During 23 months of the ongoing Orange County snitch scandal that today won a national call for a U.S. Department of Justice probe, we've learned how certain courthouse prosecution teams cheat, how law-enforcement officials concoct clever explanations about how they accidentally rigged cases against dozens of defendants, and how judges--the people obligated to ensure honestly won convictions--are tolerating, if not outright encouraging, a pro-government warping of the criminal-justice system.
Bob Aul/OC Weekly
Our reporting has focused on a myriad of state court abuses that have captured national attention. But there's also cause for concern inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana. One sensational, pending appellate case underscores how defendants can be robbed of key evidence while FBI agents, assistant United States attorneys and judges shrug their shoulders.
Vo Duong Tran of Louisiana and Yu Sung Park of Illinois are serving 30-year sentences for 2009 convictions stemming from a bizarre home-invasion robbery plot in Orange County. Bizarre not just because the conspiracy involved a machine gun, silencers, bulletproof vests, the threat of wiping out any early arriving cops, and the expected plundering of cash and cocaine from inside a Fountain Valley residence near Mile Square Park--but also because Tran and Park are former lawmen.