Orange County Jail Inmates Allowed to Enjoy Phone Sex, Deputy Testifies
Jail inmates--including killers, rapists, gangsters and pedophiles--regularly enjoy phone sex with civilians on public lines recorded by the Orange County Sheriff's Department (OCSD), and deputies allow the perk because "it's not illegal," according to court testimony this week.
Rosenblum: My client is getting railroaded in jail sex case
That unplanned revelation came courtesy of OCSD Investigator James Karr, who was questioned by defense attorney Lewis Rosenblum about use of jail phone recordings to arrest David Lloyd Cass in 2013 after the deputy allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for allowing a maximum-security inmate contact sex dates from 2009 to 2012.
To charge Cass with four felonies involving gift cards to places such as Burke Williams Day Spa, Karr and prosecutor Aleta Bryant are relying on portions of more than 1,000 hours of phone recordings between inmate Stephenson Choi Kim and girlfriend Ha Duc Nguyen, who used her vagina to smuggle marijuana to the vicious killer and took cell phone recordings of him masturbating to porn she brought into the jail.
But Rosenblum, who repeatedly earned accolades as California's top trial prosecutor before opening a private law practice in Santa Ana, is telling a jury of eight women and four men that Karr conducted a sloppy, biased investigation determined from the outset to pin flimsy charges on Cass while oddly ignoring Kim's bombshell, May 2011, recorded assertions about another deputy, Thomas Gallivan.
It took Rosenblum, a detail freak who served in the U.S. Marines, seven months to listen to all 1,069 hours of Kim recordings, and he used that knowledge to knock Karr--who'd listened "to about 50" hours--off-balance on the witness stand by confronting him with the inmate's disclosure about Gallivan: He'd allegedly supplied Kim chewing tobacco and told him he had a green light "to shank Mexicans."
"I didn't know that," replied Karr, who confessed he "vividly" recalled portions involving Kim's phone sex.
Rosenblum then showed the unnerved investigator internal OCSD records from his own Cass probe that proved Kim made an allegation against Gallivan.
Karr immediately altered his testimony to claim he had been aware of the information after all.
The defense attorney asked him to describe how he'd followed up on the shanking allegation.
"I did not do anything," the investigator replied.
"Are you clairvoyant?" Rosenblum asked. "What's more important: Taking a gift card to Burke Williams, or a deputy telling inmates to shank Mexicans?"
The defense point--Karr decided he would rely on the word of a notoriously unreliable Kim against Cass but not against Gallivan--seemed to have scored with jurors, many of whom scribbled notes during the tense exchange.
(Kim's record includes using a baseball bat to beat a victim, brutalizing someone with a bullwhip, chopping off a portion of another victim's ear and walking into a Cypress restaurant in 2004 to unloaded a handgun at a table of people he'd never met. The shooting left 22-year-old Venus Hyun dead and four others serious wounded.)
To bolster his accusation of Karr's sloppiness, Rosenblum also got the investigator to concede he'd done no research into Kim's criminal record, which included repeatedly lying to police and inventing false charges against an Orange County deputy district attorney.
"Were you aware of that?" the attorney asked.
"No," the investigator said.
"Does it trouble you that Kim lies?" Rosenblum asked.
"I knew there were some issues with Mr. Kim," replied Karr. "Depends on the situation."
"Depends on your feelings, right?"
"Are you surprised he's never told the truth in any case?"
"Do you think it's possible he lied to you [about Cass]?"
The investigator paused for about five seconds before replying, "It's possible."
By the time he finished, Rosenblum got Karr to acknowledge OC Jail inmates are using public phones not just for phone sex, but also to run prostitution and drug rings "right under the sheriff's nose."
The 20-year OCSD veteran blamed the department's lack of "manpower" to monitor the phones.
"Honestly, it's a reactive system," said Karr, noting the department stores recordings of calls and only reviews them in special cases.
But Bryant isn't without potent ammunition. Cass undoubtedly took gifts from Nguyen. He also engaged in suspicious email, phone and text-message contact with her. And there's proof the deputy became too close to the killer, a move Rosenblum calls "stupid" but "not criminal."
He told the Weekly after his June 12 testimony, "My client is getting railroaded."
Testimony resumes Monday and, depending on whether Cass takes the witness stand, could conclude by the end of next week.