Misconduct case makes waves in West Covina and Baldwin Park PDs

From Thomas Himes:

West Covina police have opened an investigation into one of their own after the victim of an alleged rape accused a sergeant assigned to sexual crimes investigations of propositioning her.

In a related, but separate investigation, officials said Thursday the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will probe allegations of misconduct against Baldwin Park police Chief Lili Hadsell, per her request.

A 49-year-old woman told West Covina police investigators Monday that a sergeant propositioned and sexually harassed her during and after a rape investigation he conducted.

The woman alleges she was raped by her estranged husband, a prominent San Gabriel doctor who is Hadsell’s brother. Her estranged husband did not return phone calls seeking comment.

“I was raped, going through a nasty divorce and then they stick me with this cop,” the woman said in an interview. “He harassed me through the whole investigation. I was scared. I’m still scared.

“Who do you trust?” she said.

The sergeant under investigation did not return calls seeking comment.

West Covina police Chief Frank Wills said his department will investigate the woman’s claims. He added the law limits what he can say about police personnel matters.

“The department is aware of the allegations and is taking appropriate steps to look into those allegations,” Wills said.

DA clears El Monte cop in kick case

From staff writer Brian Charles: 


The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office will not file charges against an El Monte police officer who kicked a suspect in the face at the end of a pursuit.

In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, prosecutors said Officer George Fierro was justified in kicking Richard Rodriguez because the officer feared Rodriguez might try to get up off the ground. 

Prosecutors described the kick as a “distraction blow to get (Rodriguez) top submit to the arrest.”

Prosecutors also said they would not charge Officer James Singleterry, who hit Rodriguez four times on the arm with a flashlight. The kick followed a high speed car chase on May 13. At the end of the chase, Rodriguez crashed his car and ran.

El Monte City Councilwoman Emily Ishigaki called the decision “wonderful news.”
“I have always felt George was a good officer. He does a good job in the field. He is very experienced,” she said. 
Ishigaki, who has known Fierro for 12 years, said she was confident officials conducted a thorough investigation before making their decision. 

Corruption, racism and other strange happenings in the Valley

Lately, there’s been a hefty dose of folks taking filet knives to local government and exposing some of the dirty inner workings. Here’s a sampling of some of the bad and the ugly:

A group of Montebello cops claim their chief is a racist who only promotes his white friends. The claim carries a $30 million price tag.
The grand jury indicts a cop accused of embezzling $500,000 from tow fees collected at the Industry Station. Sgt. Joe Dyer had been on leave since 2008.
In the camellia-scented cesspool that is Temple City, a former city council candidate pleaded guilty to perjury in a case that will probably expose a corrupt money laundering scheme involving Piazza Las Tunas. 
Welcome to the San Gabriel Valley!

Chief and officer kissing video stirs trouble in Ohio

Watch the video:

CANTON, Ohio — The police chief of a northeast Ohio township has retired after a video became public showing him and a female office kissing and caressing in the front of a police cruiser while a prisoner was in the back seat.

Timothy Escola retired Tuesday night after four years with the Perry Township police department about 50 miles south of Cleveland. Law Director Charles Hall says Escola’s retirement closes an internal investigation.

Hall says no charges are being considered against part-time officer Janine England, who was with Escola in the cruiser June 2.

Escola and England drove to the Cincinnati area to pick up a burglary suspect.

Minor rap sheet, major headache in El Monte

A couple of quick updates in El Monte police department beating of a prone suspect:

First of all, suspect Richie “Turtle” Rodriguez apparently had a rap sheet filled with minor, non-violent offenses. Police have said Turtle was a member of El Monte Flores.

In the LA Times, City Councilwoman Pat Wallach, a frequent and vocal critic of the department, refused to criticize the actions of the cop who did the kicking.

“We are waiting for reports before we make specific comments on what occurred,” said Wallach.

Jerry Brown sets sights on Maywood PD

California Attorney General Jerry Brown will unveil the findings of a 16-month probe into the Maywood Police Department this afternoon. Here’s the AP’s version of the story:

LOS ANGELES–A small police department that patrols two gritty cities engaged in widespread use of unlawful force and routinely lacked probable cause to justify arrests and searches, the state attorney general said Tuesday.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown released a lengthy report detailing the findings of a 16-month investigation of the Maywood Police Department.

The report slammed the department on several fronts, criticizing its hiring of officers with misdemeanor convictions and its fostering of what it called an endemic attitude of discourtesy, sexism and racial insensitivity.

“The Maywood Police Department engaged in a pattern or practice of conduct that deprived persons of rights, privileges or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution,” the report states.

Maywood Police Chief Frank Hauptmann’s executive assistant Evelyn Ruedas said the chief was declining comment on the report.

Verdict in Carona case reached *

Jurors in the trial of former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona have reached a verdict, according Thom Mrozak with the U.S. Department of Justice. The verdict will be read at 11:45 a.m Pacific.

Carona, who grew up in Covina, is accused in a massive corruption case that led to the dismantling of his department. We’ll have the verdict when it arrives.

* Cleared on all but one count. This from CBS 2:

A jury Friday acquitted former Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona of all but one count of witness tampering in a lengthy corruption trial against the former head of the nation’s fifth largest sheriffs department.

Carona, 53, who Larry King dubbed “America’s sheriff” after the capture of 5-year-old Samantha Runnion’s killer, was cleared of one count of conspiracy, three counts of mail fraud and a second count of witness tampering.

Witnesses to the hearing described Carona as “shaking and sobbing” when the verdict was read.

Dirty ICE

The Department of Justice sent out a press release Thursday afternoon indicating they had arrested an attorney working for the agency and his wife for taking bribes from immigrants at least one of the bribes was $20,000. Nice.

Here’s the top of the release:

A senior attorney with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was arrested today after allegedly taking a $20,000 bribe from an immigrant seeking documentation to remain in the United States.

ICE Assistant Chief Counsel Constantine Peter Kallas, 38, and his wife, Maria Kallas, 39, both of Alta Loma, were arrested this afternoon by special agents with ICE Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They
were arrested at the San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino in Highland, where they allegedly accepted a bribe payment from an immigrant.

The couple is expected to make their initial court appearance tomorrow afternoon in United States District Court in Santa Ana.

The Baldwin Park – Blue Lake conection

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David Gundersen used to be a cop in Baldwin Park. He moved out and up. First stopping in Adelanto then moving on to Blue Lake, a small city near Eureka, where he became chief.

Just before Valentine’s Day this year, Dave got himself arrested — for rape. Ultimately he was booked and arraigned on 19 felony counts.

His colleagues and neighbors say Dave’s a nice guy.

Here’s what the officials are telling the Eureka Times-Standard. There’s much more to this story….