcement officers who protected the public for decades were wrongly-convicted and imprisoned and how and six Colorado IT executives dedicated to improving law enforcement technology to protect Americans from another 9/11 attack lost their freedom. "The IRP6 and LASD9 cases shows that federal judges will not protect average citizens from prosecutorial abuse in the federal courts and why we call on Americans to raise their voices in protest these wrongful-convictions," concludes Banks.