Rod Pacheco, Riverside DA shenanigans

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Rod Pacheco, Riverside DA shenanigans

Post by Benny's Friend » Thu Apr 16, 2009 9:27 pm

In advance of this Sunday's 884 test raid I thought it might be fun to share this news article that connects some interesting dots within the ranks of Riverside County's political infrastructure. The relevant bits are highlighted, but the entire article is a fascinating read. ... bccc0.html

District attorney's style sparks praise, criticism -- and fear
FIRST YEAR: Some laud his high-profile anti-crime initiatives and refusal to cut deals. Others fear he alienates too many -- including some on his own team.

07:47 PM PST on Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Press-Enterprise


PDF: Timeline of Pacheco's first year in office

PDF: Staff contributions to Pacheco's campaign

PDF: Growing number of criminal cases in Riverside County

PDF: Timeline of Pacheco's political and legal career

PDF: Expansion of the Riverside County district attorney's office

Hundreds of miles from the California statehouse, former Assemblyman Rod Pacheco has completed his first year as Riverside County's district attorney and is building a reputation steeped in respect and fear.

Pacheco is no longer a single voice in an 80-member Assembly. He is the top law enforcer in California's third-largest district attorney's office and the state's fourth-most-populous county. Pacheco wields authority over a $96.4 million annual budget and his office reviewed 56,000 cases in 2007.

Pacheco's position of power has earned him high praise from some, sown fear among others and sparked plenty of criticism.

The complex 49-year-old leader has proved to be no ordinary law enforcement officer since taking over from his longtime mentor, District Attorney Grover Trask.

Pacheco, Trask's handpicked successor, spent his first year in office launching a crackdown on sex offenders, issuing the county's first gang injunction and recommending local governments retrieve badges from their employees such as code enforcement and animal control officers and members of the public he believes are not allowed to have them. He also targeted the badges carried by some security guards.

Pacheco won't compromise his firm stance against considering plea agreements for suspects facing trial, and he is unwilling to shoulder any responsibility for Riverside County's overburdened courts, sparking backlash from judges and defense attorneys. Riverside County Public Defender Gary Windom said Pacheco doesn't recognize that family law and probate courts that settle custody disputes and protect the rights of the vulnerable also play a role in the public safety system.

"It's not just about us, and especially the district attorney has to understand that concept," Windom said.

His top-down management style has spurred the departure of several senior lawyers, leaving less-experienced staff members to handle complicated court cases.

Friends and foes agree that Pacheco can be charming, eloquent and quick-witted and, when he feels challenged, can become cold, vindictive and bombastic. The result is a climate of fear among Inland politicians, a number of whom refused to be quoted in this article and others who would not speak to reporters at all.

Pacheco declined repeated requests to be interviewed in the month of December, saying through his spokeswoman, Ingrid Wyatt, that he was on vacation. He did not answer specific questions given to Wyatt and Sue Steding, his chief assistant district attorney. However, he did make public appearances last month, including attending a Hanukkah candle-lighting ceremony in downtown Riverside and various county meetings.

Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco has been on the job for slightly more than a year, and in that time, the former assemblyman has launched a crackdown on sex offenders and issued the county's first gang injunction.

Last Wednesday, he notified the newspaper that he would be available at 3 p.m. Friday, well past the deadline for this story.

Pacheco earned high praise in the California Assembly for his skilled questioning of witnesses testifying before legislative committees, but he failed to anticipate the consequences of making public comments that alienated state and federal lawmakers. He was ousted as leader of the Assembly Republicans in 1999 after serving for five months. His tenure in the Assembly was highlighted by bills aimed at education, crime and police officer safety.

Those who know Pacheco well say he returned from Sacramento in 2002 discouraged and angry about his inability to bring widespread change.

Supporters such as Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone say Pacheco is a "shining star" with potential to make a career on the national political stage. They applaud Pacheco's uncompromising view of the law, his pursuit of justice for crime victims and repeated calls for stiffer punishment for criminals and gang members.

"I believe Rod will go down in history as being one of our finer district attorneys," said Stone, whose son Jason Stone works as a deputy district attorney in the prosecutor's southwestern Riverside County office.

Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff said collaboration and a willingness to form partnerships with other law enforcement leaders are hallmarks of Pacheco's administrative style. Sniff's wife, Jennifer, is a forensics technician in the district attorney's office.

"He is extremely focused on integrity issues and doing what's right rather than doing things that are expedient," Sniff said.

Pacheco's talents as a prosecutor are well-known. He successfully prosecuted five death-penalty cases when he was a deputy district attorney.

Where friends and foes part ways is on the question of whether the district attorney uses his skills to exact revenge on people he believes have been disloyal to him.

"It is without question, if you had a bad guy, there's probably few better than Rod Pacheco to prosecute and put them in prison," said Scott Baugh, who served in the Assembly with Pacheco in the 1990s. "The scary part is, he has a difficult time distinguishing between the good and the bad guys."

Rise to Power

Pacheco won his Assembly seat in 1996. Then 37 and a Riverside County deputy district attorney, he defeated three fellow Republicans by wide margins in the primary. Running in an overwhelmingly Republican district, he breezed through the general election in November and became the first Latino Republican elected to the Assembly in more than 100 years.

Pacheco doesn't speak Spanish and didn't actively campaign on his ethnicity, but his history-making election earned widespread attention and mention in national newspapers.

He is a man of modest beginnings. The son of an enlisted military man, he was raised in San Bernardino and attended Aquinas High School, where he was treasurer for the Associated Student Body and a member of the Thespians group.

When Pacheco left for Sacramento, he had a bachelor's degree from UC Riverside, where he had served in the student Senate; a law degree from the University of San Diego; 12 years of experience as a prosecutor; and a drive to advance his career. He quickly became vice chairman of the Republican Caucus in the Assembly and vice chairman of the Education Committee.

Pacheco was named to additional committees and had the distinction of getting then-Gov. Pete Wilson to travel to Riverside to sign two Pacheco bills into law. The legislation boosted sentences for attempted murder and second-degree murder of peace officers and firefighters.

After having run unopposed in the primary, Pacheco was re-elected in November 1998, and within days, he was chosen as leader of the Assembly Republicans.

The glory didn't last long.

Political Missteps

Pacheco's slide in Sacramento, former colleagues say, began after he was elected Republican leader. The assemblyman found himself in the middle of a dust-up over the potential presidential candidacy of George W. Bush, then governor of Texas. Newspapers reported at the time that Pacheco visited Bush in Texas in late 1998 and met with Bush's father, the former president.

Pacheco joined 24 fellow GOP lawmakers in signing a January 1999 public letter urging the younger Bush to run for president in 2000, setting themselves apart as some of the Texas governor's earliest presidential supporters on the national level. Pacheco backpedaled, however, in the Los Angeles Times, saying that his signature didn't actually mean he was endorsing Bush and that he would never want to offend Wilson, who was also contemplating a run for president in 2000.

Pacheco then publicly disparaged a trio of fellow Republicans, calling them "The Three Stooges" when they held a rally for Bush at the state GOP convention in February 1999. The New York Times reported Pacheco's remarks about Assemblymen Bruce Thompson, of Fallbrook; Bill Leonard, of San Bernardino; and Roy Ashburn, of Bakersfield.

Pacheco apologized the day after the article was published. Some of his colleagues tried to boot him immediately but failed. The public criticism of his colleagues was among several factors that precipitated his eventual ouster as leader.

Baugh still recalls vividly a comment made by Pacheco that contributed to his downfall.

"The straw that broke the camel's back was a statement he made that good prosecutors win their cases, but it takes a great prosecutor to put an innocent man in prison," Baugh said in a recent telephone interview. "The statement was one of the most offensive things I ever heard."

Several Assembly Republicans were present when Pacheco made the statement in a meeting room at the Capitol, and shortly thereafter, they moved to recall him as Assembly minority leader in April 1999, Baugh said.

Baugh, now chairman of the Orange County Republican Party, replaced Pacheco as GOP Assembly leader. Baugh had been indicted in 1996 on fraud allegations in connection with the recall election of his predecessor, but the case later was dismissed. Baugh said that experience helped fuel his indignation at Pacheco's remark.

Pacheco said he didn't recall making the comment, but if he did, he said it as a joke and was repeating an "unfortunate" statement he heard many times from someone else.

Baugh and others didn't find anything funny about the remark. "He tried to rule the Republican Caucus by fear and intimidation, and the majority of his colleagues were offended by his style so they dumped him as leader," Baugh said. "He chose to make enemies instead of friends."

Over the years, Inland politicians have heard about Pacheco's statement on convicting the innocent, a longtime Republican strategist said. Consequently, local politicians are concerned that crossing Pacheco might trigger investigations into their campaigns, their businesses, or other aspects of their lives, the strategist said.

Even an unconfirmed suspicion by Pacheco that he has been betrayed by a friend or colleague can lead to personal or professional consequences, say those close to him.

"You can prosecute people, and it doesn't matter if they are guilty or not," said the strategist, who has been involved in politics statewide for decades. "Now the fear is greater than it ever was by high-up officials."

Steding, Pacheco's chief assistant district attorney, said numerous checks and balances exist in the justice system. The assertion that a person who has fallen into disfavor politically can be prosecuted in the absence of a crime has no basis in reality, she said.

Fontana Republican Jim Brulte served in Sacramento with Pacheco and was leader of the Republicans in the state Senate during part of Pacheco's time in the Assembly.

Brulte said he was stunned to see how Pacheco mishandled his few months as leader of the Assembly Republicans, a post that Brulte had held for four years. "The job of a leader, particularly the minority party, is to try to unite the team with one voice," Brulte said. Pacheco failed to understand that he needed to serve his party caucus members instead of the other way around, he said.

"Rod lacks self-perception," Brulte said.

Russ Bogh, a Beaumont Republican who served in the Assembly during Pacheco's final term, described Pacheco as an "extremely effective" legislator who was a great mentor. With Pacheco's guidance, Bogh said, he was able to make fewer mistakes in his early days. "I think he was a true leader, but sometimes he rubbed people the wrong way," Bogh said. "I think people saw him as an enemy and a threat."

Bogh said Pacheco was surprised when his colleagues voted him out as leader, but it was his tendency to hold people accountable that pushed fellow Republicans away.

"He really is a do-the-right-thing guy," Bogh said. "He's never been motivated by political ambition."

One former colleague said Pacheco's swift demise as caucus leader left him "embarrassed, sad and vengeful."

Pacheco was re-elected to a final term in November 2000. Under term limits, he could serve only three terms.

When fellow lawmakers redrew legislative district lines in 2001, Pacheco's home wound up in Brulte's state Senate district, dashing the assemblyman's hopes of getting into the Senate.

Pacheco, who took some criticism for distancing himself from Bush's supporters in 1999, also learned in late 2001 that his application for a U.S. attorney post had been passed over by the Bush administration.

Pacheco opened a state Senate campaign account for the 2002 election and later opened a state attorney general account for the 2006 race. He never sought either seat.

A former UC Riverside professor who taught Pacheco and remembers him fondly said he was somewhat surprised to see Pacheco pursue a career in law enforcement, and the Legislature also didn't seem to be a good fit for him.

"I don't think he was particularly challenged, particularly happy, particularly thrilled in the Legislature," said Francis Carney, the founding faculty member of UC Riverside's political science department.

Coming Home

In 2002, Pacheco returned to Riverside County, where his wife, Rebecca, and their four children had continued to live while he served in the Assembly.

Pacheco has said in previously published reports that returning to Riverside gave him a chance to connect with his family, coach his son's Little League team and take his children to school.

His friends had great expectations that he would emerge as a leader in regional law enforcement, and they encouraged him to come back to the district attorney's office and build a career.

During his first stint in the district attorney's office, Pacheco had worked in several divisions, including juvenile and sexual assault crimes against women and children. He also worked on gang cases and prosecuted several murder cases, including some that sought the death penalty.

Pacheco came back as one of five chief deputy district attorneys, gradually taking over the day-to-day operations of the department. Pacheco, who was later promoted to assistant district attorney, was often in the public eye, promoting programs aimed at tackling gangs and sex offenders while Trask remained in the background. Trask had made known his intention to retire, and many say he had relinquished control of the office to Pacheco.

Sources once aligned with Pacheco say he began building a platform to succeed Trask immediately upon returning from Sacramento.

"He started to position himself. He's very clever. He wanted to show senior people in the office who he was," a colleague remembers.

Pacheco quickly began collecting early endorsements from county leaders, and by the end of 2004, he had amassed campaign coffers of $310,000.

His path to the top cost him longtime friendships.

One of Pacheco's closest friends, then Riverside County Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio, also was contemplating a run for district attorney.

Ultimately, Soccio decided not to run.

The two men have not been on speaking terms since Pacheco learned that Soccio was considering running. Observers said the friendship unraveled because Pacheco felt Soccio had betrayed him.

Trask, who had promised his endorsement to Pacheco and continues to support him, asked Soccio to retire. It was an unusual request in the district attorney's office.

Soccio retired in October 2006.

On Jan. 2, 2007, Pacheco celebrated his swearing-in on the steps of the Riverside Historic County Courthouse, between columns draped in a giant American flag, and state Chief Justice Ronald George administered the oath of office in front of 500 spectators.

Pacheco promised the crowd, which included Trask, county supervisors, Pacheco's mother and Wilson, the former governor, "a new day of dedication to ideals larger than ourselves."

It didn't take long for Pacheco to make an impact.

Under his leadership, the district attorney's office conducted crackdowns on street gangs, focused attention on victims' rights issues and continued to push for strong prosecution of sexual predators.

In May 2007, Pacheco announced that his office would seek the death penalty in the trial of Raymond Lee Oyler, the man accused of starting the Esperanza Fire. The October 2006 wildfire in the San Jacinto Mountains had claimed the lives of five federal firefighters.

He also has shown that he isn't afraid to take on some of western Riverside County's largest Republican players. His office filed criminal charges against Global Port, an airport development company backed by Jacques Yeager, Henry Coil and Bob Wolf, a former California Transportation Commission member who had been appointed by Wilson.

The district attorney alleged that the company was operating a hazardous jet-fueling system near March Air Reserve Base. The case has yet to go to trial, but if the company is found guilty, it could be fined as much as $11 million.

Gang Injunction

Pacheco sought a civil injunction in August against East Side Riva, a street gang that authorities contend is responsible for several homicides and hundreds of other crimes in Riverside's eastern neighborhoods.

Riverside Police Chief Russ Leach said his investigators worked many months with Pacheco's office to identify gang members.

"Rod is definitely known as a very strong law-and-order person," Leach said. "I believe that's what the people of Riverside County want."

Pacheco filed his request with the court in August and paid for a full-page ad in The Press-Enterprise to announce the injunction effort. A judge later gave the injunction preliminary approval, which could be made permanent this month.

The injunction declares the gang a public nuisance and prohibits its members from engaging in various activities such as associating with one another in public in a designated zone, staying out past 10 p.m., wearing gang apparel, listening to police communication on scanners and using two-way radios.

The day after the injunction was announced, an ad was placed in The Press-Enterprise classified section announcing a yard sale at Pacheco's home to raise money for a Pacheco "memorial" fund. Pacheco and law enforcement officials interpreted the ad as a threat.

Chandler Cardwell, a Press-Enterprise classified advertising employee, pleaded guilty in November to placing the advertisement and was sentenced to 16 months in prison. He is no longer employed by the newspaper.

The injunction divided Eastside Riverside and raised criticism from community leaders, who said Pacheco's motive was to advance his political career rather than to eliminate a gang threat.

Mary Figueroa, Riverside community activist and Riverside Community College District board member, said her expectations for Pacheco were high.

"This was someone who knew how the system worked and how he should relate to people," said Figueroa, who once worked with the district attorney's office as a victim advocate.

Figueroa and other members of the Eastside Think Tank, a group of community leaders who work with local officials to combat youth-related problems, met with Pacheco after he took office to discuss ways of working together. Figueroa said the meeting went well, and good lines of communication appeared to have been established.

But when a news conference at Patterson Park in Riverside was held to announce the injunction, no one from the Think Tank was invited.

Residents began expressing concerns about the gang injunction and its impact on the community, but Pacheco and the agency were not talking, Figueroa said. E-mails and telephone calls to Pacheco went unanswered.

"I have never gotten the runaround like this in my whole life," she said. "It went from bad to worse."

A community meeting was held on the Eastside, but neither Pacheco nor his staff attended. Officials cited safety concerns after the newspaper ad naming Pacheco. Leach, the Riverside police chief, attended the gathering and answered questions, but he said he didn't have the answers that the district attorney's office could have provided.

The Think Tank still suggested a meeting with Pacheco but withdrew the idea when his office wanted a list of people who would be attending the meeting. The district attorney's office planned to run the names through its investigative division to determine whether any posed potential security threats.

"We consider the conditions in order to meet to be offensive and demeaning to each one of the Eastside Think Tank members," said the group's Oct. 18 letter to Pacheco.

Steding said it is not the responsibility of the district attorney's office to meet with community members to tell them how their loved ones' names can be removed from the gang injunction.

"The lawyers for the loved ones need to do that," Steding said. "We're advocates on one side."

Some Murrieta families contend the district attorney's office has inappropriately filed gang enhancements against a group of young men there. The enhancements increase the amount of jail time that prosecutors can seek in trial.

The parents of several men who pleaded guilty to gang charges in connection with the so-called Fight Club criminal street gang are considering an effort to recall Pacheco.

The parents say that the prosecution of their sons was less about bringing them to justice for their crimes, which included assaults and burglaries, than scoring points in Riverside County politicians' war on gangs. Their sons were not innocent, but they were not gang members, the parents say.

"We strongly believe there's been a major miscarriage of justice here," said Mark Baker, father of Fight Club defendant Travis Baker, who is serving a seven-year sentence.

Ingrid Wyatt, spokeswoman for the district attorney's office, said the Fight Club is a gang as defined by the law, responsible for terrorizing the community.

She declined to comment on the parents' threats of a recall effort.

Sheriff Departs

Pacheco and former Sheriff Bob Doyle, once allies who helped out on each other's campaigns, were barely on speaking terms when Doyle unexpectedly announced his resignation last August, less than one year into a second term.

Pacheco lobbied behind the scenes to get former Assistant Sheriff Stanley Sniff appointed as sheriff.

Sniff, whom Doyle had fired in December 2006, was appointed to replace Doyle by a 3-2 vote of the Board of Supervisors. Supervisors Bob Buster and Roy Wilson favored putting Undersheriff Neil Lingle in the job until a special election was held.

Doyle, who was appointed to the state Parole Board, declined to comment for this article.

Those close to Doyle say he was, in part, troubled by the direction the county was heading under the shifting political winds strengthened by a growing alliance between Pacheco and Stone.

Stone and Doyle had gone head-to-head publicly over whether a defunct jail in remote Eagle Mountain, near Blythe, could serve as a county lockup. Doyle adamantly opposed the proposal and Sniff, now sheriff, also did.

In July, a consultant hired by the county determined that converting the Eagle Mountain site would be too costly and that a weak security perimeter made the proposal ill-advised. The county has abandoned the idea.

Stone also criticized Doyle for issuing badges to civilians, including some of the then sheriff's campaign contributors.

Pacheco joined the public criticism of Doyle after a July opinion by Attorney General Jerry Brown said that California law could be violated if a badge "would deceive an ordinary reasonable person into believing that it was authorized for use by a peace officer."

The district attorney recommended all nonsworn peace officers to turn in their badges. Not all agencies, including Riverside County, have yet complied. Jail deputies, however, now wear a cloth star instead of a tin star.

The move has caused resentment among many local leaders and some deputy district attorneys, who in a tongue-in-cheek move have placed Pacheco's photograph in their empty badge cases.

Steding said Pacheco is continuing to work with county leaders to come up with suitable options for the badges. And Pacheco is pushing for a state law that would clarify the use of badges and who may carry them.

"While some may suggest a more liberal view that would allow our badges, or some significant form, to remain, such view is not mine," Pacheco wrote in an Aug. 2 letter to Supervisor John Tavaglione. "It seems clear that the foundation of a prosecutor is integrity and integrity in all things."

Despite his tough views on enforcement, the county's top prosecutor has found himself on the wrong side of the law in recent years.

Pacheco was stopped in October 2004 in his red BMW with the license plate LITIGTR and cited for an expired registration and driving without proof of insurance. He paid $10 and provided proof of insurance and registration in December 2004, and the charges were dismissed.

In June 2005, he was ticketed for unsafe speed and having an expired California driver's license. He attended traffic school and paid $396, and the charges were dismissed.

In May 2006, Pacheco was ticketed for failing to stop at a red light. He was convicted and paid $357.

In May 2007, he got a speeding ticket in the Coachella Valley. The ticket was dismissed after he paid a $232 fine and attended traffic school.

Court records also show the Pachecos' were sued by Riverside Garden School in 2002 for nonpayment of a $2,279 bill. The two sides reached an undisclosed settlement, and the case was dismissed.

Management Style

Critics say staff turnover accelerated when Pacheco began overseeing the office more than a year before his election. They say his abrasive and sometimes intimidating management style has caused dozens of skilled prosecutors to seek jobs elsewhere. In the past three years, 72 prosecutors have left the office, including nine who retired and eight who were terminated. The office employs 238 lawyers.

Steding said people have left for various reasons. Some took positions on the bench, some left for family reasons, and others found jobs elsewhere, including the San Bernardino County's district attorney's office.

"Some are overwhelmed by the court congestion," she wrote in a statement. "Folks do not feel they are lawyering, but instead are managing huge numbers of case files."

She acknowledged that some are leaving because they are "disgruntled."

Brian Sussman has worked in the district attorney's office for more than 20 years. In 2002, he ran unsuccessfully against his former boss, Grover Trask. He now supervises the drug unit.

Sussman said Pacheco's influence over the office has had positive and negative impacts. But the leadership change hasn't affected his ability to do the job, he said.

Morale is worse than it was when Pacheco took over, but it had been deteriorating for several years before that, Sussman said.

"His overall influence has changed the office for the worse," he said. "But then there are things he is doing that some would consider a positive."

Sussman said some longtime prosecutors have left, forcing less experienced deputy district attorneys to handle cases for which they might not be ready, such as three-strikes cases and armed robbery trials.

"People are trying cases that are above their ability to try," Sussman said.

The policy against plea bargains also has left younger lawyers with heavier caseloads and forced prosecutors to go to trial when they may not be ready, he said.

Trask said the turnover is not unprecedented. Early in his 24-year tenure as prosecutor, his office saw a lot of departures, similar to what Pacheco is seeing now.

"You can't really judge an individual, a district attorney, on one or two years or even four years," Trask said.

Pacheco is a career prosecutor in a tough, complex job, and few people can appreciate how stressful it is, Trask said, adding that he believes Pacheco's legislative experience helped him better understand the dynamics of government.

"There's always going to be tension between the DA's official duties, staff, government agencies, the community and the 20-plus police agencies and constituents with conflicting demands," Trask said.

His former protégé is learning to rise above partisan politics, Trask said.

San Bernardino County District Attorney Michael Ramos said there is nothing unusual about prosecutors transferring from Pacheco's office to his office in San Bernardino County.

Ramos said Pacheco is passionate about his work and has a different style than Trask had. It is possible, Ramos said, that some people are having a hard time getting used to the way Pacheco runs the office.

Trask was a "low-key guy," Ramos said. "Rod is not."

Pacheco continues to enjoy support from Riverside County supervisors, who have boosted annual funding for the prosecutor's office by nearly $27 million in the past two fiscal years.

Stone said Pacheco is managing the district attorney's office in his own style. Critics says that style requires loyalty above all else.

"Loyalty to him, personal loyalty, is more important than talent or truth," a former friend of Pacheco's said. "He's smart, funny, personable, charming. He's nice-looking. But ... he has a fear-driven need to control everything, and he starts to alienate people."

And some Republicans say Pacheco tends to hold grudges indefinitely.

"Once you cross Rod Pacheco, you can never be his friend," said Baugh, Pacheco's former Assembly colleague. "There are several members (of the Assembly) that he refuses to acknowledge or communicate with in private or in public."

The Future

Pacheco continues to collect campaign contributions. He had $442,263 in cash in his last report, for an election still 2 ½ years away with no known opponents.

Supporters say he has given no indication that he intends to seek higher office, but they wouldn't be surprised to see him campaign for a state or federal post. He had a campaign committee for attorney general open until November 2005, and some still wonder whether he'll run for that office.

Bogh said he thinks the district attorney's office is a good fit for Pacheco, who can control the county department better than he could the statehouse.

"I think that's where he's going to stay," he said. "I think he likes being home."

After more than 20 years in the office, Trask reflected on the challenges facing Pacheco.

"You're walking a tightrope. One mistake, and you're somebody's lunch. If you do it the right way, you might be perceived as a rising star in a very tough job," he said.

Staff writers Richard K. De Atley and Sarah Burge contributed to this report.

The Press-Enterprise compiled the campaign finance records for Riverside County District Attorney Rod Pacheco covering his run for the county's top elected law enforcement job and built additional spreadsheets that included records from his previous state campaign-finance accounts.


The data for the spreadsheets outlining Pacheco's campaign finances was taken from two sources:

— Official paper records on file with the registrar of voters in Riverside County, where candidates are not required to file electronically.

— Electronic records from the secretary of state's office.

The documents were then entered by hand into Excel spreadsheets. The database is a digital representation of the paper documents including any misspellings.

The Press-Enterprise has taken every effort to ensure that the records available on the spreadsheets are accurate and match those on the paper records.

Excel: Staff donations to Pacheco's campaign committee

Excel: Donations received by Pacheco's campaign committee

Excel: Expenditures by Pacheco's campaign committee

Link to Pacheco's campaign finance reports on the secretary of state Web site.
The tangled web they weave:

1. RivCo DA Rod Pacheco and RivCo Supervisor Jeff Stone are very loyal to one another.

2. Stone's son, Jason, is a Riverside County Deputy District Attorney which makes Pacheco his boss.

3. Sheriff Sniff was endorsed by Stone and Pacheco.

4. Sheriff Sniff's wife works in the District Attorney's office which also makes Pacheco her boss.

5. Samuel Alhadeff and BOTH of his attorney firms have contributed significant amounts of money to Pacheco's election campaigns.**

(**This info is available by clicking the italicized Excel spreadsheet at the end of the story.)

Sorta makes one wonder how deep this rabbit holes goes...?
Last edited by Benny's Friend on Thu Jun 10, 2010 4:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
The more who speak out, the more who get out.

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Post by Benny's Friend » Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:28 pm

In related news (not really, I just didn't know where else to out this and it's not important enough to have it's own thread), Jeff Stone participated in a large protest in his hometown of Temecula yesterday. ... 6c42b8.txt
TEMECULA ---- Thousands of protesters crowded around Temecula's Duck Pond on Wednesday ---- tax day for U.S. taxpayers ---- to show elected officials they are fed up with new taxes, the complicated tax code and tax-related propositions on the state's May ballot.

"We'll be taxing our kids and grandkids forever and it's going to take a long time to recover from this thing," said Cheryl Lehman, a Temecula resident who was holding a sign that read "Tea or Kool-Aid. Which one are you drinking?"

The protest, which started at 11 a.m., was expected to run for most of the day, according to the organizers, the Murrieta-Temecula Republican Assembly and the Temecula/Murrieta Valley Republican Women Federated.

Linking the rally with the Boston Tea Party ---- the 1773 uprising that saw colonials toss tea into the Boston Harbor to protest a new tax ---- some protesters wore colonial outfits and replica tea crates were tossed into the pond just after noon.

Lehman, a former Lake Arrowhead resident who recently moved to Temecula, said she made it a point to attend the rally, noticed by radio broadcasts and newspaper articles, because it's important for the government to hear contrarian voices.

"They've been ignoring our votes," she said.

The Temecula event was one of an estimated 2,000 similar events staged in U.S. cities on Wednesday. The protesters said the events were an illustration of rising opposition to what they referred to as Democratic Party plans to "spread wealth around" through more aggressive tax policies.

Critics of the tea parties, meanwhile, have called them an example of "collective insanity," stunts whipped up by conservative talk radio hosts looking to paint the Democrats as socialists or worse.

At the park on the southern edge of the pond, political leaders including Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone gave speeches to call attention to particularly onerous examples of government waste and urge defeat of Proposition 1A on the state's May ballot.
Just look at all these terrifying hatemongers!

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Re: What a tangled web they weave...

Post by Sponge » Fri Apr 17, 2009 2:45 pm

Benny's Friend wrote:

The tangled web they weave:

1. RivCo DA Rod Pacheco and RivCo Supervisor Jeff Stone are very loyal to one another.

2. Stone's son, Jason, is a Riverside County Deputy District Attorney which makes Pacheco his boss.

3. Sheriff Sniff was endorsed by Stone and Pacheco.

4. Sheriff Sniff's wife works in the District Attorney's office which also makes Pacheco her boss.

5. Samuel Alhadeff and BOTH of his attorney firms have contributed significant amounts of money to Pacheco's election campaigns.**

(**This info is available by clicking the italicized Excel spreadsheet at the end of the story.)

Sorta makes one wonder how deep this rabbit holes goes...?
"4. Sheriff Sniff's wife works in the District Attorney's office which also makes Pacheco her boss."

A FORENSICS TECHNICIAN no less. That'll come in handy when you need crucial evidence to to be disappeared or altered.
"Ooops I accidently your DNA sample with coffee"
Yeah guise, I know, tinfoil tinfoil tinfoil, but stranger things have indeed happened.

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Post by Benny's Friend » Fri Apr 17, 2009 5:27 pm

Thanks for your comment, Sponge. I don't think a tinfoil hat is unwarranted here. There are many more connecting points to the web other than those pointed out in that one news article.

For instance, recall that Jeff Stone's sister, Lori, also works for DA Pacheco heading up a specially appointed Sexual Assault Felony Enforcement (S.A.F.E.) unit that educates school children about what sexual assault is and internet safety. She also works in the county's Sexual Predator Internet Decoy Enforcement of Riverside (S.P.I.D.E.R.) Program, which initiates proactive investigations of sexual predators by conducting covert internet operations to identify internet predators living in or coming into Riverside County to commit these crimes.

How exploitable would that position be to someone with an axe to grind?
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Connecting the dots...

Post by Benny's Friend » Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:10 pm

Have you heard the latest news coming out of the city of San Jacinto? It seems political corruption runs deep there. Recently Riverside County DA Rod Pacheco issued a 155-count indictment against nine defendants for money laundering, perjury, bribery, falsifying federal documents and conspiracy to hide campaign contributions. The defendants? Four out of five City Council members, including Jim Ayres, James Potts and John Mansperger; Mayor Dale Stubblefield; San Jacinto school board trustee and San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Nancy Jo Ayres; and businessmen Stephen Holgate, Robert Osborne, Scott Shaull and Byron Ellison Sr.

Wow. Who'da thought there'd be so much corruption in the town that plays host to the most ethical people on the planet? (Of course, I refer to the inhabitants of Scientology's military compound also known as Golden Era Productions.)

A news story to get you up to speed:

Investigators say money moved in circles in San Jacinto corruption case ... f8fff.html
The Press-Enterprise

Special Section: San Jacinto Corruption Probe

Indicted San Jacinto council member Jim Ayres used campaign money to place a down payment on a house in 2007 that was purchased from developer Stephen Holgate, who in turn may have originally given Ayres the funds, a Riverside County district attorney investigator suggested in court documents.

The ties between Holgate, who was also charged last week, and Ayres stretch to at least April 2003 when Ayres along with other City Council members approved a development agreement for a subdivision linked to Holgate. Five months later, Ayres inked an agreement to purchase a parcel in a small, gated subdivision Holgate was planning.

By October 2007, Holgate had become a major contributor to Ayres' campaigns for state Assembly and the San Jacinto City Council, investigators said. When Ayres finally purchased the home from a company owned by Holgate, he may have used some of those campaign funds, thus using Holgate's money to buy a home from Holgate, investigators wrote.

The actions were outlined in one of a series of search warrants released Tuesday in a sweeping corruption indictment of nine civic and business leaders that accuses them of laundering tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds, tax fraud, bribery, perjury and filing false government documents.

The indictment names four out of five members of the San Jacinto City Council and a school board member.

Besides Ayres, 48, and Holgate, 62, whom authorities said moved to Florida, others named in the 155-count indictment are San Jacinto Mayor Dale Stubblefield, 41, and Vice Mayor John Mansperger, 41, Councilman James Potts, 67, and Ayres' wife, Nancy Jo Ayres, 44, a San Jacinto Unified School District board member.

Also charged are developers and businessmen Scott Douglas Shaull, 45, of Roseville; Robert Edward Osborne, 69, of Mission Viejo; and Byron Jerry Ellison Sr., 70, of San Jacinto. Shaull and Ellison have developed properties with Holgate.

The indictment charges the group with 56 felonies and 99 misdemeanors.

The indictment was the culmination of an 18-month investigation during which 32 search warrants were issued.

The defendants all have either pleaded not guilty or deferred entering pleas until an early December court hearing. All are free after posting bail.

Calls to Holgate's and Ayres' attorneys seeking comment were not returned.

The plan for Ayres to buy a home in Holgate's neighborhood dates to at least September 2003, when Ayres agreed to buy a lot in the undeveloped subdivision, a search warrant affidavit said.

In April 2003, City Council members were asked to approve a three-tract development agreement. Applicant Mike Willard, representing GKH Limited, asked for paperwork to be sent to an address in Mission Viejo and in one case to a post office box in Temecula used by Holgate, wrote Riverside County senior district attorney investigator Kim Robinson.

Ayres proposed approving all three tracts but other council members weren't supportive, according to the affidavit. The council then voted 2-1 to approve two of the three tracts. Ayres was the "no" vote. When told by the city attorney that the proposal did not pass because a majority of the five-member council had to approve, Ayres changed his vote.

But when the agreement signed by Ayres as mayor was examined by investigators, all three tracts were included, Robinson wrote.

The agreement was significant because it relieved the developer from paying the full Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fees. Rather than pay $7,000 per home built, the agreement said the developer would pay $3,200 per residence.

A document that investigators found at Ayres' home was a lot purchase agreement dated Sept. 14, 2003. Ayres agreed to buy a one-half-acre lot in a Holgate development for $119, 500. The agreement also stated Ayres would get first choice of which lot he would buy. The lot in question is the site of Ayres' current home.

Campaign Cash Used

By 2007, when Ayres formally bought the home on Shelbran Court -- formerly Ayres Court before the city council changed it at the request of Holgate's Company, Shelbran Investments -- Holgate was a major contributor to Ayres. Holgate donated the maximum amount to Ayres' failed 2006 state Assembly campaign, and court records show many of Holgate's friends and business partners also donated heavily.

Holgate also removed $78,000 from his personal accounts in May and June 2007 at the same time Ayres was placing $82,000 in campaign accounts. Investigators in court documents said they believe Holgate's withdrawals could have become Ayres' deposits.

Those contributions might have helped Ayres pay for the home, Robinson found. At the time he signed the documents for the home loan, Ayres reported a savings account with $77,000 in it but provided no documentation. He claimed other savings and checking accounts held approximately $50,000.

Holgate is also accused of reimbursing people tens of thousands of dollars for campaign contributions they made. Such reimbursements are illegal under California law if a donor has already made the maximum possible donation to a campaign.

After putting a $50,000 down payment on the house, Ayres needed to show up with $22,600 to close on his new home.

"I know by reviewing Ayres' bank statements from Altura Credit Union that he did not have $22,600 in any of the three linked accounts," Robinson wrote.

The cashier's check Ayres used, Robinson said, was issued with $22,600 from an Altura account for Ayres' 2006 Assembly campaign.

Reach Dug Begley at 951-368-9475 or

Reach Richard K. De Atley at 951-368-9573 or
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Post by Benny's Friend » Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:14 pm

The lone un-indicted council member, Steve Di Memmo, sought advice from his friend, Jeff Stone.

San Jacinto councilman seeks advice from county supervisor ... 1dd30.html
The Press-Enterprise

Special Section: San Jacinto Corruption Probe

San Jacinto City Councilman Steve Di Memmo, the only council member not charged in a sweeping political corruption case last week, said Monday that he sought advice from 3rd District Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone about how to move the city forward.

If any council members resign, Di Memmo said Stone indicated he would support a request by Di Memmo to ask the governor to make appointments to the council.

Verne Lauritzen, Stone's chief of staff, said, "The (election) statute says if anyone pleads guilty or is convicted or resigns, the city can either replace with a special election, which would be expensive, or they could default to a governor's appointment."

Lauritzen confirmed the two public officials met Sunday and characterized it as Di Memmo asking for Stone's assistance.

"I think he kind of wanted some reassurance ... that the city would be capable of moving forward," given that Di Memmo is the only councilman not under indictment, he said by phone.

While saying the council members are innocent until proven guilty, Di Memmo reiterated Monday, "My position is they should resign forthwith."

He said, "They betrayed the trust of the public."

Di Memmo, a retired U.S. Department of the Treasury law enforcement agent, said he has not communicated with the council members individually.

"It's up to the people to demand their resignations," he said.

The next council meeting is Dec. 10.

The council members, developers and businessmen were indicted Thursday and accused of a complex scheme of kickbacks to campaign contributors or outright deception on campaign forms.

The defendants are San Jacinto Mayor Dale Stubblefield, 41; Vice Mayor John Mansperger, 41; Councilman James Potts, 67; and Councilman Jim Ayres, 48. Ayres' wife, Nancy Ayres, 44, a San Jacinto Unified School District board member, faces charges, too.

The others named are Stephen Russell Holgate, 62, of San Jacinto; Scott Douglas Shaull, 45, of Roseville; Robert Edward Osborne, 69, of Mission Viejo; and Byron Jerry Ellison Sr., 70 of San Jacinto.

Reach Gail Wesson at 951-763-3455 or
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Post by Benny's Friend » Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:32 pm

Btw, you may notice the absence of Press Enterprise reporter Julia Glick's name from these articles covering her usual political beat in Riverside County. Sadly, Julia was terminated by the paper a few weeks ago. Ima miss that girl.

Oh, and speaking of corruption, speedo-wearing protester AO recently wondered if the investigation into the San Jacinto city council wasn't instigated by Scientologists as a retaliation over opposition to the closure of Hwy 79...?


See the council members here in Mark Lowell's vids covering the Sept. 3, 2009 meeting where the issue was discussed:
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Post by Don Carlo » Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:41 pm

Stone could pack the city council with his cronies if he can get the governor's ear when the governor appoints replacements. I hope some professionally-dressed Riverside activists can interview the attacked council members and if their side of the story is valid, ally with them to show this is an attempted coup d'état.

Council members may be challenging Stone after blistering hearings on no-picketing-against-Gold. Stone looks like a sore loser who could destroy his challengers, and make officials fear and obey him for years to come. But we can stop him. Fortunately, if the council members are falsely charged and it can be traced to Stone, it could be the end of him.

If Stone succeeds with his coup, he may then try to ban the Tuesday public questions sessions, and perhaps insulate officials from the truth about Gold exploitation and forced abortions. This must not happen. As a fall-back, if Stone succeeds in packing the council, we need to get the truth to them somehow.
Last edited by Don Carlo on Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Benny's Friend » Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:41 pm

It's interesting that all these San Jacinto politicians had such strong financial ties to the development industry. There's a similar situation next door in Jeff Stone's hometown of Temecula where three out of five City Council members have jobs or investments tied to real estate development.

According to recent state-required filings, Councilman Jeff Comerchero continues to earn income as a development consultant. He is CEO and president of The Rancon Group, a collection of development and real estate-related firms in Murrieta.

Mayor Maryann Edwards remains a community relations officer for Mission Oaks National Bank.

Two councilmen, Mike Naggar and Ron Roberts, report owning stock in Mission Oaks, although Roberts has said his wife solely owns the stock through an IRA account. Roberts remains a paid staff member for Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone.

Naggar still runs Mike Naggar & Associates, a Perris development consulting firm that has done business with Rancon outside Temecula.

The firm is not listed on Naggar's report; he said that is because it has no business in Temecula.

Councilman Chuck Washington resumed flying for Delta Airlines last year. He still has money invested in Rancon's Europa Village winery project in Temecula Valley Wine Country, which is outside the city limits.

The council's links to Rancon was criticized last year by some community members who said council members used their influence to help Rancon founder Dan Stephenson, who has contributed to all five council members' campaigns.

Council members denied the allegations. None of the council's ties to Rancon are illegal, and council members say they consult with the city attorney and abstain from matters in which they might have a conflict of interest.

(Info taken from news article found here: ... 81872.html)
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Post by Benny's Friend » Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:48 pm

Great points, Don Carlo! Thanks for weighing in!

Oh, that reminds me. As I recall, Jeff Stone is pretty heavily involved in the Riverside County development scene himself. And you know what? So are fellow Supervisors John Tavaglione and Marion Ashley.

O' the tangled web they weave...
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Post by J. Swift » Sun Nov 22, 2009 9:19 pm

So is that house in Holgate's gated community that Ayres was going to buy for sale? I mean, not to get off topic, but it might be a good thing for Jeff Stone to have his $330,000 "volunteer" sister Lori buy the house and name it "The Jeff Stone Halfway House." The place would only house "Upstat Felons" who are on parole. It would be a place where local politicians exiting prison could receive Scientology auditing to rehabilitate them. Once rehabilitated, they would then become useful members of society who support closing State Hwy 79. This would be an Ideal Scene to help offenders while closing State Hwy 79. The chart below is from the Press-Enterprise: ... 3b31a.html



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Post by I'mglib » Mon Nov 23, 2009 7:31 pm

I can totally picture that the corruption in San Jacinto is tied to developers. It's wide open out there, and in a situation like that, people are going to try to build what they want before anyone can figure out what's happening.

It's interesting, though, that the one "clean" guy asked Stone for advice! What the heck? It's scary the power that Stone is building. Yikes.
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Post by Don Carlo » Mon Nov 23, 2009 9:32 pm

The city council members may be corrupt but unrelated to Jeff Stone's corrupt ties with Scientology. It's important that the governor understand that Jeff Stone is NOT clean himself and anyone recommended by Stone deserves some scrutiny. I hope any appointments get some public airing before they are made permanent.

The governor should ask any potential appointees their opinion on closing Gilman Springs Road, and if they say yes, reject them for this Gold-Base-serving, commuter-screwing opinion. If they say they favor keeping Gilman Springs Road open, inform them that this statement will be made public so they can't suddenly "change their mind" when they get the city council job.

The governor should hear about Jeff Stone making his sister Lori Stone the richest "volunteer" in Riverside County. The governor should NOT give Lori Stone a nice-paying city council job.

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Post by Sponge » Sun Dec 20, 2009 5:03 pm

Corruption cases threaten San Jacinto Valley reputation
December 19, 2009
The Press-Enterprise
Special Section: San Jacinto Corruption Probe ... 9a2f1.html
Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, who represents the area, said the accusations are a distraction that could "interrupt the progress of the city moving forward."
Orly, what a terrible inconvenience or you.
Stone, the county supervisor, insists all of the officials and others caught up in the probe are innocent until proven guilty, and he continues to work with them on city and county issues.
Of course. That's the way it should be. pity he doesnt practice what he preaches. He was judge, jury and executioner when falsely associating peaceful protesters with crimes/behaviour outlined in a pamphlet supplied by a special interest group who don't want the protesters to expose them, and then using it to enact legislation..... Ordinance 884.
He said he doesn't think the scandals will keep new residents from moving to the San Jacinto Valley. They will be more interested in crime rates, parks, schools and other quality-of-life measures.

But large businesses, developers and others who regularly interact with city government might second-guess a move to the valley, he said.

There will be a stigma that they won't be treated fairly or would have
Wanna bet? If I was to move to the California then Riverside, for business or resident reasons, particularly Hemet/San Jacinto/San Bernardino, would likely be at the bottom of my list based on what I've learned over the years.

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Post by Sponge » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:32 am

The sleazeball is getting a run for his money....

Link: District Attorney Rod Pacheco battling to keep position | Valley News | 8th June 2010

Press Enterprise......
Zellerbach, Pacheco in tight race ... d5804.html

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