Monday, June 05, 2006

PAUL GALLEGOS' DEFENDERS

Paul Gallegos cannot run on his record. Richard Salzman's spin machine is in full gear.

First read this letter to the editor in the Eureka Reporter written by Kay Rackauckas claiming that the Orange County DA only has one prosecutor assigned to CAST, thereby justifying Gallegos' understaffing of Humboldt County's Child Abuse Services Team. This letter will also be included as the FIRST COMMENT on this post

Then read up on Kay Rackauckas and her husband "Tony" Rackauckas

Missing Wives, Lousy Lies & Mob Ties
Exhaustive grand-jury investigation confirms DA corruption

OCW - Missing Wives, Lousy Lies and Mob Ties
OCW - DAs Wife Missing

Excerpts:

"On June 26, the Orange County grand jury rocked the local legal establishment when it declared that Rackauckas routinely abuses his awesome prosecutorial powers to protect friends and punish perceived enemies. According to the grand jury’s fact-filled, 100-page report, "Office of the District Attorney: An in-depth investigation," the DA is Nixonian in the darkest sense of the word: paranoid, petty, partisan, secretive, retaliatory and arrogant. And though this was a civil proceding, it’s easy to conclude that the jury’s findings demand a criminal investigation."

Or try this one:

DA puts Pub back in Public Funds

"Outraged by last month’s grand jury report detailing corruption in the district attorney’s office, six senior criminal detectives have retired and another dozen officers are expected to follow them in coming weeks, the Weekly has learned.

The Orange County grand jury’s 100-page "Office of the District Attorney: An In-Depth Investigation" report accused DA Tony Rackauckas and Don Blankenship, the head of his criminal-investigation division, of cronyism, mismanagement and misuse of public resources.

Several prosecutors say they fear the summer fallout will cost the government agency responsible for prosecuting criminals 500 years’ worth of gumshoe experience."

5 comments:

Rose said...

Decline in CAST numbers unrelated to District Attorney

by Kay Rackauckas, 6/3/2006

My name is Kay Rackauckas. For 12 years, I proudly served as a deputy district attorney in Orange County. For several of those years, I was a sexual assault/CAST prosecutor. I am also the mother of a 5-year-old son.

Over the Memorial Day weekend I was vacationing in Trinidad and became intrigued by the District Attorney’s race. I have never met either candidate. After hearing Mr. Dikeman’s allegations regarding District Attorney Paul Gallegos’ handling of the CAST unit’s performance, I did some research and felt compelled to write to your paper.

Orange County was among the first counties in California to implement the CAST protocol. CAST is an acronym for Child Abuse Services Team. When a child claims to have been molested, he or she is not interviewed like an adult but is questioned by an expert. The child is placed in a room with the interviewer, while the police and deputy district attorney simply observe from behind one-way glass. Often the interview is taped so the child does not need to repeat the same subject matter to multiple questioners.

The interviewer uses props such as dolls and other toys to help the child describe the events of the crime. The deputy district attorney uses this interview to assess whether the crime occurred, as well as the child’s credibility and maturity level.

Other than observing the interview, the prosecutor does not participate in this interview process, nor does the District Attorney’s Office originate the investigation of these molestation crimes. Rather, the sheriff and police departments bring these cases for possible filing to the DA. CAST is an effective tool to determine whether a crime occurred and/or whether a child will qualify as a witness in the courtroom. Additionally, this process is invaluable for the child’s emotional well-being.

Mr. Dikeman has attacked District Attorney Gallegos by alleging that he has understaffed the CAST position. Mr. Gallegos has one prosecutor assigned to this position at all times. Before Mr. Gallegos’ tenure, the previous District Attorney had two part-time deputy district attorneys assigned to it.

Mr. Gallegos, in fact, appears to have devoted the lion’s share of his resources to staffing this position. There are only 12 prosecutors in the entire Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Gallegos operates with a $3.5 million annual budget and prosecutes approximately 100 sexual assault cases each year.

By comparison, Orange County, which has one of the finest CAST programs in the nation, also has just one deputy district attorney assigned to the CAST position — in a county of over three million people.

Unlike Humboldt County, Orange County enjoys a $90 million annual budget and has over 245 prosecutors. In 2005, we performed 568 CAST interviews with one deputy district attorney participating. We filed 352 sexual assault felonies last year with a 94 percent conviction rate. The Orange County CAST prosecutor performs other duties, such as filing and trial overflow, in addition to observing the child interviews.

If Orange County’s CAST unit is a model for the nation, and we have determined over the years that one prosecutor is sufficient to staff our much larger CAST program successfully, how can Mr. Dikeman assert that Mr. Gallegos is neglecting his CAST unit? Mr. Dikemans’ allegations are baseless and without merit. They are obviously politically motivated and designed to mislead voters, who are unaware of how such units actually operate.

Lastly, Mr. Dikeman claims this neglect has caused a decline in the number of sexual assault cases prosecuted. Let me remind you: the police and sheriff departments are the ones who originate these cases. Any decline in the numbers is unrelated to the District Attorney’s CAST unit. It might be that because of budget cuts, fewer police detectives are working these investigations — or there are fewer crimes being committed because repeat offenders have received longer prison sentences under the three strikes law. This may very well be due to effective prosecution during Mr. Gallegos’ tenure.

Mr. Gallegos is obviously devoted to vigorous prosecution of child molestation cases, and is devoting major resources to the task. Because of his dedication and effectiveness in prosecuting child molesters, my husband and I wholeheartedly endorse him for re-election.

(Kay Rackauckas’ husband, Tony Rackauckas, is the District Attorney of Orange County.)

Copyright (C) 2005, The Eureka Reporter. All rights reserved.

Rose said...

http://www.ocweekly.com/news/news/das-wife-missing/21824/

DA’s Wife Missing!

May just be home
By Anthony Pignataro
Thursday, May 30, 2002 - 12:00 am

Photo by Daniel C. Tsang
On March 5, while Orange County District Attorney Anthony "Tony" Rackauckas celebrated his overwhelming reelection at the Sutton Place Hotel in Newport Beach, observers noticed his wife, Kay, was nowhere to be found. Her absence, explained as a need to stay home with a sick baby, still registered as an oddity.

In fact, by then, Kay Rackauckas—a deputy DA in her husband’s controversy-plagued office—had already been absent for months. She still hasn’t reported to work, and colleagues can’t agree where she’s supposed to be.

Kay Rackauckas’ mysterious absence from the DA’s office comes at a convenient time for her and her husband. For the past six months, the Orange County grand jury—acting in concert with state Attorney General Bill Lockyer—has investigated what sources familiar with the investigation call "possible felonies" concerning Tony Rackauckas’ past four years in the DA’s office.

Neither the grand jury nor the attorney general’s office will officially comment on the direction of the probe or even whether it exists. But sources familiar with the investigation say the DA’s top officials, including Rackauckas himself, testified last month. The Republican DA also retained as his counsel prominent Democrat Tom Umberg. Umberg, a Clinton administration official, has no criminal-defense experience but is tight with Lockyer, a fellow Democrat.

Those same sources say Kay Rackauckas’ missing-in-action status coincides with the grand jury’s wish to make her testify.

"She has been subpoenaed but hasn’t appeared before the panel," said a source. "She’s MIA, and you’re not going to find her until after the grand jury disbands."

Sources couldn’t say exactly why the grand jury would subpoena Kay Rackauckas. Working since 1990, she makes more than $110,000 per year, according to the county Human Resources department. By virtue of marriage, she also has access to the highest officials in one of the county’s most powerful offices.

In 1997, then-deputy DA Kay Anderle married then-Judge Tony Rackauckas. A year later, Judge Rackauckas was elected district attorney. Almost immediately, critics labeled Kay another Hillary Clinton, the real power behind the DA throne.

"I’m not part of the management," she told Orange County Register reporter John McDonald shortly before her husband took over as DA in January 1999. "Now I’m in [the department investigating] sexual assault [cases], and that’s where I want to stay."

Attempts to contact Kay Rackauckas were unsuccessful. A call to the Westminster branch of the DA’s office where she worked until June 2001 produced nothing, save a staffer’s annoyed suggestion to try the central office. Calls there yielded nothing.

Reluctantly, we contacted Tori Richards, the DA spokeswoman who recently stopped acknowledging our phone calls and e-mails.

"Kay Rackauckas never received an OC grand jury subpoena," she wrote in a May 22 e-mail.

But Richards admitted in a subsequent e-mail she had no idea if the grand jury was trying to deliver a subpoena to Kay Rackauckas. As for Rackauckas’ whereabouts, Richards wrote, "She is currently on family leave because she had a baby."

If true, then Kay Rackauckas has been on family leave a long time. Her baby was born on Valentine’s Day, 2001—15 months ago.

Information obtained by veteran private investigator Mike Madigan—co-author of the 1989 book The Twisted Badge, which exposed corruption in Orange County Sheriff and DA organized-crime units—seems to indicate that Kay Rackauckas has been on nearly continuous family leave since her baby’s birth. According to correspondence between Madigan and county media-relations manager Diane Thomas, Kay Rackauckas received $2,000 in family home leave from Feb. 9 until April 26, 2001. Thomas said Rackauckas then continued on unpaid leave until Jan. 15 of this year but didn’t provide further pay figures. (Madigan has posted the information on his website, twistedbadge.com.)

Sources familiar with the DA’s office recall Kay Rackauckas visiting work with her newborn on at least one occasion last year but can’t remember seeing her in the office this year.

At this rate, it’s unlikely the current grand jury will ever see Kay Rackauckas. The panel dissolves on June 30, leaving barely a month to conclude its investigation into DA Rackauckas. The grand jury’s options range from recommending indictments to doing nothing.

"Good luck finding her," one DA’s office source said with a laugh. "We’ve even heard rumors she’s gone to Mexico. You’re not going to find her."

Rose said...

Missing Wives, Lousy Lies & Mob Ties



Exhaustive grand-jury investigation confirms DA corruption
By Anthony Pignataro and R. Scott Moxley
Thursday, July 4, 2002 - 12:00 am


Photo by Daniel C. Tsang
Eight months ago, an offended Orange County District Attorney Anthony J. "Tony" Rackauckas strenuously denied the existence of a grand-jury investigation into corruption allegations at the DA’s office. A couple of months later, Rackauckas admitted the existence of the probe but claimed it was a "routine" administrative audit undeserving of public attention. Late last month, we learned not only that Orange County’s top law-enforcement officer is fond of employing misleading media spin, but also that he is, indeed, corrupt.

On June 26, the Orange County grand jury rocked the local legal establishment when it declared that Rackauckas routinely abuses his awesome prosecutorial powers to protect friends and punish perceived enemies. According to the grand jury’s fact-filled, 100-page report, "Office of the District Attorney: An in-depth investigation," the DA is Nixonian in the darkest sense of the word: paranoid, petty, partisan, secretive, retaliatory and arrogant. And though this was a civil proceding, it’s easy to conclude that the jury’s findings demand a criminal investigation.

To those who read the Weekly, that description is hardly news. We’ve chronicled Rackauckas’ numerous ethical lapses since he took office four years ago. What’s impressive is that the grand jury—historically a panel of 19, mostly lethargic citizens who avoid the county’s uglier controversies—had the courage to investigate the DA and then report its disturbing findings.

For that public service, the 2001-2002 jurors haven’t been applauded, but rather ridiculed. Rackauckas accused them of political bias. Editorial writers at The Orange County Register questioned the jurors’ integrity and proclaimed the panel was uninterested in discovering the truth. In Register reality, the truth is the DA "may have done some things wrong," but the public should be, as the Register is, "generally pleased with the job he is doing."

The spin didn’t end there. Both the Register and Rackauckas argued that the report would have been more favorable had the jurors received "the complete story." Neither mentioned that it was Rackauckas who hampered the grand jury’s duties. Consider this: when the grand jury subpoenaed Deputy District Attorney Kay Rackauckas, the DA’s wife and a key player in office mischief, Rackauckas claimed he couldn’t locate her. Sources tell the Weekly another key player the grand jury sought—deputy DA Susan Schroeder, the wife of Michael Schroeder, the Orange County Republican Party bigwig and key Rackauckas defender—did not testify.

To their credit, the jurors were not amused by the MIA deputy DAs. They noted, "The grand jury requested the assistance of the district attorney’s office to locate the two witnesses, both of whom are extremely close to the district attorney, and were informed by the district attorney’s office that they were unable to contact them."

Kay Rackauckas went to extraordinary lengths to avoid assisting the grand jury. She took months of personal leave from her six-figure job and then, after she failed to return to the office, was quietly fired on May 27 by Orange County CEO Michael Schumacher. There has been no official explanation.

According to the grand jury report, Kay Rackauckas’ absence was an illusion. While they were searching for her, she was using a taxpayer-paid cell phone to call in orders—at times highly questionable if not unethical—to more senior prosecutors, records show. Despite her relatively modest management experience, the jurors found that the DA’s wife "was left, in large part, to her own devices." One of those devices was to convert part of the DA’s public offices and resources into a de facto campaign headquarters for Stephanie George, a personal friend and fellow deputy DA who was a winning Superior Court judge candidate in 2000.

But the biggest question emerging from the grand jury report is a question neither the Register nor the Los Angeles Times has asked: Why was Kay Rackauckas—a public servant sworn to uphold justice—afraid to testify?

Telling the truth about Tony Rackauckas can come at a cost. Just ask Michael Jacobs. The tough, veteran prosecutor had endorsed Rackauckas’ DA run in 1998 and was rewarded with the top assignment in the homicide unit. Cordial relations didn’t last. Jacobs became frustrated with Rackauckas’ ethical lapses and lack of professionalism. Afraid the misconduct would continue unless confronted by outside authorities, Jacobs shared his concerns with state investigators in 2000. Then, according to the grand jury, someone in the DA’s office left the equivalent of a horse’s head in Jacobs’ bed one night. Several local news reporters anonymously received official DA office "confidential" files containing negative and highly personal information on the prosecutor. The message was clear: speak out and you’ll be publicly punished.

The threats didn’t work. Jacobs refused to back down and Rackauckas eventually fired Orange County’s most acclaimed homicide prosecutor. A wrongful-termination lawsuit is pending.

If challenging Rackauckas can be painful, becoming his pal is advantageous. The grand jury documented in impressive detail dozens of cases when the DA used his position to aid friends and contributors in law-enforcement matters. In two key cases, for example, jurors determined:

•Tony Rackauckas didn’t know millionaire Newport Beach businessman Patrick Di Carlo before 1998. That changed as soon as Rackauckas launched his candidacy. Di Carlo—who admits that organized crime cops have for years considered him a mob associate—invited Rackauckas to his Harbor Island estate for dinner and a sleepover; raised thousands of dollars in campaign contributions; and even paired the soon-to-be DA with his son as a potential business partner in a Las Vegas-based corporation. When Rackauckas won, Di Carlo hosted and paid for an elaborate private celebration. In 2000, Di Carlo asked the DA to block the organized-crime unit from investigating his business activities. Rackauckas complied. The officers cried foul; Rackauckas placed them on leave. Signaling his contempt for his officers, Rackauckas bought Di Carlo a $600 Glock handgun and helped secure him a concealed weapons permit. Remarkably, Di Carlo says he wanted the gun to protect himself from the DA’s agents. Rackauckas told the grand jury that he and his new friend "talk on the telephone several times a week and go to lunch together anywhere from once a week to once a month."

•Rackauckas had no experience handling consumer-fraud prosecutions, but that didn’t stop him from rescuing Newport Beach billionaire George Argyros in his struggle with the DA’s prosecutors. Without explanation, Rackauckas met privately with Argyros’ attorneys and then overruled his staff’s position that his political benefactor had personally directed the massive fraud scheme against approximately 11,000 local Vietnamese and Latino apartment tenants. The shakedown allegedly netted Argyros more than $33 million during a three-year period. The grand jury ruled that the DA had "not paid proper attention to a possible appearance of impropriety" in the matter and should not have been privately negotiating with his powerful friend.

•The DA created and refused to disclose information about a partially taxpayer-funded "charitable" foundation that glorified Rackauckas while giving official-looking law enforcement badges to Di Carlo and other businessmen who contributed money.

In any other major metropolitan area, a carefully researched and well-written 100-page rebuke of the DA’s ethics might spark a public backlash or prompt an apology or resignation. But this is Orange County and—though the last grand jury did its job—there is no guarantee that any other legal body will do theirs.

Initially embarrassed by the report, Rackauckas’ arrogance and claims of invincibility seem to grow each passing day. In a June 27 memo to staff, the DA was upbeat, confident and "proud of this administration’s accomplishments."

Meanwhile, there are sure to be dedicated, law-abiding local prosecutors who are biting their tongues and have yet to come forward in public about Rackauckas’ abuse of authority. We know because the grand jury also issued an ominous warning: "Of great concern to the grand jury were those deputy district attorneys and even members of the [DA’s] management team that expressed fear of retaliation should the confidentiality of their testimony be violated."

Alarms should go off when good prosecutors fear their own boss.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, Kay R. lied thru her teeth in that letter to the editor. That office has 26 dda's that handle child abuse cases. It has 1 dda that conducts interviews. see below:

Christine Smith, MSW, Program Manager
Child Abuse Services Team (CAST) Bld#140
1337 Braden Court, Orange, Ca 92863

There are 15 sexual assault DA's and 10 Physical abuse DA's. CAST has 1 DA assigned full time to observe every CAST Interview. CAST is primarily for sexual abuse cases; however, we have done interviews for severe physical abuse and witness to a crime.

Rose said...

Which begs the question - WHY?

Why would the Orange County DA's wife care about Paul Gallegos enough to not only wirte a letter to the editor but to cook the books as it were, to make up a whopper like that?

And the Gallegos team got away with this crap.