July 9, 2014

Nagin to Prison for 10 Years — Corruption

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 9:18 am

NaginAccording to this New York Times article, former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been sentenced to ten years in federal prison.  Nagin was convicted on 20 federal corruption charges in February, mostly relating to kickbacks he solicited and received from contractors looking to get city work during his term as Mayor of New Orleans.

Why did Nagin go bad (assuming he wasn’t always a crook)?  Part of the answer may be revealed in this New Orleans Times-Picayune editorial:  Greed.

But greed is often just a convenient reason accompanying a more insidious trait common among corrupt public officials.  Often public officials become corrupt because they believe they are smarter than their victims (the public) and smarter than their adversaries in the criminal justice system.

Corrupt public officials also develop a sense of entitlement.   They begin to think that because they see themselves as altruistic public servants, they are entitled to take a little something for themselves.  After all, they are smarter than everyone else, so it’s only right that they should be compensated by their inferiors for their own superiority.

Greed, a sense of superiority, and a sense of entitlement.  Ray Nagin had all of those.  Now he will have ten years to think about better times.

April 16, 2014

Boss Hog to the Pen …

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 10:59 am

rizzoAccording to Angela Spaccia, Robert Rizzo’s cohort in the Bell corruption scandal, Rizzo had a saying:

“Pigs get Fat … Hogs get slaughtered!!! So long as we’re not Hogs … all is well!!”

Today, California Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy told Hog Rizzo that all was not well.  She sentenced him to serve 12 years in state prison for his part in the Bell corruption scandal.  He will be allowed to serve the state’s sentence concurrently with his 33-month federal sentence on tax-related charges.

The details of today’s sentencing are in LA Times reporter Jeff Gottlieb’s online story headlined Rizzo gets 12 years in prison, marking end to scandal that rocked Bell.

While Rizzo’s sentencing on federal and state charges and Angela Spaccia’s sentencing on state charges do appear to end the state action, there remains the possibility of federal charges against Angela Spaccia.  As OpenCdA has noted in several earlier posts, Angela (Sheffield) Spaccia served as Kootenai County, Idaho’s Finance Director prior to going to Bell.

April 15, 2014

Just Down the Street…

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: , — Bill @ 12:19 pm

CudahyJust down the street (that would be Atlantic Avenue) from scandal-ridden Bell, California, is the city of Cudahy (pronounced “cudda’-hee” or “cudda’-hay”).  In fact Bell is Cudahy’s next-door neighbor to the north.  It appears that Cudahy and Bell share more than just a border.

In an online story dated April 15, 2014, and headlined State accuses small city Cudahy of large spending irregularities,  Los Angeles Times reporters Jeff Gottlieb and Stevel Marble reveal that California State Controller John Chiang today released the state’s City of Cudahy – Review Report – Administrative and Internal Accounting Controls for the period July 1, 2010, through June 30, 2012.  (Note:  Times reporter Gottlieb updated this story and added details in a later one headlined Audit faults Cudahy as government in chaos.)

The essence of the state’s Review Report can be summed up in the first sentence of the Conclusions section:  “We found the City of Cudahy’s administrative and internal accounting control deficiencies to be serious and pervasive.  As a result, the potential for fraud, waste, and abuse is very high.” (more…)

April 11, 2014

Memorable Comments From the Judge and the Con Artist

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 8:12 am


Yesterday’s OpenCdA post titled Prison for Former Kootenai County Finance Director linked to the preliminary story from the LA Times reporting that former Kootenai County finance director Angela (Sheffield) Spaccia had been sentenced to 11 years, 8 months in California state prison for her role in the Bell, California, corruption scandal.

Today’s Los Angeles Times story headlined Former Bell second-in-command gets 11 years in prison for corruption elaborates on yesterday’s story.  In today’s story there are some telling comments from both Spaccia (Sheffield) and Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kathleen Kennedy.  Some of Spaccia (Sheffield)’s comments have been reported before by the Times, but of course Judge Kennedy could not comment until after the trial was over and the sentence had been imposed.

OpenCdA hopes readers will read today’s LA Times article and pay close attention to the comments from both Judge Kathleen Kennedy and the convicted con artist, Angela (Sheffield) Spaccia.  They reveal the mindset of not only the con artist Spaccia and her fellow con artist City Administrator Robert Rizzo, but also the Judge’s now much clearer understanding of the complicity of Bell’s then-mayor and all but one member of Bell’s city council.

Midway through today’s article, Times reporters

We can’t help but wonder if Spaccia (Sheffield)  at that moment might have  been wishing  she had stayed in Coeur d’Alene and Kootenai County, Idaho. (more…)

April 10, 2014

Prison for Former Kootenai County Finance Director

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 12:07 pm

SpacciaBookingPhotoFormer Kootenai County, Idaho, Finance Director Angela (Sheffield) Spaccia was sentenced today to 11 years, 8 months in prison according to the Los Angeles Times.

Spaccia, known as Angela Sheffield when she was Kootenai County’s Finance Director, was convicted on a variety of charges relating to public corruption in the Bell, California, corruption scandal.

Spaccia’s conviction was on state charges in Los Angeles County Superior Court.  Her conviction and sentencing does not preclude additional federal charges being brought against her.

Spaccia’s boss, former Bell administrator Robert Rizzo, is scheduled to be sentenced later this month.

Bell’s former mayor and five city council members have agreed to plead guilty to various charges involving misappropriation of public funds.   Each of them could receive up to four years in prison.

March 27, 2014

Charlotte, NC, Mayor Arrested – Corruption

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 2:58 am

CannonThe Charlotte Observer online reports that Charlotte, NC, Mayor Patrick Cannon (shown left) has resigned after being arrested on Wednesday by the FBI and charged with corruption.   Cannon was accused of taking over $40,000 in bribes from undercover agents posing as big developers who wanted to do business with the City.

The criminal complaint and affidavit in support of the complaint sworn by FBI Special Agent Eric J. Davis alleges that Cannon committed violations of the Hobbs Act (Extortion/Color of Official Right), Theft or Bribery Concerning Programs Receiving Federal Funds, and Honest Services Wire Fraud.

Here is the press release issued March 26, 2014, by Anne M. Tompkins, US Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.  The press release nicely summarizes the allegations against former mayor Cannon.

ADDENDUM on 03-28-2014 at 7:02 AM:  People sometimes ask why law enforcement doesn’t act more quickly on corruption cases against public officials.  In Cannon’s case, people asked why the FBI could not have arrested him before he was elected and sworn in as Charlotte’s mayor just a few months ago.  Here is a partial answer.

Calif. State Senator Arrested By FBI – Gunrunning, Honest Services Fraud

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 2:03 am

YeeBannerSizedIn its Wednesday online edition, the San Jose Mercury News article headlined State Sen. Leland Yee indicted on arms trafficking, corruption reports that California State Senate colleagues were shocked at the indictment of Sen. Leland Yin Yee, one of the state’s strongest advocates for both gun control and good government.  Yee was considered a strong contender to be California’s next Secretary of State.  Yee’s district includes San Francisco and part of San Mateo County.

In addition to Yee, the 26 people indicted included Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, the alleged leader of San Francisco’s Chee Kung Tong .  FBI Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pascua’s  136-page affidavit in support of the complaint identifies a wide range of charges including firearms trafficking, money laundering, murder-for-hire, drug distribution, trafficking in contraband cigarettes, and honest services fraud.  So far, however, the charges against Yee are for Wire Fraud of Honest Services, Conspiracy to Deal Firearms Without a License and Conspiracy to Illegally Import Firearms.  (Note:  The honest services fraud allegations against Yee are detailed in the affidavit and are an excellent tutorial in how campaign finance donations are used to bribe public officials.)

Here is a link to the March 26th  press release issued by the US Department of Justice‘s United States Attorney for the Northern District of California Melinda Haag, FBI Special Agent in Charge David J. Johnson, and Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, Special Agent in Charge José M. Martinez.

ADDENDUM on 03-28-2014 at 07:13  AM:  Some but not all racketeers and gangsters shun publicity.  Others like Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow seek to achieve an air of legitimacy by associating with prominent community leaders and appearing to “give back to their community.”  As reported in this San Jose Mercury news story, this SFGate story, and this Los Angeles Times story, Chow was in the latter category.

March 16, 2014

Holder’s Roadblock

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 9:29 am

road-closed CORRECTED[

In our January 17, 2014, OpenCdA post titled So Look Already! we expressed frustration and disappointment that Mary Rook, the Special Agent in Charge of the Salt Lake City Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, had not been investigating allegations of public corruption in Idaho.  The Salt Lake City Division is responsible for conducting FBI investigations in Idaho as well as Utah.

In the same post we observed that if Idaho’s US Attorney, Wendy Jo Olson, has sent an implicit or explicit message to the FBI that she is not interested in corruption cases, it’s a safe be that the Bureau would not spend much time and effort building cases likely to be declined by Olson’s office.

It appears we were at least half right.  (more…)

March 13, 2014

Bell About to Ring – Twice

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 7:14 am

bell-cityhallFormer Kootenai County, Idaho,  Finance Director Angela Spaccia is scheduled to be sentenced on March 21 in Los Angeles County Superior Court for her corruption-related convictions resulting from her term as the Bell, California, assistant city administrator.   The Spaccia (then Sheffield) connection to Kootenai County was outlined in several OpenCdA posts.

As often happens when criminal conspirators are to be sentenced separately, they turn on each other to try and get reduced sentences.  Spaccia’s boss in Bell, former city administrator Robert Rizzo, had already pleaded no contest to 69 felony corruption charges last year rather than stand trial.

Rizzo had been scheduled to be sentenced before Spaccia, however he is likely to be subpoenaed to testify at Spaccia’s sentencing hearing.  The Court postponed Rizzo’s sentencing until April 16.  Obviously Rizzo’s attorney hopes that his testimony against his former assistant Spaccia will lighten his sentence.  Spaccia’s attorney probably hopes to reduce her sentence by shifting some of the blame back to Rizzo.

It is reasonably certain that both Rizzo and Spaccia will wind up in state or federal prison.  It seems likely that Spaccia will face federal tax charges as well.

OpenCdA will continue to follow the trials and travails of former Kootenai County Finance Director Angela Spaccia.  Who knows?  At some point she might even start cooperating with the feds to get a reduced federal sentence.  If she does, we wonder what she might say about the time she was Kootenai County’s Finance Director.


February 12, 2014

Former New Orleans Mayor Nagin Convicted – Corruption (Updated)

Filed under: Probable Cause — Tags: — Bill @ 11:22 am

NewsBulletin copyNBC News, the New York Times, and the Times-Picayune are reporting that former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin has been convicted on 20 of 21 counts in a federal corruption prosecution.

The charges included allegations that Nagin accepted bribes from contractors in return for making sure they got city work.  (Thankfully, bribes and kickbacks never happen in Idaho.)

This will be updated with more information as available.

ADDENDUM on 02-12-2014 at 2:50 P.M.:  Here is the press release issued by the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Kenneth Polite, Jr.  It’s title is C. Ray Nagin, Former New Orleans Mayor, Convicted on Federal Bribery, Honest Services Wire Fraud, Money Laundering, Conspiracy, and Tax Charges.

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