Former California police chief charged in CalPERS double-dipping fraud case

Criminal charges of grand theft have been brought against Greg Love, one of several Broadmoor Police Department chiefs and commanders that CalPERS said defrauded the pension system by collecting more than $2 million in excessive retirement payments. Another former chief, however, David Parenti, won’t be subject to any criminal prosecution. This despite CalPERS’ contention that he committed one of the largest frauds in its history. The pension plan said Parenti illegally received pension benefits of $1.8 million while with the 11-member department located 2 miles outside of San Francisco. The reason for a lack of criminal action? CalPERS misplaced the records for more than four years that detailed a complaint by a police officer at Broadmoor that his boss, Parenti, was double-dipping, collecting retirement benefits while drawing a salary as police chief and other positions, said San Mateo County Prosecutor Steve Wagstaffe. Wagstaffe said the four years is the statute of limitations for state criminal cases and CalPERS informed him of fraud violations in Parenti’s case only in 2021 after an audit of Broadmoor. That was more than four years after it received the original complaint about Parenti’s fraudulent behavior, Wagstaffe said.

“How they missed it is beyond me,” he said. “Purely on their failure to follow up on things is why Mr. Parenti is able to go free.” When The Bee reached out CalPERS officials, they did not address the missing complaint against Parenti. Instead, they disputed that the district attorney could have not proceeded criminally against him. “While charging decisions are the DA’s prerogative, we don’t necessarily agree that the statute of limitations has run in this case or that there aren’t other ways of pursuing this matter criminally,” CalPERS Chief Counsel Matt Jacobs said in a statement.

Jacobs didn’t go into specifics. Parenti’s civil attorney, Scott Kivel, said his client’s position is that he did not receive illegal retirement payments. CalPERS is seeking the return of the $1.8 it said that Parenti obtained fraudulently. Love, who was charged on November 15 by the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, collected around $700,000 in pension benefits after retiring from the police chief’s position in 2009 through 2012, Wagstaffe said. Love is scheduled to be arranged on December 9. His attorney Jeffrey Hayden did not respond to requests for comment. Love’s May 2009 retirement only lasted two days, even after receiving an unspecified workers compensation disability payout, which stipulated that he could no longer work as police chief, a CalPERS audit in 2021 showed. Love continued to be the full-time salaried police chief for Broadmoor through 2012 while continuing to collect the retirement benefits at the same time, the CalPERS audit determined. Wagstaffe said Love faces up to four years in prison. EQUAL JUSTICE? The District Attorney said he and his staff have had discussions about the different outcomes for Parenti and Love and whether that is fair. “Parenti is going to go free and Love is held accountable,” he said. “But in the end everyone gets evaluated individually. We have a job to do. We can’t try to even the playing field.” Wagstaffe, a long-time employee of the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office, said he has had frequent dealings with Love in their roles as law enforcement officers over the years. “He is not a bad person,” Wagstaffe said. “It was a bad act that violated the law. He violated CalPERS rules and has to be held accountable.” The DA said he did ask the U. S. Attorney’s Office in San Francisco to consider taking the criminal case against Parenti, because federal statute of limitations is six years, two years longer than the state rules, but officials refused without disclosing why. The Broadmoor police department audit by CalPERS in 2021 and subsequent CalPERS findings found that Parenti and Love committed most of the department’s alleged fraudulent retirement benefits, totaling $2.3 million. While Love was found by CalPERS to have collected retirement benefits and salary for three years from 2009 to 2012, Parenti was accused of defrauding the pension system for 12 years from 2007 to 2019. CalPERS contends the fraud included Parenti receiving workers compensation disability settlement from the Broadmoor Police Department of $108,500 on August 4, 2017. While the settlement should have ended Parenti’s career, he continued working as a commander for the department full-time for two more years. This occurred, the CalPERS 2021 audit said, while Parenti continued to receive retirement benefits. HOW DID CALPERS ERR? What remains a mystery is how CalPERS missed the original complaint against double-dipping at Broadmoor. The former Broadmoor police officer who told CalPERS of Parenti’s double-dipping, Steve Landi, said in a Bee interview in February that he had reported the fraud to the pension system in November 2016. “They were lining their pockets for years,” Landi said. “It’s corruption at its finest.” CalPERS had insisted to The Bee that it never received Landi’s complaint. Wagstaffe said CalPERS officials first denied to him that there was a previous complaint, insisting they learned of the Broadmoor fraud first during the 2021 audit. “CalPERS originally told us (in 2021) we knew nothing about this until a little while ago,” Wagstaffe said, referring to CalPERS audit findings that year. He said after his agency insisted CalPERS conduct a review: “They found the complaint from Landi in their records.” Wagstaffe said there was break-down at CalPERS that it missed the complaint of fraud for more than four years. “Ultimately, we pressed them and pressed them and pressed them and they looked at the records, and said oh yeah it (the double-dipping fraud) was reported to us by one of the other officers in Broadmoor.” Wagstaffe’s statements raise new questions about the effectiveness of CalPERS to root out double-dipping and other violations of pension system rules. AN EARLIER CONCERN Broadmoor was under scrutiny by CalPERS for failing to enroll some officers in the pension fund in 2017, CalPERS has previously disclosed, but not for the double dipping by top police personnel. Former CalPERs insider J.J. Jelinicic told the Bee in February that the CalPERS division that monitors employee enrollment issues has little coordination with another unit assigned to examine double-dipping and other state retirement rule violations. “The right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing,” said Jelincic, a former CalPERS investment staffer and board member. Even routine audits of CalPERS employer units, like the one that discovered problems at Broadmoor, are rare given the large size of the pension system, which covers more than 2 million active and retired members and has more than $430 billion in assets. Around 240 audits are done a year but there are around 3,000 separate employer units representing municipalities, special districts and school systems that are part of CalPERS. On that schedule, it would take 12 years for every CalPERS agency to be reviewed. The pension system also represents state employees. Broadmoor is one of the smallest of the 3,000 CalPERS employers. In fact, the Broadmoor Police Protection Department is an anomaly in the state of California. There is no town or city of Broadmoor. The police department covers an unincorporated part of San Mateo County of several square miles and is surrounded by Daly City on three sides and Colma on one side. It serves around 8,000 residents. While he is facing no criminal penalties, CalPERS continues to demand that Parenti return the $1.8 million in retirement benefits he received between 2007 and 2020 while working as a police chief and in other positions at Broadmoor. “We are continuing to aggressively address Mr. Parenti’s actions on the civil front,” said CalPERS Chief Counsel Jacobs in his statement. “We strongly believe he wrongly received some $1.8 million in retirement benefits and will continue to pursue repayments of those funds.”

Click here to read the full article at the Sacramento Bee

Sheriff: Killing of Kidnapped California Family Pure Evil’

The suspect in the kidnapping and killings of an 8-month-old baby, her parents and an uncle had worked for the family’s trucking business and had a longstanding feud with them that culminated in an act of “pure evil,” a sheriff said Thursday.

The bodies of Aroohi Dheri; her mother Jasleen Kaur, 27; father Jasdeep Singh, 36; and uncle Amandeep Singh, 39, were found by a farm worker late Wednesday in an almond orchard in a remote area in the San Joaquin Valley, California’s agricultural heartland.

Investigators were preparing a case against the suspect — a convicted felon who tried to kill himself a day after the kidnappings — and sought a person of interest believed to be his accomplice. Relatives and fellow members of the Punjabi Sikh community, meanwhile, were shocked by the killings.

“Right now, I’ve got hundreds of people in a community that are grieving the loss of two families, and this is worldwide. These families are across different continents,” Merced County Sheriff Vern Warnke told The Associated Press. “We’ve got to show them that we can give them justice.”

The suspect, 48-year-old Jesus Salgado, was released from the hospital and booked into the county jail Thursday night on suspicion of kidnapping and murder, the Sheriff’s Office said. It wasn’t clear if he had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf.

Earlier, Warnke called for prosecutors to seek the death penalty. The sheriff called it one of the worst crimes he has seen over his 43 years in law enforcement and pleaded for Salgado’s accomplice to turn himself in.

“There’s some things you’ll take to the grave. This to me was pure evil,” he said in an interview Thursday.

The city of Merced, where the family’s trucking business was located, will hold evening vigils in their memory Thursday through Sunday. The victims’ bodies were found near the town of Dos Palos, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of Merced.

Warnke on Thursday would not discuss the condition of the adults’ remains in the orchard but said it was unclear how the baby died. Warnke said the child had no visible trauma and an autopsy will be conducted.

Salgado was previously convicted of first-degree robbery with the use of a firearm in Merced County, attempted false imprisonment and an attempt to prevent or dissuade a victim or witness. Sentenced to 11 years in state prison in that case, he was released in 2015 and discharged from parole three years later, according to the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He also has a conviction for possession of a controlled substance, the department said.

Relatives of Salgado contacted authorities and told them he had admitted to them his involvement in the kidnapping, Warnke told KFSN-TV on Tuesday. Salgado tried to take his own life before police arrived at a home in Atwater — where an ATM card belonging to one of the victims was used after the kidnapping — about 9 miles (14 kilometers) north of Merced. Efforts to reach Salgado’s family were unsuccessful Thursday.

The victims were Punjabi Sikhs, a community in central California that has a significant presence in the trucking business with many of them driving trucks, owning trucking companies or other businesses associated with trucking.

Public records show the family owns Unison Trucking Inc. and relatives said they had opened an office in the last few weeks in a parking lot the Singh brothers also operated. The feud with Salgado dated back a year, the sheriff said, and “got pretty nasty” in text messages or emails. Other details about Salgado’s employment and the nature of the dispute were not immediately available.

Warnke said he believes the family was killed within an hour of the Monday morning kidnapping, when they were taken at gunpoint from their business.

Surveillance video showed the suspect — later identified as Salgado — leading the Singh brothers, who had their hands zip-tied behind their backs, into the back seat of Amandeep Singh’s pickup truck. He drove the brothers away and returned several minutes later.

The suspect then went back to the trailer that served as the business office and led Jasleen Kaur, who was carrying her baby in her arms, out and into the truck before the suspect drove them away shortly before 9:30 a.m.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

2 Fallen El Monte Officers Honored As ‘Brave Men’ at Vigil

Hundreds of San Gabriel Valley residents joined Saturday evening with public servants to unite at a vigil with family members of two slain El Monte police officers, who were remembered for their bravery and commitment to the community.

The sudden, violent loss of the two respected officers, Cpl. Michael Domingo Paredes, 42, and Officer Joseph Anthony Santana, 31 — both killed when they encountered a gunman inside the Siesta Inn on Garvey Avenue on Tuesday, June 14 — has shaken the overwhelmingly Latino community in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley.

“It’s unfortunate it takes tragedy to bring the community together. However, I am grateful that we are here to mourn the lives of these two brave men,” Mayor Jessica Ancona told the mourners Saturday gathered at the city’s Civic Center.

“They pursued their dreams and they did it with you — the family and the community,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis, speaking in Spanish and English. “The community is standing with you.”

The pair of beloved officers were responding to a call about a possible stabbing just before 5 p.m. the day they died, officials said. They immediately came under gunfire and were taken to LAC + USC Medical Center, where they died. The suspect they encountered, Justin Flores, 35, also died in a shootout with police.

Both officers, raised in El Monte, had a strong connection to the community, according to  mourners who added to a collection of flowers and messages of thanks at the police station this week.

Paredes had served as a full-time officer with the department since July 2000, working several specialized assignments before achieving the rank of corporal, officials said. He started his law enforcement career as a cadet with El Monte police.

Santana initially joined the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department in September 2018 and worked at  the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga, Sgt. M. Higgins, a SBCSD spokeswoman said. He was hired by the El Monte Police Department in 2021. He also previously worked with the city as a part-time public works employee prior to his law enforcement career.

He leaves behind his wife, a daughter and two twin boys.

Paredes also leaves behind his wife, a daughter and a son.

Olga Garcia, the mother of Santana, earlier this week described him as a reserved person who shared his relentless, cutting sense of dry humor with those he was close with. He liked to play basketball, was generous with his time when off-duty and always eager to help a friend in need.

While growing up, Santana looked up to his stepfather, who was also an El Monte police officer, his mother said. That relationship inspired him to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Like Santana, Paredes was also compelled to give back to the city that raised him, his uncle, Tony Paredes, said. He said that, as a child, the El Monte officer was kind,  attentive and respected his elders.

He recalled when his nephew approached him about joining the police academy in the late ’90s and asked him to write a letter recommending the then-aspiring officer to the department.

Mayor Ancona was teary Saturday night and earlier this week, as were many others throughout town, as she explained how the sudden, violent deaths of the city’s sons has left her community reeling.

“Heartbroken doesn’t begin to express the loss that we feel,” Ancona said Tuesday night. She noted both officers were “essentially ambushed while trying to keep a family safe.”

El Monte City Councilwoman Victoria Martinez Muela at the vigil offered condolences to the officers’ families.

When thinking about what she wanted to say Saturday, she started thinking about what provides comfort.

“A blanket,” said Martinez Muela. And like one beautiful tapestry, “all of us our own unique thread. But woven together we are so strong.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

Hundreds Turn Out To Honor HB Officer Nicholas Vella At Honda Center Memorial Service

Hundreds of police officers from all over California gathered at the Honda Center in Anaheim today to honor their fallen comrade Nicholas Vella, the Huntington Beach police officer who died in the line of duty on February 19 when the HBPD helicopter he was flying crashed offshore in Newport Beach.

The nearly four-hour memorial service was a homage to Officer Vella’s character, love of family, devotion to law enforcement and community, given by his family and fellow officers.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Orange, Kevin Vann, presided over the memorial service inside the Honda Center. Vella was eulogized by a procession of family and fellow officers.

One of Vella’s friends and fellow officer, Francisco Jimenez, told the assembled throng how Vella always “sticking up for the little guy, the underdog.”

“Nick hated bullies and wanted to protect those who were not able to protect themselves. Protecting people was in Nick’s DNA, and he loved helping others,” said Jimenez. “So it’s easy to see why Nick decided to take the path that he did.”

A common theme in every eulogy was Vella’s smile.

“Every time you saw him, he had this infectious smile on his face,” recalled Jimenez. “That smile, that little smirk with those sad puppy dog eyes, looking at you that smile that I can’t get out of my head. And I will never forget.”

READ: Huntington Beach Police Chopper Crashes In Water In Newport; One Officer Dead, Another Seriously Injured

Vella’s father-in-law, Ron Tovar, spoke of how Vella changed his family when he married Tovar’s daughter Kristi.

“When he came into our family, he just changed our family. It became different. Right away, he became a stable pillar,” said Tovar. “He always just had this peaceful thing about him. He showed us by way of his actions and his deeds. He demonstrated honesty, integrity and patience.”

Tovar talked about Vella’s special devotion to his teenage daughter Dylan, and what he did, few days before his death, to make Valentine’s Day special for her.

“He went to Dylan’s school and stood there in the parking lot with a rose. To give to Dylan,” said Tovar. “I wish I would have thought of that when my kids were in school. But how heartfelt. How loving. How caring.”

Read the full article at the OC Independent

Biden’s First Year In Office Saw 73 Police Officers Killed – Most Deaths Since 1995

More cops were killed in the line of duty during President Biden’s first year of office than any other year since 1995 — and a law-enforcement group says the driving force is the growing anti-cop sentiment, according to a new report.

Seventy-three officers were intentionally killed in the line of duty in 2021 — a nearly 59 percent increase over 2020, when 46 cops were murdered, Fox News reported Sunday, citing the FBI’s database on officers killed in action.

“We believe it’s a combination … of the George Floyd protests — riots, if you will; a general feeling of a preference for less law enforcement; and less prosecution and less policing,” Jason Johnson, president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund​ ​and a 20-year police veteran​, told Fox News.​

“Law enforcement officers have essentially been marginalized and demoralized and cast aside and encouraged now to enforce the law. And so we’ve seen massive jumps in the homicide rate in cities across America​,” he said. 

Johnson noted that “it’s natural” that rising homicide rates in the US have “also resulted in many more officers being assaulted because … a lot of leaders in these cities and leaders in Congress and leaders in the White House have really voiced a lack of respect for law enforcement officers.”

Click here to read the full article at the NY POST

Assembly Passes Stricter Police Use-of-Force Bill

For the second year in a row, a sweeping police reform measure that law-enforcement organizations said was motivated by antipathy toward peace officers has been embraced by the state Legislature.

Last year lawmakers passed Senate Bill 1421 by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley. It required police agencies to release information on officer discipline records – treating these records the same as many others that are routinely released to the public under government openness laws. California’s police disclosure rules previously had been among the strictest in the nation.

This year, Assembly Bill 392, by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, appears headed for passage after being approved 67-0 by the Assembly on Wednesday. It says officers may only use lethal force if it is “necessary” for public safety. Existing law says officers can use such force if they believe it is “reasonable” to ensure public safety. While provisions in Assembly Bill 392 were dropped to persuade law enforcement organizations to end their opposition and take a neutral stand – as they did last week – the ACLU says the bill will create among the strictest use-of-force standards of any state.

These organizations were lobbied by Gov. Gavin Newsom to accept Assembly Bill 392. After their decision to go neutral was announced, Newsom, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon and Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins issued a joint statement endorsing Weber’s bill, seemingly guaranteeing its eventual approval.

The passage of the two reform measures would have been impossible to imagine earlier this century. Law enforcement unions had tight relationships with most elected Democrats, the same as with unions for teachers, nurses, service workers and government bureaucrats, providing them with heavy campaign contributions.

Gov. Gray Davis’ 2001 decision to give prison guards a five-year, 37 percent raise after its union helped him get elected in 1998 drew sharp blow-back from good-government advocates and newspaper editorial boards, especially after the 2003 revelationthat Davis had badly underestimated the long-term cost of the labor deal. It was among the issues that helped lead to his unprecedented recall later that year.

2004 CHP scandal downplayed by state leaders

But the clout of law enforcement was again on display a year later. In 2004, the Sacramento Bee broke the story of a pervasive workers’ compensation scam in the upper reaches of the California Highway Patrol. The Bee found that 55 of the 65 senior CHP officers who had retired since 2000 had filed workers’ comp claims – with some citing injuries never reported while they were on the job. Their disability claims were routinely approved, sharply increasing their retirement benefits.

CHP Commissioner Dwight “Spike” Helmick agreed to retire after the “Chiefs Disease” scandal broke, then added to it by also claiming he was disabled because of vehicle accidents in the 1970s and 1980s. But neither the Legislature or Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger – who courted and won law enforcement support – agreed with calls to bring in an outside reformer to run the agency. Instead, Schwarzenegger chose Mike Brown, one of Helmick’s top aides.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer declined to prosecute the case, citing conflicts of interest because of his office’s close ties to the CHP. The case was assigned to Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully. But in 2007, she closed the investigation without bringing any charges. Scully said CHP officials and former officials were “unable or unwilling” to testify about the pension-spiking scheme. The story faded from the headlines.

But ties between lawmakers and police unions have weakened since then as the national outcry has grown over alleged police mistreatment of minorities, especially a series of fatal shootings of young African-American men in questionable circumstances. The California Democratic Party has also had an influx of newly elected progressive lawmakers who dislike the aggressive, confrontational policing style adopted by many departments after it was credited with reducing crime in New York City in the 1990s under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Recent analyses of how Assembly Bill 392 overcame the obstacles that doomed a similar bill last year have focused on the March 2018 fatal shooting of Stephon Clark, an unarmed black father of two, in Sacramento.

The announcement two months ago that no officer would face charges for Clark’s death triggered an outcry so intense it became a national and international story that appeared to give Weber’s bill new momentum.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

California police unions are preparing to battle new transparency law in the courtroomc


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The Fredericksburg, Va. Police Department has introduced the use portable video camera devices worn by all on-duty officers. The Taser Axon Flex is the product in use. (Copyright, Robert A. Martin/Freelance)

Just as a landmark police transparency law is going into effect, some California police agencies are shredding internal affairs documents and law enforcement unions are rushing to block the information from being released.

The new law, which begins to unwind California’s strictest-in-the-nation protections over the secrecy of law enforcement records, opens to the public internal investigations of officer shootings and other major uses of force, along with confirmed cases of sexual assault and lying while on duty. But the lawsuits and records destruction, which began even before the law took effect Jan. 1, could tie up the release of information for months or years, and in some instances, prevent it from ever being disclosed.

“The fact that police unions are challenging this law is on some level not surprising,” said Peter Bibring, director of police practices at the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, one of the principal supporters of the new law. “They have a long history of fighting tooth and nail against transparency.”

Before this year, the public couldn’t access police disciplinary records outside of a courtroom. The same prohibitions, which were first put into place four decades ago after a push from police unions, applied to prosecutors as well. California was the only state in the nation where that was the case. …

Click here to read the full article from the L.A. Times

Recent Prop. 47 Study and Article Fail to Give Full Analysis on Crime in California


Police tapeMore people are leaving California than entering; so the question is why? Could it be higher than national average home prices, unfriendly family policies or could it be the possible uptick in crime? Underlying social pressures highlight the difficulty of staying in California and the continuance of progressive, Democratic voters to not look at the reality of what’s plaguing our state. But the patterns of who’s moving in, and who’s moving out, underline some of the social and economic pressure that have made California, and other coastal areas, so prohibitively expensive; but also progressively unsafe.

If you believe a recent article by Sal Rodriguez in the OC Register who quotes a study by University of California Irvine (UCI) professor of criminology, law & society, Charis Kubrin that concludes, “Prop. 47, didn’t have any significant uptick on crime,” then why are so many Californians complaining about increased crime while others are fleeing the state?

Before raising troubling aspects about this study, what does one part of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s office, have to say about the Prop. 47 numbers? According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department’s Crescenta Valley Station (www.CrescentaValley.LASD.org) here are the facts about Prop. 47:

“Following the implementation of AB 109 & Prop. 47, communities across California have experienced increases in property related crimes. An 8.1% increases across the State and a 10% increase in LA County.”

So whom do you believe – Professor Kubrin and Sal Rodriguez – or the men and women who do actual law enforcement? What Professor Kubrin doesn’t point out is how Prop. 47 downgraded serious crimes such as “drug possession, repeated shoplifting, forging checks, gun theft and possession of date-rape drugs,” which were all felonies before Prop. 47’s passage. The Sheriff’s Department also states:

“A criminal can engage in recurring theft activity as long as the value of what is stolen during each theft is less than $950. Illegal drugs – including cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine – have been reclassified as a misdemeanor.”

Professor Kubrin and Mr. Rodriguez – neither one – asked, studied or considered why homelessness is on the rise in Los Angeles and Los Angeles County in general though voters and Democratic elected officials have attempted to address this growing issue. Drive through downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica or San Francisco and witness the amount of strung-out homeless to belie the fact that higher dollar amounts for felonies means what once landed an addict into drug rehabilitation programs now puts them back onto the streets to the detriment of the individual, businesses, neighborhood safety and communities-at-large.

Furthermore, what the UCI study doesn’t take into affect is how Prop. 57 (the ‘Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act’) and Assembly Bill 109 (released 45,000 felons from California prisons) were passed simultaneously in 2016. To study one without factoring in the other is biased, negligent and misleading. Mr. Rodriguez and Professor Kubrin, who authored the study, should have known better, also this was nothing more than an agenda-driven piece to appeal to a lowest common denominator that will assist more Democrats being elected in 2018.

Take Prop. 57, according to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst’s Office, Prop. 57:

“Allows the State to release 30,000 criminals convicted of ‘non-violent,’ felonies and classifies these crimes as non-violent: rape by intoxication, rape of unconscious person, human trafficking involving sex act with minors, drive-by shooting, assault with a deadly weapon, hate crimes causing physical injury, and corporal injury to a child.”

Mr. Rodriguez didn’t report this and Professor Kubrin didn’t add Prop. 57 or AB 109 into her study. Shoddy research is what can be taken away from her study by not including these official reclassifying of crimes that were once felonies. Now add AB 109, which requires local jails –that don’t have the money, resources or ability – to house violent felons and what takes place is tens of thousands of supposedly low-level convicted felons back on the street; but this wasn’t added into her study or Mr. Rodriguez’s article as well. AB 109 has now taken criminals with serious felony violations and placed them in local jails instead of state prisons.

Disgust though lies at the feet of Professor Kubrin’s misleading and faulty research methods. First when you click on the actual study on the UCI website you are only given a Fact Sheet whose graphs are barely readable without being defined, definitions not put into context with Prop. 47, and most importantly on this “Fact Sheet,” how independent and dependent variables are calculated. As someone who has done studies, regressions and econometrics there is nothing of the sort in Professor Kubrin’s study.

She then states and Mr. Rodriguez blithely reports on a variable defined as “synthetic California,” that is part of the “Synthetic Control Group Study Design,” which reminds me of graduate and undergraduate studies and degree in economics where microeconomics is defined as having, “perfect competition.” Anyone who has ever held a job or attempted a business in the marketplace knows there is no such thing as “perfect competition,” just as there isn’t such a concept as “synthetic California.” And when you read the Fact Sheet the reader will find the study isn’t completed so that makes Mr. Rodriguez’s reporting misleading at best and a fire able offense at worst for so grossly understating the problems as public record.

Understanding regressions is very important, because Professor Kubrin states there was no causation or even correlation when she either doesn’t know what she’s doing running regressions or isn’t telling the truth on purpose. Regressions are used in econometrics and statistical analysis and goes back to high school geometry using the formula Y=mx+b where Y is the dependent variable and mx+b are the independent variables that either move the Y variable (causation) or merely cause them to move together along a regression line (correlation). If Professor Kubrin, Mr. Rodriguez and the entire UCI department of criminology, law & society doesn’t include AB 109 and Prop. 57 into their regressions or econometric studies then it doesn’t pass confidence interval levels. A fancy, boring regression term for how something has to be at least true 90% of the time to even warrant mentioning; and then it scales up to 95% and 99%.

To say Prop. 47 doesn’t show causation is irresponsible and she should be demoted or be made to take a graduate level econometrics and statistics for public policy analysis course. I took both and Professor Kubrin is doing the level of work that would get her kicked out of class, graduate school or possibly brought up on charges of plagiarism for gross academic violations.

Run the regressions, report on the economic analysis; and more importantly factor into the study and regressions the affects of felonious crimes going from $250 up to $950 as a variable and watch the causation affects of Prop. 47 coupled with AB 109 and Prop. 57 move upwards on the regression line into the 99% confidence interval level is what I’d predict. This is why people don’t trust universities and academics such as Drs. Victor Davis Hanson and Walter Williams believe most colleges outside of the hard sciences (accounting, engineering and medicine) have lost their way. Professor Kubrin proves that’s the case and Mr. Rodriguez shows bush league reporting without checking his sources. Next time, before reporting something, make sure the study has actually been published and more recent data was used for the study and article. Laughingly, the data used by UCI, Professor Kubrin and Mr. Rodriguez came from 2015. California should trust the L.A. County Sheriff Department over this worthless study.

Todd Royal is a geopolitical risk and energy consultant based in Los Angeles.

Prop. 57: Judicial Depravity in California


Police tapeIn November 2016, California voters passed Proposition 57, the Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act. Championed by Governor Jerry Brown, the measure expanded parole possibilities for nonviolent offenders and barred prosecutors from filing juvenile cases in adult court. Last month, California’s Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 57 could be applied retroactively. On those grounds, California’s Third Court of Appeals “conditionally reversed” the conviction of one of the most violent criminals in state history and expanded his prospects for early release.

Daniel Marsh was just 15 on April 14, 2013, when he broke into the Davis home of 87-year-old Oliver “Chip” Northup, an attorney and popular bluegrass musician, and his 76-year-old wife, Claudia Maupin, a pastoral associate at the Davis Unitarian Church, where the couple met. A police report said that the two were killed “in a way that manifested exceptional depravity,” which was no exaggeration. The autopsy report runs 16 pages and 6,658 words, noting that the murderer stabbed Maupin 67 times and Northup 61 times. Marsh disemboweled both victims; he placed a cell phone inside the corpse of Maupin and a drinking glass inside Northup.

In his lengthy interview with police, Marsh said that Maupin told him to “please stop.” Marsh kept on stabbing because “she just wouldn’t die.” The stabbing “just felt right,” and the double murder and mutilations, Marsh said, “felt amazing,” gave him “pure happiness,” and “the most exhilarating enjoyable feeling I’ve ever felt.” He inserted the phone and glass to throw investigators off track, and when police accused him of the murders, his first response was “I’m a kid.” Marsh’s public defender sought to have the confession tossed, but Judge David Reed rejected that bid. Marsh then offered an insanity defense, bringing in expert witness James Merikangas, a psychologist and neurologist, who claimed that Marsh was in a “dissociative state” when he killed.

Prosecutors Michael Cabral and Amanda Zambor made the case that Marsh was sane at the time of the murders; a Yolo County jury agreed, and in December 2014, Judge David Reed sentenced Marsh to 52 years to life in state prison. The killer received an additional year for use of a knife, but got no extra time for lying in wait or committing torture. The double murderer, now 20, would be eligible for parole after 25 years, when he would be in his early forties.

On February 1, 2018, the California Supreme Court addressed the case of Pablo Lara, a juvenile charged with kidnapping and raping a seven-year-old girl. The court ruled that Proposition 57 “applies retroactively,” because “the possibility of being treated as a juvenile in juvenile court — where rehabilitation is the goal — rather than being tried and sentenced as an adult can result in dramatically different and more lenient treatment.” Proposition 57 “reduces the possible punishment for a class of persons, namely juveniles,” and therefore, the court ruled, Proposition 57 “applies to all juveniles charged directly in adult court whose judgment was not final at the time it was enacted.”

On February 22, the Third Court of Appeals ruled that the case of Daniel Marsh “was not fully briefed until July 2017.” Therefore, “this initiative applies retroactively to defendant’s pending appeal, and that we must conditionally reverse for proceeding in juvenile court.” So all that painstaking work by Cabral and Zambor has been set aside by a three-judge panel headed by Kathleen Butz, an appointee of Governor Gray Davis. Also on the panel was Jerry Brown appointee Cole Blease, former attorney for the California Teachers Association. The appeal ruling does not name Northup and Maupin, the victims of the savage and pointless murder.

A proceeding will determine if Marsh was indeed suitable for trial in adult court. If so, the court will restore Marsh’s conviction for the two murders. If not, he will be re-sentenced as a juvenile and face a maximum punishment of incarceration until age 25. Whatever one chooses to call it, the proceeding is clearly a new trial for a sadist who has never shown the slightest remorse for his savage actions. In 2014, when the court declined to toss Marsh’s detailed confession, Maupin’s daughter Victoria Hurd said that the decision “restores faith in humanity in the midst of this depravity.” In 2018, when Hurd got word of the reversal, she told the Sacramento Bee: “This is so wrong. It’s come barreling back into our presence.”

Marsh is not the only shut-and-open case in the Proposition 57 pipeline. According to California’s attorney general, there were 71,923 juvenile arrests in 2015, 29.7 percent of which were for felonies. Five hundred and sixty-six juveniles were tried in adult court, and 88 percent were convicted. YOUNG MAN CONVICTED IN 2014 MURDER WANTS NEW TRIAL AFTER PROP. 57 PASSES, read a headline in the San Diego Union-Tribune about Kurese Bell, convicted of murder at age 17. PROP. 57 COULD TURN BACK TIME FOR MINORS CHARGED WITH MURDER, the Lompoc Record announced.

As with the case of Daniel Marsh, these judicial reconsiderations will have nothing to do with potentially exculpatory evidence or errors in trial; they are politically and ideologically driven attempts to overturn legal and proper verdicts. Relatives of Claudia Maupin, Oliver Northup, or other victims have good reason to see these efforts as perverse, even depraved.

Innovative Incarceration Could Result in Lower Costs and Safer Citizens


PrisonThe average annual cost to house a prisoner in California is $71,000, and according to the California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, the cost has risen 45% since just 2011. And as costs have soared, California’s policymakers have resorted to creative ways to release inmates from California’s overcrowded prisons. But what if that Californian creativity could be harnessed to lower the cost of incarceration?

This process began in 2011, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that California must reduce its state prison population to no more than 137% of its design capacity within two years. In an attempt to comply, the state Legislature passed Assembly Bill 109, which required non-violent, non-serious, and non-sexual offenders with sentences of longer than one year to be housed in county jail facilities rather than state prisons.

Because AB109, the so-called prison “realignment,” merely shifted costs for incarceration from the state to the counties, two additional measures of significance were passed in an attempt to reduce the overall inmate population. These were sold to voters as reform initiatives, and both of them passed with substantial majorities. Prop. 47, passed in 2014, reclassified several felonies as misdemeanors, which had the effect of reducing prison sentences in new cases, and earlier release for prisoners sentenced for crimes no longer classified as felonies. Prop. 57, passed in 2016, granted early release opportunities to inmates with good behavior who had committed non-violent crimes.

These measures resulted in the early release of tens of thousands of inmates onto California’s streets. Since enactment, violent crime has increased in California, although the data is mixed. For example, according to the FBI, while violent crime in California increased in 2015 and 2016, it increased across most of the U.S. in those years. As stated in a recent study by the Public Policy Institute of California, “California’s violent crime rate increased by 3.7% in 2016 to 444 per 100,000 residents. There have been other recent upticks in 2012 and 2015, but the statewide rate is still comparable to levels in the late 1960s.”

More recently – most crime statistics for 2017 are not yet available – the L.A. Times reports that in 2017 “in Los Angeles, homicides are down, but violent crime is up.” A big picture perspective on crime trends in California can be seen in this graphic produced by Politifact.com using data from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office:

California Crime Trends – Crime Rates per 100,000 Residents

California Crime Trends

As can be seen, rates of crime in California rose throughout the 60s and 70s, reaching a high plateau that lasted right up until around 1994, when California passed the three strikes law. After that, crime rates fell precipitously for years, reaching historic lows. Since 2014, rates of crime have been rising, even though they remain relatively low from a historical perspective.

But why should we be happy with a 0.4% rate of violent crime? Why should 4% of Californians be victimized by a violent criminal in any given decade? And who’s to say that crime rates would not have continued to decline, if it weren’t for the passage of Props. 47 and 57?

More to the point, whether or not Californians should or should not incarcerate more criminals, or impose longer sentences on criminals, Californians don’t have that option. Because it costs too much to house prisoners in California. How can California house more inmates without building more conventional prisons, which are staggeringly expensive?

An excellent resource prepared by BackgroundChecks.org shows the costs per prisoner in other states. Nevada, our neighbor to the east, only spends $17,851 per year per prisoner. Alabama has the lowest cost, at $14,780 per prisoner. Arizona, $25,397. Even Oregon and Washington, California’s left coast comrades in bloated inefficient government excess, manage to spend far less than California does, paying per prisoner costs of $44,021 and $37,841, respectively.

Why?

When you read up on costs per prisoner in other states, the results are somewhat amusing. Because in those states, the conventional wisdom is that costs are out of control. Alabama’s costs per prisoner have “doubled since 2003.” In Nevada, “overtime costs continue to mount.” Imagine that. But in all states, the same factors contribute to rising costs to house prisoners. California just spends more, in every category. Here is a table from California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office showing details of the cost per prisoner.

California’s Costs per Prisoner – Itemized Costs

Costs per prisoner

It’s likely these costs are understated. Does “Security” include the additional amounts that will be necessary to properly fund the pensions that are due our correctional officers? Does “Facility Operations” include the payments on the billions that have been borrowed by the state to construct California’s 34 state prisons?

In the recently approved California state budget for 2017-18, $11.4 billion is allocated to the Department of Corrections, up another $286 million (2.6%) from last year. But again, this doesn’t begin to represent the true cost to taxpayers. A recent UCLA study estimated the cost of incarceration for just the County of Los Angeles at nearly $1.0 billion last year.

It’s likely the total cost to California’s taxpayers to incarcerate criminals – taking into account state and local expenses – is easily twice the $11.4 billion budgeted by the state. And these inflated costs can be attributed to two causes. First, the excessive costs caused by unionized government – pensions in particular, and excessive costs to build state prisons, caused by a union controlled state legislature requiring needlessly expensive project labor agreements. Second, and arguably even more significant, the overall excessive cost-of-living in California – also a byproduct of policies enacted by California’s union controlled state legislature – which makes everything more expensive.

The burden of realignment – foisting responsibility for state prisoners back onto the counties where they were convicted – is also an opportunity. Because counties, like states in our federal system, are laboratories of democracy, laboratories of policy. Why can’t California’s counties experiment with new modes of incarceration. If inmates are sequestered to Cal Fire to work the fire lines, why can’t they do other tasks throughout the rural regions of California? Why not use inmates to improve rural access roads, remove dead trees from our drought-stressed forests, or even work in agriculture?

While many inmates may be too dangerous to do this sort of work, with new technologies to monitor and control prisoners, it is possible that prisoners who would not be viable candidates for these programs in the past would be qualified today. Electronic monitoring devices are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Why not use these devices to monitor not only location, but heart rate or, who knows, even brain waves or other physical indicators of imminent fight or flight? Wouldn’t adding additional capabilities to these devices allow more effective means to deter escape and even prevent violence? Why not use swarms of inexpensive drones to hover in the vicinity of inmates, reducing the number of guards required, and replacing some or all layers of expensive security fencing? Why not equip these drones with nonlethal means to prevent escape or violence?

Law enforcement has stayed abreast of new technologies and that is one of the reasons rates of crime are down sharply across America. While the impact of new technologies must be constantly scrutinized, and some of them may be problematic, there is no reason not to extend these tools beyond law enforcement into the corrections industry. It’s reasonable to assume most inmates would prefer a virtual prison to the penitentiary. One that afforded them mobility, equal or greater safety, a mission, a chance to engage in a vocation, and fresh air. Such innovation might also bring welcome relief to taxpayers.