Lawsuit targets LA Sheriff’s deputies for sex with alleged crime victims

A federal civil rights lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Wednesday alleges the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department encourages deputies to seek out intimate relationships with alleged victims of crimes.

The lawsuit also alleges the Sheriff’s Department routinely covers up inappropriate relationships and conflicts-of-interests and conducts internal investigations aimed at exonerating accused deputies.

The lawsuit, filed by Arnoldo Casillas on behalf of Alberto Gutierrez of Rosemead, seeks unspecified damages.

“There’s this problem and practice of sweeping this behavior under the rug,” said Casillas at a press conference Wednesday in Montebello.

Sheriff’s officials denied the allegations leveled at the department and Detective Phil Solano, a 29-year-veteran who works at the Industry substation.

Solano did not return three calls seeking comment.

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Facebook friending gets Industry detective reassigned

A sheriff’s spokesman said officials reassigned an Industry detective to administrative duty after allegations surfaced that he had a Rosemead man arrested to further a relationship with the man’s wife.

Detective Phil Solano remains at the Industry Station pending the outcome of the investigation, said Steve Whitmore, spokesman for Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

The probe began in April shortly after the Sheriff’s Department received a complaint, Whitmore said.

“That’s news to me,” Solano said of the investigation. He declined to comment further.

According to court documents, Alberto Gutierrez, 36, was arrested in June 2008 on suspicion of making death threats and violating a domestic restraining order, Solano investigated the case.

In September 2008 Solano arrested Gutierrez on suspicion of violating a restraining order and stalking.

Gutierrez said at the time of his arrests he didn’t know Solano and his wife Mayela Gutierrez knew each other. But, during his April trial, Gutierrez learned that his wife and Solano were Facebook friends. Solano testified under oath that he had “one communication” with Mayela, according to court documents.

Despite the Internet relationship with the suspect’s wife, Solano, a 29-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, investigated the case and testified against Gutierrez, according to court documents.

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Crime’s down … just not around here

Call this a round-up of sorts…

Sheriff Lee Baca says crime is down county-wide, except near Industry where homicides are up. 
Here’s a snippet:
Despite the mostly good news, there remain problems in some areas patrolled by the Sheriff’s Department. Most notably in the communities serviced by the Industry Station, violent crime is on the rise.

Moving on… Women have been targeted by robbers in Azusa and Baldwin Park.

Authorities said the same car was used in a robbery of an ice cream vendor in West Valinda and a 16-year-old boy in Rosemead on Monday.

The notorious Avenues gang gets hit again in a federal raid.

Pico Rivera’s fifth homicide is a whodunnit …just like the other four this year.

And, finally DNA catches a man suspected of raping a blind Norwalk woman in May. Here’s how he was caught:

DNA led to the arrest of a suspect in the May 1 rape of an 82-year-old legally blind woman, authorities said Monday.

Antonio Durell Freeman, 31, of Norwalk was booked Friday on suspicion of rape, kidnapping and burglary. He is being held at the sheriff’s Century Station in lieu of $1 million bail. He has a court appearance today at Bellflower Superior Court.

Freeman appeared in the DNA database after Long Beach Police arrested him July 11 on suspicion of spousal assault and took a DNA sample from him, according to Maxwell.

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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!
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Fishwrap Friday

A report in USA Today notes that the FBI claims criminal gangs are responsible for 80 percent of our nation’s crime. Here’s the story.

No Chargers in Industry this year, at least that’s a what a report in the San Diego Business Journal claims.

Local soldier Sgt. Hy Thai, of Monterey Park is profiled on News Blaze, for his work in Iraq.

Detroit cops slow to respond to reports of frozen body in abandoned warehouse, according to the Detroit News and the Associated Press, which cites the indifference of cops there as part of the city’s overall problem.

LASO unveils new technology in the pursuit of criminals.

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Shooting reported at TGIF in Industry * **

A man was reportedly shot at the TGIF restaurant Thursday night about 10:15, according to reports coming in over the newsroom scanner.

Its not clear what led to the shooting, but apparently the man’s wounds are not life threatening. We’ll have more on this story tomorrow a.m.

Here’s the details from a Sheriff’s broadcast at 10:30 p.m. Thursday:

245 GS reported at TGIF 17427 Colima Road in Industry. Vehicle is described as a Ford F150 partial plate of 8A last seen west bound on Colima

Suspect one described as 415g in 20s 6’1″ 230 pounds wearing a white shirt and jeans armed with a black .22 handgun

Suspect two male hispanic in 20s heavyset wearing a black sweater slicked black hair

Suspects fired at victim and yelled “Puente”

*Two now detained at gunpoint on Eschelon in La Puente (10:36 p.m.) They are believed to be suspects in the shooting.

** Situation now “code 4” (10:40 p.m.)



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Corruption and crime in the LA Sheriff’s Department **

The quarterly report on the Sheriff’s department filed by the County Office of Independent Review is a detailed list of investigations into a variety of miscounduct by employees of the Sheriff’s Department. Much of it never gets reported in the MSM.

There are stories of domestic violence, theft, beatings and sex with inmates at the county jail.

Interestingly enough there appears to be no mention of Industry Sgt. Joe Dyer, accused of embezzling something like $500,000 worth of towing fees from the City of La Puente. The case is under investigation by the Sheriff’s Internal Criminal Investigations Bureau, and reportedly has been refered to the OIR. *

* An anonymous caller points out that a similar incident is mentioned on page 8 of the report. It also says that it was turned over for prosecution but that the DA’s office rejected the case.

Here’s the text from that entry:

Subject allegedly removed money that the station had collected for traffic impound fees, and failed to follow protocols for collection and documentation of these funds. Investigation is complete; final resolution is pending. Criminal investigation failed to establish a basis for prosecution; Case rejected in July of ’07.

**Officials now say that was a separate case from another station. Apparently the problem is widespread in the sheriff’s department. Anyone want to bet that the policies for handling tow money is about to change? How many other cities have been shortchaged?

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